Hello May – Giving Tuesday, Green New Deal, and Grassroots Power

From time to time, Cat Friday likes to check in and ensure that RAD chapter meetings are running smoothly. (Photo courtesy of Liz Filskov)

Thank you. We can’t tell you how grateful we are that so many of you stepped up with one-day, and sustaining, contributions to Rights & Democracy on Giving Tuesday.

If you’d still like to make a donation, we won’t tell! Feel free to make your contribution here.

Your support means that we will be able to continue providing support to people in our communities, while we also keep our eyes on making sure that any money coming into our state is distributed equitably. And, that any money is used to fund solutions that build a truly just and equitable society.

We know that we have a lot of work to do and that this crisis is far from over, especially for those who were already living in crisis before COVID.

We had a busy April with a powerful political roundtable about what’s needed to support ethnic and racially diverse candidates getting elected to office, and then a phenomenal turnout for a COVID Town Hall with Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, and President Pro Tem Tim Ashe taking questions from community advocates. You can watch both videos on our YouTube channel.

Read on for a short recap of what’s been happening at RAD this past month and what we have in store for May. Hint: It’s still a virtual world.

RAD Leaders
in Action

RDI Board member and RAD leader, Mary Gersich presented the US Human Rights Network’s briefing to the UN on COVID and Human Rights at the last Bennington chapter meeting. The campaign invites supporters to help raise awareness about the UN consideration of the US Human Rights deficiencies on Monday, May 11 by making signs and artwork. Watch a recording of the livestream and find out more about how to get involved.
Addison County RAD Leader, Barb Wilson examines the implications of skyrocketing healthcare premiums on school budgets in this compelling op-ed, which was published in both the Rutland Herald and the Addison Independent.

Staff Updates

This month, we said a teary goodbye  to RAD’s beloved Communications Director, Shay Totten. We are excited for him and the new adventures on his horizon, but we will miss the guidance and vision he brought to RAD. Staff commemorated his final week by pondering the question: if Shay was an animal, what would be be?

Shay, we have so much gratitude for everything you have done for RAD. We will miss you!

RAD in the Media

During our days of social distancing, it is especially heartening to see the work of RAD staff and leaders around the state raised up and recognized. Here are a few media selections from last month.

Addison County Mutual Aid and Jubilee McGill

Candidate Roundtable Discussion with Kiah Morris

Kiah Morris Joins RAD!

Listen to Kiah talk about her work in this interview

Burlington May Day Car Rally with Frontline Workers

In Case You
Missed It….

Our month in social media was a cornucopia of offerings – lots of RAD-ness tossed in with an assortment interesting and inspiring tidbits we picked up along the way. What did it reveal? Well…

…Earth Day was RAD,

…our pets are RAD (Thank you Hilary!),

…and obviously VT Organizing Director, Dan Fingas is always RAD.



To build grassroots power in our state, it is essential that we have voices from traditionally underrepresented communities in decision-making spaces. In April, VT Movement Politics Director Kiah Morris, hosted a candidate roundtable to discuss the issues that ethnic and racial minorities are confronted with when running for office in this turbulent era of hate crimes, and what we need to do to recruit, support, and elect candidates from these backgrounds. In this powerful conversation, elected leaders shared their personal experiences and a cybersecurity expert offered practical solutions and tips for anyone who is considering running for office. You can watch the discussion here.


After postponing our in-person gathering, originally scheduled for March, we are pleased to announce that on May 16th, RAD will kick off a series of visioning sessions with What Now to What’s Next: Visioning a Just & Equitable Future, a virtual training which will bring together key leaders from across Vermont and New Hampshire to develop a shared message and set of values for building thriving communities in a post-COVID future. This training is a crucial first step in a process of evolving an interconnected set of values-driven policies and community-led solutions. Regional and community-level sessions will follow, so be on the lookout for updates!


Earlier this month we hosted #NotMeUs: What’s Next for 2020 & Beyond, a special virtual forum with local, state, and national leaders to discuss how to keep the momentum going from Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign and continue growing the #NotMeUs movement. We had well over 200 participants on the call and panel guests included Congressman Ro Khanna (CA), politician and activist, Kaniela Ing, and Ana Maria Archisla of the Center for Popular Democracy as well as local and state representatives from Vermont and New Hampshire. The conversation worked its way through difficult questions and concerns, and outlined a roadmap for future action. You can watch a recording of this inspiring evening here.


For many Vermonters, the COVID crisis has only worsened an already difficult struggle. Our Virtual Town Hall brought together advocate leaders from communities hit hardest by the crisis to speak with some of Vermont’s top elected officials: Lt. Governor David Zuckerman, House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, and President Pro Tem Tim Ashe. During this riveting and potent discussion, which you can watch here, frontline advocates shared their stories and asked hard questions not only about how we will make it through these challenging times, but what needs to happen next.


As we continue our mutual aid efforts across both states, RAD is working with one eye on our post-COVID future and how we bring about the changes we need. Last week, organizer Tom Proctor hosted RAD New World, RAD-TV’s COVID-19 special that takes a look at how RAD is continuing to build a people-powered movement during this uniquely challenging time. The episode features interviews with RAD organizers across Vermont and New Hampshire as well as a chat with Vermont State Senator, Tim Ashe. You can watch it here.

Vermont organizers made over 400 calls and nearly 8000 Hustles this month as we work to mobilize and expand support for our statewide campaigns, Movement Politics work and COVID mutual aid coordination.

In addition to her continued work with Addison County Mutal Aid, Organizer Jubilee McGill has connected with the United Way to coordinate voluteer sewers to make masks for low income folks in the county. While the hectic day-to-day work of an organizer does not always make it easy to slow down for long conversations, Jubilee has also been making check-in calls to isolated people who really need to talk to someone, and has arranged for volunteers to do continued follow up.



May 1st is a day of celebration and solidarity with workers around the world. The origins of International Workers Day – May Day – are usually attributed to the Chicago Haymarket riot of 1886, when a peaceful labor demonstration turned into a violent confrontation with the police, resulting in several deaths and injury to hundreds.

Dubbed “A Day Without Immigrants,” May 1, 2006 saw one of the largest protests in May Day history. Over 1.5 million people across the US walked off the job and stayed home from work or school to participate in nationwide demonstrations for immigrants’ rights. Listen to historian Peter Linebaugh, fill in the gaps of the “The Incomplete, True, Authentic & Wonderful History of May Day.”

With frontline workers risking their lives on a daily basis during this unparalleled crisis, worker solidarity on this year’s May Day is particularly poignant. Car rallies were held across Vermont and New Hampshire in support of workers, including RAD co-sponsored events in Burlington and the Upper Valley.