A year can feel both like a blip and an eternity, depending upon how one experiences that time and looks back at it in memory. This is certainly the case for participants and observers of the demonstrations that rocked the Wisconsin Capitol last year, the momentous opening to a historic political showdown across the Badger State that has yet to be decided.
Saturday, Feb. 11 marks the one-year anniversary of the opening to this conflict. That date was a Friday last year, when Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker formally announced his plans to strip collective bargaining rights from state employees. It was the first in an extended series of controversial policy objectives put forward by the governor and Republican legislature over the year, setting the stage for an unprecedented series of protests and parliamentary actions from all sides of the debate.
These protests came together swiftly, with organizing for a week of protests already in place that Friday night, with social media campaigns emerging simultaneously. This week of rallies turned into a 17-day occupation of the Wisconsin Capitol and extended series of demonstrations in and around the building that continue to this day.
Now protest participants are commemorating the one-year anniversary of the inception to Wisconsin's Walker era.
Presented under the banner of One Year Longer, One Year Stronger, this week events commemorating the "2011 Wisconsin Uprising" was organized by groups and activists directly involved in the protest movement last year. It includes an opening rally on Saturday, a reprise of the student-led Valentine's Day march to and card delivery at the Capitol, a two-day history-gathering campaign, and a variety of panel discussions, benefit shows, and demonstrations.
Calendars providing details for the anniversary rallies and discussions are provided by Defend Wisconsin and Wisconsin Wave, as well as on Facebook and The Daily Page Guide. These and several other events related to the Capitol protests and recall campaigns are previewed here.
Capitol Rotunda, 2 E. Main St., noon-1 p.m. weekdays
The Solidarity Sing-Along started at the Capitol on March 11, 2011, and is closing in on one whole year of political-themed chouses, serving as the most visible reminder that the Wisconsin protest movement is ongoing.
Inside at Night: Origins of an Uprising
Tamarack Studio & Gallery, 849 E. Washington Ave., Ste. 102, 1-6 p.m. Thursday-Friday and 12-3 p.m. Saturday
Nine photographers contributed their images to this gallery installation exploring last year's protests at and occupation of the Wisconsin Capitol, displayed amidst some of the iconic symbols of the movement, from heart balloons to Ian's Pizza boxes. Read our review of the show, which runs through April 28.
Thursday, February 9
UW Memorial Union, 800 Langdon St., 5 p.m.
John Nichols, associate editor at The Capital Times and correspondent for The Nation, was a regular speaker during rallies at the Capitol, and an active advocate for the protests on the television pundit circuit. Here he discusses his new book Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street.
The Wisconsin Uprising One Year On: What Happened and What Next?
Madison College-Downtown, 211 N. Carroll St., Rm. D240, 7-9 p.m., $5-20 sliding scale admission
The formal opener to the week of action, this panel discussion brings together labor activist Eric Cobb, The Progressive political editor (and Isthmus contributor) Ruth Conniff, Sam Jordan of the International Socialist Organization, Ben Manski of the Liberty Tree Foundation, and Tina Treviño-Murphy of the Student Labor Action Coalition at UW-Madison.
Saturday, February 11
Bury the Mining Bill Feeder March
Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, 501 E. Washington Ave., 10:30-11:30 a.m.
Protests commence on Saturday morning as activists opposed the Wisconsin mining bill (AB 426, passed by the Assembly) and the proposed taconite mine in the Penokee Hills gather at the WMC offices. Participants are encouraged to "bring signs and banners to protect our water" and urge the Senate not to take up the bill, and will subsequently march to the Capitol Square to join the primary rally.
Wisconsin Day Rally
Capitol Square at State Street, noon-2 p.m.
The steps leading from State Street to the Capitol are the site for the main event on Saturday, a "rally to kick-off a week of action" and mark the one-year anniversary of the Wisconsin movement. February 11, 2011 was the day Scott Walker formally announced plans for Act 10, a Friday that also opened a busy weekend of organizing by labor activists, students, teachers, and community members opposed to the governor's agenda. The rally is hosted by Wisconsin Wave, which is commemorating the date as a new holiday: Wisconsin Day. Speakers at the rally will address the next steps for the movement and the ongoing issue of voter suppression, and include Madison firefighter and labor leader Mahlon Mitchell, John Nichols, UW-TAA organizer Charity Schmidt, Ben Manski, and outgoing Dane County supervisor Barbara Vedder.
Sunday, February 12
Picket the Governor's Mansion!
Governor's Executive Residence, 99 Cambridge Rd., Maple Bluff, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
"Just like we did a year ago!" One of the first protests against Walker last year, before any gathering on the Square, was a Sunday picket of the Governor's Mansion. The anniversary week will feature this return engagement in Maple Bluff.
A Room of One's Own, 307 W. Johnson St., 2 p.m.
Fitchburg-based photographer and activist Dennis Weidemann will be stopping by a downtown bookstore to discuss Cut from Plain Cloth, a Kickstarter-funded book featuring photos of and stories about the Wisconsinites who came together for the Capitol demonstrations.
Forward! For the First Amendment
East Side Club, 3735 Monona Dr., 4:30-10 p.m., $10-25 sliding scale admission for adults
Speakers and music are on the slate for this benefit show to raise money to pay legal expenses for protesters arrested during civil disobedience actions at the Capitol and elsewhere, and to ensure open access for public assembly and media. Funds will go to support the work of attorneys from the ACLU and National Lawyers Guild, along with other local practitioners, who continue to defend First Amendment activities. Participating musicians include Professor Richard Davis, Charlie Brooks and friends, Ken Lonnquist, VO5, and Sergio. Speakers include Assembly Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison), The Progressive editor Matthew Rothschild, a member of the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians, and a 10-year-old who will read the Constitution, along with MC Jacob Mills.
Monday, February 13
One Year Long, One Million Strong
High Noon Saloon, 701A E. Washington Ave., 5-7 p.m.
The Democratic Party of Wisconsin is hosting this anniversary gathering, which will commemorate the successful campaign that filed more than one million signatures to recall Walker. Live music and food are on the menu, and donations are encouraged.
Tuesday, February 14
Interfaith Coalition for Worker's Justice Faith-Labor Breakfast
First United Methodist Church, 203 Wisconsin Ave., 8-9 a.m., $25, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
"Solidarity in the Heartland!" is the theme of this morning gathering, which starts with breakfast and continues with a march up Wisconsin Avenue to the Capitol. Two pastors from Ohio will be speaking: Pastor Troy Jackson, an evangelical minister in Cincinnati; and, Pastor Michael Harrison, a Baptist minister in Youngstown. Both served as leaders in the campaign in Ohio to overturn SB5, a bill that would have stripped public employees' collective bargaining rights, but was defeated in a repeal referendum.
Capitol Occupation Documentation Station
Wisconsin Capitol, 2 E. Main St., Rm. 415NW, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
One major element of the anniversary week is a campaign to collect and preserve the history of the protests and their impact on both state and national politics. As detailed by organizers: "Last year's protests have historical significance not only for Wisconsin but for the country as a whole, as in many ways what happened here was one of the inspirations for the nationwide occupy movement that began in September." Organizers with the "Information Station," an organizing clearinghouse during the occupation last year, will operate this "Documentation Station" to gather primary sources on and oral histories of the protests. Audio and video recorders will be available for anyone to share their memories, and protest participants are encouraged to donate photos (digital or printed), signs and posters, pins, and other physical ephemera for historical posterity.
I Still ? UW March and Rally
UW Memorial Union, 800 Langdon St., to Capitol Rotunda, 2 E. Main St., 12:15-2 p.m.
The Wisconsin protests began in earnest last year on February 14, when the UW-Madison Teaching Assistants' Association led a march from Library Mall up State Street to the Capitol, where they proceeded to deliver boxes upon boxes of Valentine's cards to the governor. (For more background, read a live-blog and view photos and video from the demonstration.) The TAA will celebrate the holiday in similar fashion this year, gathering in front of Memorial Union and marching once again up State. Once there, participants will join the Solidarity Sing-Along in the Rotunda, and deliver another set of Valentine's to Walker.
Show the Love, Save Our Schools!
Wisconsin Capitol at State Street, 4:15 p.m.
Madison Teachers Inc. was one primary organizers of the Capitol rallies, its members swelling the ranks of protesters around the Square each day with their placards reading "Care About Educators Like They Care for Your Child." The union is hosting this anniversary demonstration at the Capitol, which will feature a march, speeches, and evening edition of the Solidarity Sing-Along. Participants are encouraged to bring signs and wear red.
Wednesday, February 15
Capitol Occupation Documentation Station
Wisconsin Capitol, 2 E. Main St., Rm. 300NE, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Information gathering for the sake of history continues for a second day at the Capitol.
Thursday, February 16
One Year Later: Lessons from the Wisconsin Uprising
UW Memorial Union, 800 Langdon St., 7-9 p.m.
This anniversary panel discussion about the Wisconsin protest movement asks, "What have we learned?" Speakers include: Eric Cobb, a former executive director for the Building Trades Council of the SouthCentral Federation of Labor; Leland Pan, a member of the Student Labor Action Coalition and ASM at UW-Madison and a candidate for the Dane County Board; and Amanda Love and Teddy Shibabaw, members of panel sponsor Socialist Alternative.
Saturday, February 18
Wisconsin Progressive Grassroots Festival
Wisconsin Heights High School, 10173 Hwy. 14, Mazomanie, 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m., $14
This all-day political expo in Mazomanie is not directly an anniversary commemoration of the protests, but it addresses many of the same issues, including grassroots organizing, the mining bill, the role of the American Legislative Exchange Council in state legislatures, and most prominently, the campaign to recall Walker. See Facebook for more info.
Sunday, February 19
WisConvocation Public Planning Session
Tamarack Studio & Gallery, 849 E. Washington Ave., Ste. 102, 2-5 p.m.
The anniversary week concludes with this planning session for the WisConvocation, which is described by organizers as "an exercise in direct democracy, where participants will have the opportunity to deliberate on issues of public concern and formulate proposals for action." It will address long-term goals of the Wisconsin movement, recall elections and general electoral strategies, and grassroots organizing.
Together, these rallies and discussions marking the first anniversary of the Wisconsin Capitol protests both evoke the tumultuous year that was 2011, and suggest that 2012, given the recall campaign and presidential election, may prove just as memorable.