Swarm: Notes from Women's March Norway 2018

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
that opens,
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 -- 


Refugees Welcome Oslo Collection Drive

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 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


Trick or Treat! Notes from the First Annual DA Norway Halloween Party

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. 


Gun Control: Keeping Up the Good Fight


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.

Read more

A Vigil for Charlottesville in Norway

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.


Democrats Abroad Norway Summer Event Photos

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.


TV2 Coverage of US withdrawal from Paris Climate Agreement

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.

A First-Hand Account from the DNC in Philadelphia

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!


How to Register to Vote from Abroad

Two of our volunteers collaborated on this short video that takes you through the process of registering to vote from abroad and requesting your absentee ballot. Please share this video among fellow Americans living abroad!


Democrats Abroad Norway (DAN) is excited to welcome members and friends to our website. We'll be keeping this page up-to-date with news about events we're planning in the time ahead, as well as opportunities for our members to get involved. Please also be sure to check out other sections of the site.

Not yet a member? Register on this site today, and you'll hear from us soon. And please follow DAN on Facebook, where we post news about events we're planning, links to especially good articles on politics we've come across, resources for mobilizing against the Trump agenda, and so much more.