A starling is a small songbird. She is mud-colored with a hint of purple or teal, but only if she twists to catch the light. When she’s working, feeding her babies or building her nest, she sometimes forgets to do that. Life isn’t usually about poetic twists. Most of the time, it’s about blending with the bushes and avoiding predators. The starling is often mistaken for a common blackbird. People don’t notice the smattering of light freckles across her chest and the back of her neck. Alone… one starling is unremarkable.
But sometimes, thousands of starlings suddenly take to the sky. Their miraculous dance—a black cloud of swells, shifts, swoops, soars—stops every witness in his tracks. Then it’s called a murmuration.
A lot has happened since the first Women’s March in 2017. That organic response to the election of Donald Trump inspired millions of women around the world to rise up against institutionalized sexism, misogyny, and prejudice of all kinds. It inspired men to understand the role they play in this fight for human equality. The movement was and is about voices: that single voice raised improbably against the machine; the strength of many voices rising together around the words #metoo.
Our chapter of Democrats Abroad was proud to support Women’s March Norway in their anniversary event this weekend. It was a bright, cold day. WMN Founder Brit-Agnes Sværi invoked Oprah’s recent battle cry—Time’s Up!—and was met with a thunder of mittened applause and boots stomping in the snowy square.
Last year’s march was the reason I decided to step up my involvement with Democrats Abroad. There was something uncanny about the way those marches happened all around the globe. In big cities and little towns. In wealthy nations and “shithole countries”. We gathered to meet the coming storm. I stood at Youngstorget beside my friend, Corinne, a fellow Californian-in-Norway. Her loud and proud sign read:
We’d come together with thousands of Norwegians and other internationals to object to Trump’s inauguration. Enough was enough. We decided that if there was anything at all we could do to fix the fault in our home country, we would do it. Serving our fellow Democrats Abroad in Norway as elected officers still seems like a good fit. Our whole board feels that way.
Lots of us made it out to the march this year. Thank you to everyone who helped us carry the DAN banner through the streets from Youngstorget to Stortinget. Thank you also to all who volunteered to help with security and social media and set-up and clean-up. We were well-represented among the reflective-vest crew, and that warmed my heart. It was also a treat to have so many Dems and friends join us at Brewdog in Grünerløkka afterwards for post-march beers and invigorating conversation. This little Drinking Liberally Oslo field trip was a big success, and we hope to see you all again at the monthly DL event on Tuesday the 30th of January.
It’s time to beat the drum and bring in votes for the 2018 midterm elections. Make sure you register to vote today! And if you know an American abroad who doesn’t think his or her voice matters in these dark days, please put them in touch with us. We aren’t just out to right the wrongs; we act locally to make the world a better place. Together, everything feels possible.
Once again, the Women’s March has caused me to meditate on a single word: swarm.
Republican politicians use “swarm” to denigrate immigrants, for example. For them, swarm implies a hoard, an unstoppable wave of vermin, disease, decay, termites hollowing out the foundations of their homes, “takers” and “leeches” and “welfare queens” and all the rest.
(As an immigrant myself, I would take offence at this idea… but I don’t have the time. I’m working too hard, paying taxes, and gratefully contributing to a society I admire. You know, the way immigrants do.)
So, let’s look at the word “swarm” again. As a murmuration.
Mary Oliver described it this way:
dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
becomes for a moment fragmented,
then closes again...
For some, it’s hard to quantify the achievements of the Women’s March. But the anniversary reminded us not to underestimate the mighty beauty of the swarm. Determining the definition of words like this one is up to us. Republicans may be the ones with the bully pulpit, but we’re the ones with the bullhorn. And we know that a swarm can also be a murmuration.
When a stippled star opens and closes like that, it contains enough power to blow a hole in the universe.
I’ll close with the words of another poet who made good use of the bullhorn at the rally in New York City this weekend. “Castle” singer Halsey (23) knocked the wind out of everyone listening:
What do you mean, this happened to me?
I'm supposed to be safe now. I earned it. It's 2018,
and I've realized that nobody is safe 'long as she is alive,
and every friend that I know has a story like mine,
and the world tells me we should take it as a compliment.
It's Olympians and a medical resident
and not one f*cking word from the man who is president.
It's about closed doors and secrets and legs and stilettos,
from the Hollywood Hills to the projects and ghettos…
Listen, and then yell at the top of your lungs.
Be a voice for all those who have prisoner tongues.
-- Halsey, Women’s March 2018 --
Tis the season for giving! Progressive Americans Action League--Oslo, Democrats Abroad Norway, and Women's March Norway are hosting a collection drive for Refugees Welcome Oslo (RWO). RWO is in need of gently used winter clothing, wool, winter boots, and outerwear for both adults and children. They are also in need of pants, sweaters, long sleeve shirts from size 8 years and up. Winter accessories and winter items for babies and strollers are also needed. *No summer clothes are needed at this time*
Starting on November 16th, you can drop off gently used items at Forandringshuset in Grønland each Thursday between 3pm-10pm. Have problems getting to Grønland but want to donate? Please send us message, and we will try to find an easier drop off location. Go to https://goo.gl/9wKhhr to send a message.
We will also be taking donations at these local events.
-- American Women’s Club of Oslo’s Thanksgiving Dinner on November 14th
-- Democrats Abroad Norway’s Drinking Liberally event on November 28th
-- Progressive Americans Action League--Oslo's Thanksgiving dinner on November 30th
For more information go to our Facebook event at https://goo.gl/9wKhhr.
A zany and delightful cast of characters gathered at Siste Sang Bryggeri in Grønland on Saturday night. DJ Rude Lead spun classic American funk, peppered with a few Halloween classics. And everyone--from the Statue of Liberty to Hermione Granger to a bunch of grapes--came to party.
Thanks to these fun-loving folks, DA Norway's first annual Halloween Costume Party Fundraiser was a big success! We drank good beer, ate delicious food, loaded up on American candy, and grooved to the funky music until the clock struck midnight.
With just a little coaxing (and a little more alcohol), our guests hit the catwalk for the costume contest. Bunnies and Mad Hatters and scarlet-caped Handmaids strutted to resounding applause. The Swedish Chef polska-ed this was to the Grand Prize, dinner for two from our friends at Oslo's Nighthawk Diner.
The event raised more than 8,000 NOK. The money will kickstart DA Norway's upcoming expansion project. In anticipation of the midterm elections, we will run a major membership drive throughout Norway in 2018. We're here to provide Americans abroad a Democratic voice in our government and elect Democratic candidates by mobilizing the overseas vote. Thank you to everyone who purchased a ticket for contributing to this important effort!
We also couldn't have done it without some key players. Mike Rawson and the guys and gals at Siste Sang were fabulous hosts. Special thanks to Barbara Ødegaard for being generous with her time, network, and brownies. Other dedicated DAN members donated food and decorations, and some arrived early to help us set up for the shenanigans.
Finally, all the DAN Board Members dedicated themselves to this project over the last few weeks. What a whirlwind! Costumes and candy are pretty excellent diversions on these dark days with the news coming out of Washington. We hope you'll all join us next year when we throw another Halloween bash.
3 opportunities to vote are coming right up!
DEADLINES for ballot requests are THIS WEEK.
Find out how to get your ballot here https://goo.gl/oXpxy2.
Specific races are—
• New Jersey Let's elect Democrat Phil Murphy as Governor and a Democratic State Legislature.
• Virginia Elect Democrat Ralph Northam as Governor and flip the Virginia House of Delegates to the Democrats.
• Utah U.S. House, 3rd Congressional District.
Hello Dems & Friends. Last night, I taped a very short segment for Urix on NRK. (The last six minutes or so of the program.) The idea was to debate gun control with Austin Rasmussen of Republicans Abroad Norway. There wasn't time for a real debate, but we each made a couple of quick points. I hope I did DAN proud. Unfortunately, this is likely not the last time we'll be called upon for our perspective on this issue.
Tonight, DAN folks and friends took some time to show solidarity with the good people of Charlottesville, with Heather Heyer and her surviving family and friends, with the victims of racial violence everywhere. It was a vigil. Just a small thing. Some candles, some signs, some openness.
One of the hardest parts about living abroad is the helplessness that sets in when something bad happens back home. In this case, Nazis and white supremacists descended on the city of Charlottesville, Virginia, and when counter-protesters showed up to confront the hate, sparks flew. And it appears that one Nazi-sympathizer drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters and killed a young woman.
These are old evils. Not merely the Nazis with their pathetic flags and chants, nor the skinheads and Klan members with their torches and hoods. These men are vessels of something far older than the American Civil War. The evil is the selfish belief that any difference in skin color or religion or language or birth place or gender or sexuality would make men enemies, would make one human superior to another.
What can we do?
I believe that there are many things we can do, but one of the most important is to show up. Even a world away, it helps.
We gathered at one of the least famous monuments in Oslo’s most famous sculpture park, because it’s always a good idea to hang out with our favorite liberal, old Honest Abe. We talked about freedom and how we can stand up for our fellow man. We comforted one another and looked down the road together.
As Lincoln said, "To give freedom to the slave is to assure freedom for the free, honorable alike in what we give and what we preserve."
Thank you to everyone who came. Thank you, also, to the Virginians and those with a connection to the state for being willing to share better stories of a place that doesn't deserve to be branded by this tragic event. And finally, thank you to the parents who came and brought their little ones. There are few things more beautiful than seeing people model this dedication to peace, love, and civic engagement for their children. It gives me hope.
We hope to see you at another event soon. Our monthly pub night series with Drinking Liberally is held on the Last Tuesday of each month at Siste Sang brewery. You can find the next event on Facebook here. And we’ve got a few things coming up this fall, both educational and social. Like our Facebook page for all updates.
Top photo, Democrats Abroad Norway Vice Chair Jonathan Roth, Chair Audrey Camp, Legal Counsel Danielle DeRose and Christina Skovsgaard at the ACCN sponsored Independence Day - 4th of July celebration and picnic in Oslo. Bottom photo, DAN at Oslo Pride Parade.
Democrats Abroad Norway Chair Audrey Camp sat down with TV2 to discuss the reaction of Americans abroad President Trump's decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Accord. She was joined by Austin Rasmussen of Republicans Overseas.
Democrats Abroad Norway Bylaws
Approved by Membership
Article One: General
Democrats Abroad Norway (DAN) is a recognized country committee of the Democratic Party Committee Abroad.
The primary responsibilities of DAN shall be:
• To encourage and aid Americans living in Norway to participate in elections of the United States of America
• To further the aims of the Democratic Party of the United States of America
• To serve as the Democratic organization for United States citizens resident in Norway
• To transmit views of Democrats Abroad and the Democratic National Committee to American Democrats in Norway, and vice versa, both on party affairs and policy
• Especially in campaign years, to handle publicity and advertising, acquisition and distribution of campaign literature and materials, coordination of visits, and related matters
• To nominate delegates to Democrats Abroad regional caucuses
Article Two: Membership
Membership is open to all United States citizens of voting age having their principal residence in Norway, and who wish to adhere to the principles of the Democratic Party of the United States.
Membership is obtained by contacting a member of the executive committee in writing and asking to be added to the DAN membership list.
A member may resign by written notice to the Chair, and such resignation is effective immediately.
A member, who shall cease to have his or her permanent residence in Norway, shall be deemed to have resigned effective upon his or her change of residence.
A member who by her or his actions demonstrates that she or he no longer subscribes to the principles of the Democratic Party of the United States and of Democrats Abroad may be excluded from membership by a majority vote of the DAN officers; provided however that such vote may only be taken after the member has been reasonable notice of the Executive Committee’s intention to exclude the member and has had reasonable opportunity to contest the proposed action by the Executive Committee.
By January 31st of each year the Chair of DAN will forward a membership list to the International Chair of the Democratic Party Committee Abroad (“DPCA”) containing the names and such other information as the DPCA Executive Committee shall require for certification of the number of members, and such list must be countersigned by the Secretary of DAN.
By becoming a member of Democrats Abroad Norway, each member of the organization consents to the delivery his/her name and other information contained on the membership list of the organization to the DPCA and to such lawful use thereof as the DPCA shall make from time to time. Membership in Democrats Abroad Norway automatically results in membership in Democrats Abroad.
Each member has the right to inspect and correct the member’s data in the membership records. Membership records shall otherwise not be open to inspection except by the Executive Committee and persons authorized by it, notably the database manager. The membership records shall be maintained by the Secretary in such a manner in order to protect the information therein, pursuant to applicable data protection rules. No use of the membership database is permitted for purposes other than those related to the activities of the Democratic Party, of Democrats Abroad or of Democrats Abroad Norway. No candidate for any office may use or access the membership database directly for the purposes of campaigning for office or soliciting votes or proxies.
Article Three: Meetings
DAN will hold at least one annual meeting, held in the fourth quarter of each year. Additional meetings can be called by Officers or by written request by a sufficient numbers of DAN members.
3.1 Calling of Meetings
Meetings of DAN may be called by the Chair or by the written request of at least one-fourth of its members.
A meeting shall be called in the fourth quarter in each year to review and approve accounts, take any such other action as may be appropriate, and, in the odd numbered years, to elect officers.
If for whatever reason the Chair or Vice-Chair fails to call a meeting when required to do so, the Secretary shall call such meeting within 30 days of the date required.
3.2 Date and Place
The place and time of the DAN meeting shall be determined by the Officer calling said meeting.
3.3 Notice and Agenda
Notice of each meeting, setting forth the place and time of the meeting and the tentative agenda, shall be sent or given by the Chair to each member of DAN not less than 45 days before the date of the meeting.
Any member may request the Chair in writing, not less than 30 days before the meeting, to place additional items on the agenda, and shall furnish the text of any resolutions proposed for adoption.
The Chair shall circulate such additional items and proposed resolutions, as well as other resolutions, not less than 15 days before the meeting. Items may be added to the agenda at the meeting by majority vote of the members present or represented.
Procedural questions shall be settled in accordance with the current edition of Roberts Rules of Order.
A quorum for a meeting shall require the presence of the Chair or Vice-Chair of DAN, as well as ten additional members or ten percent of the verified DAN membership, whichever number is higher.
The Chair shall encourage members of DAN who are unable to attend in person at meetings to participate remotely, whenever technically and economically feasible.
The Chair will, when possible, inform members of DAN of the telephone number or contact details to call and seek to arrange means of communication by which all persons participating in the meeting are able to hear one another at the same time.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, neither the Chair nor DAN shall be obligated to pay for the telecommunications charges in participation by a member; all such line charges shall be for the account of the member choosing to participate remotely.
Such participation by telephone or via other communication devices shall constitute presence in person at a meeting for all purposes of these bylaws.
Any eligible voter may cast a vote by written proxy (including electronic, fax, e-mail, electronic ballot or personal transmission thereof), cable or letter on any specified item on the agenda of the meeting.
A proxy may be revoked in writing via any of the aforementioned communication mechanisms at any time prior to the call to order of a meeting.
If during the course of a meeting of DAN, a person duly recorded as present must leave the meeting, temporarily or permanently, such person may give another DAN member a proxy for the meeting, valid for the duration of the absence or for the duration of the concerned meeting
No person may hold more than two proxies.
Article Four: Officers
The elected officers of DAN shall be the Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, Treasurer and Counsel. The Chair and Vice-Chair shall be of opposite sex, and an effort shall be made at all times to promote diversity among the elected officials.
The officers shall be elected at the annual meeting of DAN held in odd-numbered years, to serve for a term of two years or until their successors are elected.
Nominations for office may be made from the floor at the election meeting. Election shall be by majority of votes from attending members.
No officer may serve in the same office for more than two consecutive terms. In the event that there is no candidate for a DAN office, an officer who has served two consecutive terms in that office may be elected to an additional term of that office by a two-thirds majority vote of attending members.
4.1.1 Elections Committee
The Executive Committee, or an Elections Committee that has been expressly created for the purpose of carrying out the elections and has been approved by the Executive Committee, shall decide whether the elections shall be conducted (i) by mail ballot (to be counted at the annual meeting), (ii) by vote (in person or by proxy) held at the annual meeting or (iii) another method specified by the Chair.
4.1.3 Timing of Nominations
The Elections Committee shall notify the membership of its nominations, together with any self-nominations that have been received, no less than 30 days prior to the annual meeting.
4.1.3 Additional Candidates
If the elections are to be conducted by mail, any member of the organization wishing to run for office and not nominated by the Elections Committee may declare his or her candidacy at least 14 days before the annual meeting by a letter addressed to the Chair of the Elections Committee. The Elections Committee shall send ballots by mail to the membership of the organization no earlier than 13 days before the annual meeting and no later than 10 days before such meeting.
4.1.4 Nominations From the Floor
If the elections are to be held by mail ballot, no nominations may be made from the floor except when there is no declared candidate for an office to be filled. If the elections are to be conducted by vote (in person or by proxy), nominations for all positions to be filled may be made from the floor (whether in Oslo or at another participating Chapter Committee) of the annual meeting.
All campaigning shall cease 24 hours before the election.
4.1.6 Election Time Frame
An election will have a start time and a completion time as determined by the Executive Committee. The time frame must be ample for the membership of DAN to place their votes. Votes will not be accepted outside of this time frame.
4.1.7 Ballot Policy
All ballots shall be signed by the voting member. If voting via electronic means, the voter must print, sign, scan and return the signed/scanned ballot as an email attachment. Each vote must be traceable and identifiable as having been made by an identified member. Ballots will be held for 30 days after the election for verification purposes and thereafter destroyed. Verification of ballots may only be performed by an independent, non-candidate individual appointed by the Executive Committee.
In the event of a vacancy, or the resignation or removal of an officer, the Chair shall proceed immediately with the appointment of a replacement, subject to confirmation at the next meeting of DAN, where nominations shall be taken from the floor. The replacement shall serve out the balance of the term.
4.3 Responsibilities of the Chair
The Chair shall be the chief executive officer of the organization, shall call and preside over all meetings of members and of the Executive Committee, and shall have responsibility for all activities approved by the organization. The Chair shall sit ex-officio on all committees of the organization, with full voting privileges. The Chair shall preside at all meetings, establishing their agenda and implementing their decisions. The Chair may appoint and remove deputies, assistant officers, honorary Officers, committee leaders, having such duties as he/she shall designate, subject to ratification by the members of the Executive Committee at the next meeting of the Executive Committee.
4.4 Responsibilities of the Vice-Chair
In the absence of the Chair, the Vice-Chair shall call and preside at meetings of members and of the Executive Committee. The Vice-Chair shall have such other duties as the Chair shall define.
4.5 Responsibilities of the Secretary
The Secretary shall maintain a current list of members of the organization (containing the name, mail and e-mail addresses, telephone and fax numbers and U.S. voting district/state and such other information as the DPCA may from time to time require), minutes of all meetings, and all files and administrative records of the organization. The minutes shall be open for inspection by members.
4.6 Responsibilities of the Treasurer
The Treasurer shall manage the finances of the organization, keep records of all receipts and disbursements, deposit and disburse DAN funds, make an annual financial report to DAN, and ensure that any necessary reports to the DNC, the governmental authorities of the United States of America, or the Norwegian tax authorities, are filed as may be required by law (including without limitation the laws and regulations of the United States and the several States applicable to political parties and contributions to them).
All such records shall be open for inspection by members. The Treasurer shall consult with the International Treasurer of Democrats Abroad from time to time on matters concerning the maintenance of financial records and financial reporting (notably to the United States Federal Election Commission).
4.7. Responsibilities of the Counsel
The Counsel shall be available for consultation by the Executive Committee or its officers on legal and procedural questions relating to DAN and its activities.
4.8 Other Officers
The Chair may appoint and remove such assistant officers or honorary officers, having such duties as he or she shall designate, subject to ratification by the members of the Executive Committee at the next meeting of the Executive Committee.
Article Five: Committees
5.1 Executive Committee
The Executive Committee shall be composed of the Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, Treasurer and Counsel elected from among the eligible members of the organization.
The Chairs of the Chapter Committees and Standing Committees shall be ex-officio members of the Executive Committee with full voting privileges. The Executive Committee shall meet at regular intervals upon call by the Chair, for the purpose of consulting with and advising the Chair in the administration of the organization. A meeting of the Executive Committee may be called by one-third of the Executive Committee.
The Chair may create one or more ad hoc committees, with such functions and responsibilities as he/she shall designate.
5.2 Removal from Committees
The Chair shall appoint or remove the chairs of the Standing Committees and the ad hoc committees (if any), subject to ratification by the members of the Executive Committee at the meeting of the Executive Committee next following such appointments or revocation. The membership of each such committee shall be selected by the committee chair after consultation with the Chair.
5.3 Other committees
Standing Committees and Ad Hoc Committees may be created by the Chair, or by majority vote of the Executive Committee, with such functions and responsibilities as may be deemed appropriate.
5.4 Chapter Committees
Chapters of the organization that principally meet outside of Oslo, or have some other organizational focus, may be organized under the leadership of a Committee established for that specific purpose. Chapter Committee Chairs shall be ex-officio members of the Executive Committee.
5.5 Committee Chairs and Membership
The Chair shall appoint and remove the chairs of the Standing Committees and the Ad Hoc Committees, subject to ratification by the members of the Executive Committee at the meeting of the Executive Committee next following such appointments or revocation. The membership of each such committee shall be selected by the Committee Chair after consultation with the Chair. An effort shall be made at all times to promote diversity among Committee Membership.
Article Six: Conflicts and Amendments
In the event of a conflict between (A) these Bylaws and (B) the Bylaws of Democrats Abroad and the Charter and Bylaws of the Democratic Party of the United States and such rules and regulations as Democrats Abroad and/or the Democratic Party of the United States may from time to time adopt, the rules referred to in (B) shall prevail.
6.2 Amending Bylaws
These Bylaws may be amended by the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members of DAN, present in person or represented at a regularly constituted meeting of DAN.
The text of any proposed amendment shall be circulated with the notice
of any meeting where said amendment shall be discussed or voted.
DAN treasurer Barbara Odegaard volunteered at her third Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last month. Here is her account of what volunteering at a Convention entails:
It was such an honor to have been selected by the Philadelphia Host Committee to participate as a volunteer for the 2016 Democratic National Convention (DNC). I was part of an army of 10,000 volunteers needed to prepare the city and the convention hall to handle the influx of visitors and convention participants.
“What support do volunteers provide?” you might ask? Volunteers are the host city’s ambassadors, charged with showcasing the best of the city and helping to ensure a successful Convention. Volunteers are critical in providing a positive experience for guests and local residents. Below, Barbara and another volunteer pose for a photo with Acting DNC chair Donna Brazile.
Volunteer categories include the following:
- Volunteer Leaders or team captains who manage groups of volunteers
- Administrative and Office support volunteers
- Hospitality and Hotel volunteers
- Operations, Logistics and Delivery Support volunteers
- Press and Communications volunteers
- Social Media volunteers
- Technology and IT volunteers
This is the third convention I have participated in and it has been a phenomenal experience, each different from the last. This year I was assigned to the Technology and IT team and I got to work on the convention floor to help install and wire 50 mikes and podiums, one for each state delegation. A representative from each state announced their vote from the podium that I wired. I was a bit intimidated at first because this was the first time that I have worked on the technology team. Imagine my fear that the representative from my home state of Virginia would step up to the mike and not be heard loud and clear. That was definitely not going to happen on my watch and once I got the hang of it I learned a lot and had a blast!
As this was my third consecutive Convention many of us volunteers have kept in touch since 2008. It’s been fun meeting people from all over the world who are enthusiastic, and vocal participants in the political process. Each convention has been enlightening. My favorite was 2008 because I got to see the political process in action and of course this was the year that Senator Barack Obama was selected as the Democratic Party nominee, a history-making event.
At each Convention, during the first gathering of all volunteers they always ask where each volunteer is from and for the last three conventions Norway has been the furthest a volunteer has traveled from. At the Denver convention, a NPR radio host mentioned that there was a female volunteer coming from Norway but she couldn’t remember my name but it sounded something like “Oh Dear God”. So that became my nickname at the 2008 convention. Convention volunteering is hard work and long hours but it has been a ton of fun. I hope that my experience has piqued your interest and that you will consider volunteer opportunities in 2020!