People called me “crazy” when I first proposed to walk across New Hampshire in the blistering cold of winter over a year ago. Perhaps. However, I wasn’t alone. One year and over 300 miles later, the times I have spent on the NH Rebellion walk for democracy has been some of the most exciting times of my life.
On the morning of January 11, 35 citizen rebels joined me in Dixville Notch to start the 2015 NH Rebellion walk. Over the next 10 days, over 500 souls braved the icy winds of New Hampshire just to make this point: We want an end to corruption. We want a government that works for US.
Despite the ice and wind, we were greeted warmly everywhere we went. People are hungry for a solution. People know that the way our elections are funded ensures that only special interests are heard. Motorists honked and waved while driving by. Supporters came out of their homes in their pajamas to cheer us on. Neighbors invited us inside for hot chocolate or soup. With their encouragement, the miles melted away.
And on top of Granite Staters’ support, our walkers from all corners of the country (and beyond!) were so dedicated and inspiring. But more than anyone, we were moved by 15-year-old Ella McGrail who spoke at the Rally for Democracy in Concord. Please take a few minutes to watch her speech. She has wisdom beyond her years that inspired us all.
We have now migrated the photos we've compiled from the walk to our Flickr site to view or download.
To each of you who have supported us — whether by walking, volunteering, donating, spreading the word, giving us soup or a place to sleep, or sending us words of encouragement — thank you. This movement is about all of us doing this together.
P.S. 2015 is going to be a big year. Presidential candidates will be making announcements before we know it. Little do they know what we have in store for them. Send us your ideas as we go forward, and stay tuned.
About 2 hours after I posted my last report from the road, my wife called to tell me my five year old daughter, Tess, had a severe fever (>105ª). She (my wife, Bettina) had been up much of the night before (after I had left to drive back to NH) with Tess; they had spent the morning in the hospital because she had the same fever that morning. But the hospital had cleared her of the terrifying conditions, and sent them home.
The fear in Bettina’s voice that night urged me to come home, and I drove back, arriving around midnight. We battled the fever through the night, and I spent the next day with her to comfort her. She was stable and happy by the end of the day, so I drove back to NH.
Which means I missed Tamworth to Center Harbor. Ugh.When these walks began, I was certain I wouldn’t miss any of them. When I got that call, all certainties melted. Tess is fine.
Day 8 was to be Center Harbor to Laconia. The day began perfectly, with a clear and not too cold walk through Meredith, and then up the hill to RT 106 on the way to Laconia. But then 7 miles out, black ice brought the walk to a halt. After an hour or so waiting for the roads to be salted, our fearless leader, Xanni, ordered the walk stopped. The lecture I was to give that night in Laconia was cancelled. (As this was to be my only real lecture on the walk, I had given it many many hours of preparation. I’m sorry now for the time away from my fellow walkers that all that required.)
To cover the gap between where we stopped and where we were to start on Monday, a team of 5 started off early, racing to walk the 7 miles and catch up to the Day 9 walkers. I passed the team as I drove to the start of day 9.
We had a fantastically large group walking on the MLK day walk — a bunch from Cambridge, including Safra Center friends, and Ron and Cornelia Suskind, as well as Bettina with the (healthier) Tess. We ended in one of the most beautiful Shaker Villages I’ve seen, and wonderful return to simplicity after too many days of complexity.
In forty hours, on Wednesday the 21st, we will converge on the State House for the NH Rebellion's Rally for Democracy. We will hear from state and national reform leaders from across the political spectrum and deliver petitions to our elected leaders. In the evening, we will celebrate Granny D’s legacy at the “Walk the Talk” Gala at the Capitol Center for the Arts. All events are free and open to the public.
Now all we need is YOU! Please take a moment to RSVP and share this invitation with your family and friends in New Hampshire. Can’t attend but want to lend support? You can still submit videos of encouragement at our "cheer us on" page and read the growing list of state and national press on our media page.
Concord, here we come!
Portsmouth and Nashua's groups launched today, and we couldn't be happier to have them on the march. Unfortunately, we had to suspend the Dixville Notch route between Center Harbor and Laconia, and cancel tonight's event which was to be held at Lakes Region Community College.
While there is a certain amount of risk inherent to walking in these chilling temperatures, our Dixville organizers made a determination that the icy conditions were simply too poor to continue. The Dixville Notch walk will pick up (weather permitting) tomorrow from Laconia.
Of course, the Dixville Notch team kept themselves busy:
In the meantime, we're starting to get some great videos via the Questionr.org application. Really, this is a miracle of modern technology - you simply browse to questionr.org on your phone, make your recording, and it uploads automatically to the NHRebellion YouTube account. Not only are people using it now to document their experiences on the walk, but when the NH Primary does roll around, we can get political candidates on the record about what they plan to do to address corruption - and get it on film. Well, digital bits, really, but you get the idea.
This was a great one from Ellen McGrail, who wrote that great article in the Portsmouth Herald.
Remember, you can make videos too - just go to Questionr.org!
For six days now, the New Hampshire Rebellion Dixville Notch route has been traveling on icy roads and through the cold blowing wind, moving step by step towards Concord. And today, a new route began in Keene. Tomorrow, we welcome the final two walks, departing from Portsmouth and Nashua, towards Concord.
On January 21st, we will arrive together at the State House from all four corners of New Hampshire. That evening, we will celebrate Granny D, whose extraordinary walk across America at the age of 90 helped inspired this journey.
We are pleased to announce the launch of our NHR Questionr bird dogging application. We’ll be using this when the primary heats up, but a great way to get familiar and comfortable with it is to take videos of each other on the walk, telling your stories and asking questions. You can use Questionr by simply browsing to http://questionr.org on your smartphone. (Remember to hold your phone horizontally!) Videos you take with Questionr will automatically be uploaded to the NHR YouTube account.
Important key facts and updates:
Earlier today we surpassed 414 registered walkers. Doubling the number of registered walkers we had last year.
We now have more than 300 pictures uploaded to our photo album. Please continue to send in your photographs!
Please continue spreading the word on Twitter using our hashtag #NHR, Facebook and elsewhere. In addition, please continue to use the various print material from your walk organizers to help us continue spreading our message.
Tomorrow will be the first day we will have all four walks coming together towards Concord. This is amazing and we’re so happy you came with us on this journey. Onward!
Bad planning on our part — my middle kid’s birthday is in the middle of the NHR walk. So both years I’ve trundled down to Boston after the walk ends, and then race back the next morning. Therefore, no post from yesterday, and late post today, since not only was it an early morning (on the road at 3:30am) but I had to add 2.5 miles to todays 19 mile walk. No sleep, longest distance and something wrong with my achilles tendons — but NOTHING to diminish the incredible fun of today. The local paper covered us on the front page, which meant every 3d car honked with support. One guy ran out of his house — “THANK YOU FOR DOING THIS!” Almost as cool as the guy who bought everyone coffee.
Today I feel like Cenk did last year. This video is incredibly funny:
Naturally, the biggest thing we're preparing for is the launch of the Keene walk tomorrow, starting at 9:00 AM at Soldier's Monument in the Central Square of Keene, followed by launches of the Portsmouth and Nashua route the day after tomorrow. This will be the first time that the #NHR will have simultaneous walks. This presents logistical challenges but we have some good people on the road to keep things safe.
We noticed a lot of letters coming in from Maryland to the firstname.lastname@example.org e-mail - and saw that Congressman John Sarbanes (D-MD 3) wrote to his supporters and asked them to send us encouragement. It is an incredibly nice gesture and we thank him for it. (Hashtag #Sarbawesome.)
Sarbanes has pushed hard on the issue of reforming the system of corruption. Indeed, he introduced the Government by the People Act. But he doesn't just talk the talk - he literally walks the walk - the Congressman was one of our walkers in our January 2014 walk.
Just a reminder, if you haven't yet registered for the big event in Concord on January 21, you can still do so, and we're looking forward to seeing you there.
We climbed 10+ miles up the White Mountains, ending at Pinkham Notch. A stunning, clear day, that tested our equipment more than our strength. For much of the walk, I couldn’t wear glasses — defogger notwithstanding, ice coated the lenses.
The highlight was the surprise of Andrew Hemingway joining us. Andrew’s a libertarian-Republican. He ran for Governor in the Republican Primary. For a 30-something, he did quite well. And he has been a vocal advocate for reform.
More importantly, he has practiced a kind of cross-partisan reform. (See, e.g., “Can’t we all just get along and rebel?”) It is the real reason to have optimism here in New Hampshire that so many from both sides have been willing to embrace this issue, openly. Very un-DC.
The great Kai Newkirk of 99Rise joined us last night. We begin for Conway in a couple hours.
The -24°F (-31°C)doesn't tell the whole story; there is currently a national weather service alert for Carroll, Coos, and Grafton counties, where wind chill may mean as low as -40°F (-40°C) below.
One of the things we wanted to bring to your attention was the writing of Ella McGrail, a high school sophomore, who publishes a column called "Civic Teen" in the Seacoast Online (an arm of the Portsmouth Herald), and just wanted to point out that her eloquence at such a young age is a special talent.
More photos from our photostream below, check it out:
Fiercely cold, brilliantly sunny day three. Fifteen miles to the base of the White Mountains, 10 miles of which we climb on day four.
Pictured above is Dick Cates. Cates is my cousin. His uncle was one of the most important figures in my life (I write about him in my book, Code (PDF). My cousinran for representative this last cycle in Wisconsin. He entered the race the leader (a 20 year member of the school board, and local farmer, well liked); raised and spent about $100k over 13 months. But he became the target of a SuperPAC that supports school vouchers. $300k later, Cates lost by 64 votes.
The striking part of the story was messaging. The SuperPAC didn’t attack Cates on school vouchers — or anything related to the substantive position they cared about. The attacks were just to kill.
Walking 30 miles across NH in January has converted him to the cause. Wisconsin has a new money in politics leader.
Some other updates:
We've been getting some great imagery from the road, but this photo, from Gabriel Grant, one of the walkers, was just outstanding.
Gabriel was one of the walkers last year as well, and one of the brilliant minds who shows up at just about every Team Democracy Hackathon. He's also the guy carrying the phone that gives us the live-tracking data for the Dixville Notch route - so when you see that little blue dot moving - that's Gabe you're watching.
We've also been getting some great comments in via our Cheer Us On page, and we want to share some of those with you now:
What you're doing is great and the EXACT prescription our country needs in order to become a functional democracy once again!
Beverly and I are in Thailand but support you 100%
Thanks for walking! I appreciate your effort and your message.
THANK YOU SO MUCH
Just wish I could be there.
Keep up the good work
I live in Oakland CA and appreciate you efforts so much. Many of us are with you on spirit!!
I send heart fueled love and deep appreciation for your dedication to democracy and human evolution.
Here's wishing all the walking rebels in New Hampshire
the best of luck in your endeavour!!!
I live in Germany, but wish I could jump on board with
you in NH (despite the cold!!)!!.
Hats off to you all! Respect!!
Today was the longest day — 21 miles through the 13 Mile Woods on the way to Milan, NH. Not incredibly cold (once the walking got going), and not much snow (brief flurries). Endless and striking beauty.
Long walks beget long talks. There was a documentary film crew with us for the first few days. We devoted miles to the question whether this is a story that can be told in film. The simple story of course can — the story of criminals, the account of how little our democracy responds. But can a film show anything beyond the failures, with an understanding beyond simple corruption?
As we talked it through (me, skeptical; she, hopeful), it struck me the most important bit to notice about this movement is its echo with the progressive movement 125 years ago. Not just in substance (since there’s much that similar about the substance), but more importantly, in tactics. That movement was many different movements of many different kinds, that eventually found a way to push in a roughly similar direction (to improve democracy by ending corrupt democracy); it had no single leader; it had no central plan; indeed, for much of the movement, it didn’t even have radio.
So too for this movement, now. We’re in the post-broadcasting era, when none can count on a few platforms to make this central to everyone. And we’re in the essentially-partisan era, when it may be too much to ask anyone to associate openly with the other team. What works in times like this is many different parts with very different characters moving roughly in the same direction. At least if, eventually, they can capture the attention of distracted “leaders.”
The most hopeful bit of this part (NHRebellion.org) of this larger movement is its success in growing that diversity. Here’s an oped in the Nashua Telegraph co-authored by Andrew Hemingway (Libertarian/TeaParty candidate in the GOP primary for governor) and Dan Weeks (director of Granny D’s Open Democracy project).
The day ended with Aaron Swartz’s film, The Internet’s Own Boy. The best line is his father’s: The question now is what we do.
We continue the work, and make it work, in the thousand fields in which he walked.
Sub-zero temperatures greet us this morning, with a brisk and deadly wind.
Dixville Notch Route Day 2: Errol to Milan
21 miles, 18 walkers
Last year, day two - from Errol to Milan - was one of the most difficult days of the walk, covering a distance of 21 miles while still in the freezing North Country. This year was no different. Few updates from the walkers themselves today (because of a combination of being in a cellphone dead zone and the fact that it was just too cold to stop and take pictures.
Indeed, Nick Reid, a member of the Concord Monitor Staff who is making the trip with the walkers has entitled one of his blog posts: "It sure is cold out here." You can keep up with Nick at the Concord Monitor's "Money Trail" blog.
Speaking of the Monitor, the launch made the front page both of the Monitor's website and the print edition, as verified by the photo on the left one of our walkers, Andrew, took. You can keep up with the walkers' photos live via our Lensmob album at lensmob.com/a/nhr.
New Hampshire isn't the only place that people are getting excited - check out this video from Bruce Skarin (one of last year's walkers) as he walks in solidarity as a virtual walker this year in Massachusetts.