Building Community: Rewire Q3

Scott Swenson

Rewire readership is up 75 percent in Q3 2007, and a growing community, especially in a new media world, means challenges. With your ideas, contributions, and participation, Rewire will continue to succeed.

Rewire continues to learn, grow, and, most importantly, build community. Community building is often unwieldy and always a challenge.

When some people talk about the "sexual and reproductive health community," they are referring to a collective group of advocacy organizations, professional associations, and health providers. Others define community as the membership of those organizations, while some would focus on the professionals working within them. Some include anyone interested in sexual and reproductive health, but might focus on specialty issues to the exclusion of others. And all too often, we still learn lessons of exclusion based on class, access, race, orientation, and geography, even within progressive movements. No doubt about it, community is a challenge, especially online.

Rewire is building a community that challenges many of these notions because our community is premised on promoting access to information, encouraging dialog, and providing a platform where more people can find and contribute to a diversity of progressive ideas about sexual and reproductive health more quickly. Our goal is to counter the glut of misinformation promoted by others by putting a progressive frame on issues, ranging in viewpoint from expert opinion to personal anecdote.

The challenge is not to ideas, to individuals, or to anyone's definition of community. The challenge, and it is one that every issue area faces in this age of new media and new journalism, is how the diversity of ideas often debated privately can move into an age where our ideas flourish publicly, and we can be confident that even when progressives differ, we share information the public needs and can rely on. Each of us is strengthened by ideas of others.

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None of us has all the answers and too few have access to the nuance that impacts all of us. But together, progressive ideas brought to light will inform, educate, and win.

With generous support and a commitment to editorial independence from the United Nations Foundation, Rewire has built a platform for this online community to flourish, and, thanks to you, it is.

  • Readership is up 75 percent in the most recent quarter and 140 percent from the start of the year.
  • We are steadily climbing in the Technorati rankings, now in the 7000 range, up from a ranking of 20,000 at the start of the quarter. The rankings are based on links to and from the site in the past three months. The higher our ranking, the more highly ranked our content is on many search engines.
  • We continue to push content aggressively through additional information products, repackaging the content you see and promoting it to other websites and to journalists, opinion leaders and subscribers to our daily, weekly or monthly feeds.

In Q3 2007, Rewire:

  • Kicked off our Election 2008 coverage, featuring information about every candidate, updated with regular posts.
  • Introduced our weekly podcast, RealityCast with Amanda Marcotte, available every Monday. And Amanda's weekly column brings you her fresh, frank, and personal takes on what reproductive justice really means in our lives every Wednesday.
  • Began featuring more regular columnists, including Cristina Page from birthcontrolwatch.org, and Anika Rahman from Americans for UNFPA.
  • Partnered with Advocates for Youth, SIECUS, ISIS, and DoGooderTV to sponsor Fresh Focus: Sex Ed Digital Video Contest to learn what people 15-30 think about the future of Sex Ed. See Amie's post about this contest and the fantastic prizes, and encourage youth you know to enter!
  • Featured new content every day from our Leading Voices, our Global Perspectives writers, and other feminist journalists and commentators on our front page. We are deepening our connections to seasoned reporters who bring you the latest, most accurate news, with more analysis and information on reproductive rights than you'll see in the mainstream media.
  • Built our relationship with the progressive blogosphere, having a presence both on DailyKos and at the Yearly Kos Convention and welcoming progressive bloggers to our site. We believe more needs to be done to elevate sexual and reproductive health issues in the progressive blogosphere, and with your ideas on Rewire, we will.
  • Introduced Talk Back, featuring the most recent comments on the front page, and adding a "Most Popular Discussions" tab at the bottom of the front page. By clicking the Talk Back headline, you link to the 30 most recent comments on our site, making Rewire even more interactive. Use your real name to comment, or a screen name that allows you to speak more freely. Unlike many socially conservative web sites, we welcome all respectful voices on our site, and encourage the community to use comments to respond, debate, inform and educate. You may not win over an opposition commenter, but an open-minded reader who sees your civil arguments will benefit from your truth.
  • Changed Breaking News from using only the Kaiser feed, to bringing you the latest headlines from original sources via Google News, selected by Rewire editorial staff. Again, clicking on the orange Breaking News headline takes you to all the recent news. As with all our content, it is available in an RSS Feed, allowing you to manage all your content from your favorite sites.
  • Expanded your ability to contribute to the site via RH Wiki. Just like at Wikipedia, at Rewire you can submit content to several sections of the site, providing the latest studies from your organization, your favorite Reckless Rhetoric from the opposition, and more. The benefit, in addition to community participation, is that the information you provide will be linked to more sites, and will appear ranked higher in search engines as a result of the work Rewire is doing. If you are interested in volunteering to be a community Wiki Editor, we'd love to hear from you, but you don't have to be a Wiki Editor to share the good information you have access to with the larger community. More links to and from your site and Rewire lifts all sites, getting more eyes on your information.

Finally, in Q4 2007, watch for:

  • Reader Survey. As we grow this community, we want to hear from you. In late October we will conduct an online survey, and we hope you'll share with us what works best about Rewire and what more we could do for you.
  • Improving "Page Two" features. After our front page, every page you jump to is page two to us — so watch what happens in the right hand column over the next few weeks and months.
  • Off site organizing. Rewire is working with others to more effectively coordinate and elevate the promotion of sexual and reproductive health issues, as well as feminist ideas, throughout the blogosphere. Many progressives still want to downplay these issues … we won't let them! United we win!

Thanks again for reading, commenting and writing. We encourage you to submit not only comments, but your own writing. Rewire celebrates ideas, especially yours!

Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: ‘If You Don’t Vote … You Are Trifling’

Ally Boguhn

The chair of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) this week blasted those who sit out on Election Day, and mothers who lost children to gun violence were given a platform at the party's convention.

The chair of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) this week blasted those who sit out on Election Day, and mothers who lost children to gun violence were given a platform at the party’s convention.

DNC Chair Marcia Fudge: “If You Don’t Vote, You Are Ungrateful, You Are Lazy, and You Are Trifling”

The chair of the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), criticized those who choose to sit out the election while speaking on the final day of the convention.

“If you want a decent education for your children, you had better vote,” Fudge told the party’s women’s caucus, which had convened to discuss what is at stake for women and reproductive health and rights this election season.

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“If you want to make sure that hungry children are fed, you had better vote,” said Fudge. “If you want to be sure that all the women who survive solely on Social Security will not go into poverty immediately, you had better vote.”

“And if you don’t vote, let me tell you something, there is no excuse for you. If you don’t vote, you don’t count,” she said.

“So as I leave, I’m just going to say this to you. You tell them I said it, and I’m not hesitant about it. If you don’t vote, you are ungrateful, you are lazy, and you are trifling.”

The congresswoman’s website notes that she represents a state where some legislators have “attempted to suppress voting by certain populations” by pushing voting restrictions that “hit vulnerable communities the hardest.”

Ohio has recently made headlines for enacting changes that would make it harder to vote, including rolling back the state’s early voting period and purging its voter rolls of those who have not voted for six years.

Fudge, however, has worked to expand access to voting by co-sponsoring the federal Voting Rights Amendment Act, which would restore the protections of the Voting Rights Act that were stripped by the Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder.

“Mothers of the Movement” Take the National Spotlight

In July 2015, the Waller County Sheriff’s Office released a statement that 28-year-old Sandra Bland had been found dead in her jail cell that morning due to “what appears to be self-asphyxiation.” Though police attempted to paint the death a suicide, Bland’s family has denied that she would have ended her own life given that she had just secured a new job and had not displayed any suicidal tendencies.

Bland’s death sparked national outcry from activists who demanded an investigation, and inspired the hashtag #SayHerName to draw attention to the deaths of Black women who died at the hands of police.

Tuesday night at the DNC, Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, and a group of other Black women who have lost children to gun violence, in police custody, or at the hands of police—the “Mothers of the Movement”—told the country why the deaths of their children should matter to voters. They offered their support to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton during a speech at the convention.

“One year ago yesterday, I lived the worst nightmare anyone could imagine. I watched as my daughter was lowered into the ground in a coffin,” said Geneva Reed-Veal.

“Six other women have died in custody that same month: Kindra Chapman, Alexis McGovern, Sarah Lee Circle Bear, Raynette Turner, Ralkina Jones, and Joyce Curnell. So many of our children are gone, but they are not forgotten,” she continued. 

“You don’t stop being a mom when your child dies,” said Lucia McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis. “His life ended the day that he was shot and killed for playing loud music. But my job as his mother didn’t.” 

McBath said that though she had lost her son, she continued to work to protect his legacy. “We’re going to keep telling our children’s stories and we’re urging you to say their names,” she said. “And we’re also going to keep using our voices and our votes to support leaders, like Hillary Clinton, who will help us protect one another so that this club of heartbroken mothers stops growing.” 

Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, called herself “an unwilling participant in this movement,” noting that she “would not have signed up for this, [nor would] any other mother that’s standing here with me today.” 

“But I am here today for my son, Trayvon Martin, who is in heaven, and … his brother, Jahvaris Fulton, who is still here on Earth,” Fulton said. “I did not want this spotlight. But I will do everything I can to focus some of this light on the pain of a path out of the darkness.”

What Else We’re Reading

Renee Bracey Sherman explained in Glamour why Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine’s position on abortion scares her.

NARAL’s Ilyse Hogue told Cosmopolitan why she shared her abortion story on stage at the DNC.

Lilly Workneh, the Huffington Post’s Black Voices senior editor, explained how the DNC was “powered by a bevy of remarkable black women.”

Rebecca Traister wrote about how Clinton’s historic nomination puts the Democratic nominee “one step closer to making the impossible possible.”

Rewire attended a Democrats for Life of America event while in Philadelphia for the convention and fact-checked the group’s executive director.

A woman may have finally clinched the nomination for a major political party, but Judith Warner in Politico Magazine took on whether the “glass ceiling” has really been cracked for women in politics.

With Clinton’s nomination, “Dozens of other women across the country, in interviews at their offices or alongside their children, also said they felt on the cusp of a major, collective step forward,” reported Jodi Kantor for the New York Times.

According to Philly.com, Philadelphia’s Maternity Care Coalition staffed “eight curtained breast-feeding stalls on site [at the DNC], complete with comfy chairs, side tables, and electrical outlets.” Republicans reportedly offered similar accommodations at their convention the week before.

News Human Rights

After Suicide Attempt, Chelsea Manning Faces Indefinite Solitary Confinement

Michelle D. Anderson

“Now, while Chelsea is suffering the darkest depression she has experienced since her arrest, the government is taking actions to punish her for that pain. It is unconscionable and we hope that the investigation is immediately ended and that she is given the health care that she needs to recover,” said Chase Strangio, an ACLU staff attorney.

Transgender Army veteran and WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning is being threatened with indefinite solitary confinement in connection to her July 5 suicide attempt.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said U.S. Army officials notified Manning of an investigation into her suicide attempt. Three serious charges are being brought against her.

A transcribed charge sheet provided by the ACLU shows that Manning is under investigation for resisting force from the cell move team, possessing prohibited property, and engaging in “conduct which threatens.”

Manning, who was arrested in 2010 for releasing classified government documents to WikiLeaks, is serving a 35-year prison sentence at the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, an all-male maximum security prison.

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In 2014, Manning, with the help of the ACLU, the ACLU of the Nation’s Capital, the ACLU of Kansas, and civilian defense counsel David E. Coombs, sued then-Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and other Department of Defense and Department of the Army officials for failing to treat her gender dysphoria, a violation of her constitutional rights.

Army physicians had diagnosed Manning with the condition several years prior, according to the lawsuit.

As a remedy, the National Commission on Correctional Healthcare has recommended that inmates like Manning receive medical treatment that follows World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) standards of care, like providing hormone therapy. Several respected medical organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association, support WPATH recommendations.

Chase Strangio, a staff attorney with the ACLU, said in a statement that the investigation was “deeply troubling” and noted that government continues to deny Manning medical care related to her gender dysphoria condition and her recent suicide attempt.

“Now, while Chelsea is suffering the darkest depression she has experienced since her arrest, the government is taking actions to punish her for that pain. It is unconscionable and we hope that the investigation is immediately ended and that she is given the health care that she needs to recover,” Strangio said.

Along with indefinite solitary confinement, the ACLU said Manning could face reclassification into maximum-security prison, an additional nine years in medium custody for the remainder of her 35-year long sentence, if convicted of the “administrative offenses.”

The ACLU said the Army could also negate any chance for parole.

ACLU spokeswoman Allison Steinberg told Rewire the ramifications Manning faces derive from the Army’s Institutional Offense Policy.

Fight for the Future Campaign Director Evan Greer, whose group collected more than 100,000 signatures last year when the Army threatened Manning with solitary confinement for possessing LGBTQ literature and an expired tube of toothpaste, said in a statement that the U.S. government’s treatment of Chelsea was a “travesty.”

“Those in charge should know that the whole world is watching, and we won’t stand idly by while this administration continues to harass and abuse Chelsea Manning,” Greer said.

Just two days before Manning and her legal team learned of the investigation, she told followers on her verified Twitter account, “Feeling a little bit better every day. Thank you for your mail, your love, and your support. Things will get back to normal soon.”