What Exactly Is 'Grassroots,' Anyway?

There seems to be some confusion. Let me clarify. For starters, grassroots parallels greatness.

There seems to be some confusion. Let me clarify.

For starters, grassroots parallels greatness.

No big news flash, I was one of the organizers of the Jan. 21 Celebrate Walker Rally at Hart Park. Strictly a grassroots effort, and one of historic proportions – possibly the largest of its kind in the state, bringing 4,000 Walker supporters together in the the same place.

What force of nature could rev up a rally of this magnitude to inspire this many people to stand outside in the middle of winter for three hours?

The answer is: grassroots. Sure, there have been larger rally turnouts, but not at a grassroots level. So this raises the question, what is grassroots anyway?

The term, when I first heard it, reminded me of some sort of hippie revolution. I pictured tree huggers minus the bras, all singing to the rhythm of their sway. In my minds eye, I imagined them holding signs that said things like, "Grassroots For World Peace."

Admittedly, a make-love-not-war type of occurrence I want no affiliation with. But shortly thereafter, I heard the term a second time from a conservative comrade (I know how you liberals love when I use that term to refer to my friends). He told me of an upcoming "grassroots" event to be held at the Capitol in support of Gov. Scott Walker. My immediate thought was shock, assuming he referred to a large group of converted flower people who now stand behind our fearless leader. I asked him to please let me in on the term "grassroots event."

According to Wikipedia:

"A grassroots movement (often referenced in the context of a political movement) is one driven by the politics of a community. The term implies that the creation of the movement and the group supporting it are natural and spontaneous, highlighting the differences between this and a movement that is orchestrated by traditional power structures.

"Grassroots movements are often at the local level, as many volunteers in the community give their time to support the local party, which can lead to helping the national party. For instance, a grassroots movement can lead to significant voter registration for a political party, which in turn helps the state and national parties."

So when was this movement born? The entry goes on:

“The earliest origins of the use of 'grass roots' as a political metaphor are obscure. In the United States, an early use of the phrase 'grassroots and boots' was thought to have been coined by Senator Albert Jeremiah Beveridge of Indiana, who said of the Progressive Party in 1912, 'This party has come from the grass roots. It has grown from the soil of people's hard necessities.'"

I thought about the theory of growing from the "Soil of people's hard necessities." It's not like our courageous politicians are inept. But they are only human, after all. And the great conservative activism organizations can only do so much with the gridlocks of a 501 structure.

Don't get me wrong, they move metaphorical mountains, but they too, need some extra hands. Plus, as a citizen's group we are not bound by the red tape of a fundamental non-profit structures. But this begs the question, what about profit? It's no secret that to host a rally of 4,000 people had its overhead. And certainly something had to be in place to make fundraising legal. So who paid whom? That's a good place to start.

The baseline overhead was in excess of several thousand dollars. We needed to raise money. There were insurance, permits and park rentals that needed to be covered ahead of time. And then the cost of food for the speakers, tents, porta-potties, a PA system, signs and a special security staff to keep the prowlers at bay.

We needed a formal political action committee to be formed. And so, Onward Wisconsin PAC was born, with a suiting name. And the funds came in generously to cover the lion's share of our needs. The rest was loaned by several organizers in the position to so.

The day of the rally, a team of dedicated comrades did one heck of a bake sale to cover the remaining cost. Yes, that's right, we paid for a major event with an old-fashioned bake sale. Nothing like conservative women and their baked goods to get the job done.

When we first launched the idea, we had a vision of an intimate gathering of 100 people or so. We would need no security or insurance, or things of that nature. There was no overhead in the infantile stages. But, obviously, this notion passed with yesterday's news. The next thing we knew, every conservative on Facebook, invited every conservative they knew. And they invited some, and the invitees did the same, and so on. Not long after, we were nearing 1,000 confirmed attendees. It was growing from the soil of people's hard necessity.

At that point we had to line up an impressive speaker schedule. I’m proud to take credit for Jerrid Madden, the 16-year-old new generation conservative, who left his mark on the entire crowd, liberal protesters included. To see Jerrid's inspiring speech, go to the event page here, http://www.walkerstandswithus.com/video.html.

But what about booking some big-name featured speakers? Two of our core coordinators would own this task single-handed. I was worried with the adverse political climate, and I wondered who would brave the cold to stand outside to speak without getting paid – and for a grassroots group affiliated with no one of official standing.

I was worried if it would be viewed as a potential PR nightmare by the politicians under such public scrutiny at this time. I mean, what if it's disastrous – and just before the open season of recall elections?

Today, I sit here recalling how all of them gambled – and won. As did we as the event organizers. We invited 17 speakers thinking maybe three would brave it. Hindsight proves we were way off. Of the 17 speakers invited, 17 accepted – including former Gov. Tommy Thompson, First Lady Tonette Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch. But the star-studded cast of the day goes on and on. Did I mention it was cold outside?

In the days following the rally, I was chocked up every time I got an e-mail about Jerrid, or when I heard him mentioned on the news, or in the papers, and even brought up by a caller on the Vicki Mckenna show. And it's grown from there. I am humbled to have become a face of the movement, if you will, with regular media appearances, like this one, http://fox6now.com/2012/02/03/gov-scott-walker-to-meet-with-milwaukee-co-d-a/, and this one (another grassroots movement with legs), http://fox6now.com/2012/02/05/facebook-group-wants-to-write-in-walkers-name-on-dem-ballot/. Either way, grassroots turns out to be a very unstoppable force in itself. Never underestimate what grows in the soil of need.

In closure, I summarize the grassroots movement with the following statements from several comrades and rally organizers...

"Grassroots means you're able to inspire and impress someone who may be thousands of miles of away (Wyoming)."

"Grassroots is selling bakery to pay for your porta-potties."

"When people get together as a grassroots team, we are family. Everyone working to achieve one main goal. It is not about race, sex, religion, but based on the political beliefs."

"Grassroots is forming lasting friendships with people who you may never have had an opportunity to know otherwise - it's about coming together with a common goal and finding out just how much good and decency is in each and every one of you."

"Grassroots is bringing together a ragtag group of Facebook friends for the common purpose of creating the best event ever, and becoming lifelong friends in the process."

"Bakery that was made from scratch by people who asked for nothing in return."

"Grassroots is a stay at home mom (Meg Duffy) calling State Senators and asking them to hang out in a park in the middle of January- and not stopping until they said yes."

And in a private message, "All gave some, Noelle, Paris and Meg gave all."

How truly humbling. I think I speak for all of my grassroots allies when I say that we hosted the rally without one self-centered motive. This wa about a need. From the soil of our own treasured community the grassroots grow. And grow, and grow. We are silent no more, and I got news for you – I'm proud to say there's not a weed among us (except for Lisa Weed, that is).

So if you were one of the 4,000 patriots that attended the Celebrate Walker Rally – I extend my heartfelt gratitude to you – and your 3,999 comrades. Stay tuned, the grass is lush and lucrative.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Noelle Lorraine February 16, 2012 at 02:30 AM
Mau, it seems Bren has a little obsession going on with you and I. Wow.
Noelle Lorraine February 16, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Wow. Aside from conservative values, we share the love of Labyrinth. I had to chuckle because I heard "dance, magic, dance! Jump, magic, jump!" as soon as I heard the title of that movie. Being a child of the eighties myself, and the oldest of five, and built in babysitter, that was played more than a few times in our house. If I am in a melancholy mood, I like 'Hope Floats like most women. I also replay 'Practical Magic' and 'Some Like it Hot'. Some other favorites are, 'Interview With a Vampire' and more recently, 'New Years Eve'.
Noelle Lorraine February 16, 2012 at 02:40 AM
Hoffa, please! After all of the valuable contributions you bring to the table on every patch blog, I deputize you to shameless plug on mine until your hearts content! Besides, sometimes the diversion is appreciated greatly. So by all means, hijack all you like!
mau February 16, 2012 at 03:09 AM
@Noelle, mau is knowingly nodding and smiling :)
mau February 16, 2012 at 03:14 AM
@JRH, I was surprised the were so many goof ups in Simone. In the beginning Pacino's character said he knew nothing about computers. Then when he got the program he was an expert on the computer. Did you notice him putting the hard drive, that held the program, into the cd/dvd drive? Then I think the disk he used to spread the virus was one of those old 5" floppy disks. And at the end the daughter just had to push one button to restore Simon who had been wiped out with a virus. Wish our computer worked so easy :)
Nancy Hall February 16, 2012 at 03:27 AM
To whom does this refer and did they provide loans or donations: "The rest was loaned by several organizers in the position to so."
Bren February 16, 2012 at 03:36 AM
Noelle, you have simultaneously missed and proven my point. It's up to Patch, the company that sells advertising on its web pages, to decide whether or not advertisers will appreciate being associated with your blog articles and comments.
Noelle Lorraine February 16, 2012 at 03:38 AM
Well, you could always try to recall me. Lmao
Say What? February 16, 2012 at 04:11 AM
Noelle, Who do you represent when you blog for patch and follow with an undiplomatic "LMAO". You keep doubling down on poor discourse. What people are asking of you is simple. If you wish to "present" some form of "news or information", do it with civil discourse, research, honesty, and integrity. I get that you are just a citizen, but following up a rather simple request from a "news" source with dimwitted attacks on people is really dissolving any credibility that you may have as a source of information. Fortunately for you, it only enhances your credibility with those that share your opinion and "facts".
Craig February 16, 2012 at 04:21 AM
CAT FIGHT! CAT FIGHT! Odds are 3-1 in favor of Sarah Palin. ROFLMAO Randy: Place your bets now...
Randy1949 February 16, 2012 at 04:31 AM
I'm not a wagering person. But in a battle of wits, Noelle may have brought a whiffle bat to a gunfight.
Noelle Lorraine February 16, 2012 at 04:33 AM
Furthermore Bren, I do believe advertisers pay prices based on traffic on website in question. Did you want to count my clicks like you counted my comments? Come on, we can do it together... 1...2...3... Craig, you crack me up. Your comments are witty, and usually make me laugh, or smirk at the very least. And the Sarah Palin nickname? Is it the guns? Either way, she's beautiful, smart, a great voice for the tea party, and one hell of a shot, so obviously, this is quite the compliment to me!
Noelle Lorraine February 16, 2012 at 04:34 AM
Oh randy, I assure you, I am always armed with all I need.
mau February 16, 2012 at 04:41 AM
I'm betting on Noelle. She seems to have the knack to agitate :) Plus she has everybody coming back for more.
Say What? February 16, 2012 at 04:42 AM
Oh, how I worship Palin's intelligence. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCcpJpJkmeQ&feature=fvst
mau February 16, 2012 at 04:46 AM
Let's see, which super intelligent president said he is going to campaign in 57 states. And needs teleprompters to talk to a classroom of children.
Noelle Lorraine February 16, 2012 at 04:47 AM
Thanks Mau! I mean this as the most sincere of compliments- you too! I'll be happy as long as you keep coming back as my fearless, conservative female comrade!
James R Hoffa February 16, 2012 at 04:51 AM
@Noelle - Bowie is definitely an icon - hypnotic in everything he does. He just has one of those entrancingly mysterious personalities that come along only once in a blue moon. I really wish that he had done more lead acting, as his film appearances are so rare, but always welcome. Here's a confession I don't make everyday - I wanted to dress/appear similar to how Bowie's Jareth does in the masquerade ball scene for my wedding. Needless to say, my ex-fiancée didn't care much for the idea, but since we ended up not getting married, I don't think she has anything to complain about :-) When I first saw your pictures here on Patch, you actually reminded me of Jennifer Connelly. Other favorites: Blood and Roses (1960), Casual Sex (1988), Cloak and Dagger (1984), Creator (1985), Dreamchild (1985), Legend of Sirius, The (aka: The Sea Prince and the Fire Child) (1981), Summer Story, A (1987), Three O'Clock High (1987), Among Giants (1998), Crying Game, The (1992), Lolita (1997), Mystery Date (1991), Waterland (1992), Adventureland (2009), Crying Out Love in the Center of the World (2004), Hot Rod (2007), Party Monster (2003), Secretary (2002), The Man From Elysian Fields (2001) … the list is endless!
mau February 16, 2012 at 04:52 AM
@Noelle, I'll be here as long as they continue to beat up on you. I am sure JRH will be at your side too.
James R Hoffa February 16, 2012 at 04:55 AM
@mau - I tend to overlook things like that, as to really enjoy a film you have to approach it with a certain suspension of disbelief - especially with some of the films that I tend to most enjoy :-)
Craig February 16, 2012 at 05:02 AM
SayWhat: To be honest, I was underwhelmed at first when she was on the ticket for VP. But I watched her show and learned she wasn't your typical image of political people. Not only is she a darn good shot with large game. I saw her wield a chainsaw with a 42" bar, fish in conditions that make roughnecks stay home, and do manual labor that the average 40 something american male would be afraid of. I think if I were in a bar fight, I would want her on my side. That being said, I am happy Sarah (and Noelle) are GOP. Based on the 3 years of Obama, I think either one would have served us all better. ...
mau February 16, 2012 at 05:02 AM
@JRH, it was hard to overlook because I am such a huge fan of Pacino and it was so below his quality of work. I've always been a huge fan of David Bowie quirky music like Space Oddity. One of my favorite movies The Crying Game music by Boy George.
Craig February 16, 2012 at 05:07 AM
@Randy: I whiffle bat isn't even needed in this case. ;)
James R Hoffa February 16, 2012 at 05:26 AM
@Bren - I find it curious how Jason Patzfahl, the "liberal living in suburbia," can regularly raise unverifiable and sometimes questionable 'facts' as well as oftentimes framing his blogs with a subtle incendiary message towards the opposite end of the political spectrum, and you're constantly one of the first ones applauding his efforts. Meanwhile, you rip on Noelle for framing her blog entries in a similar fashion, which is more likely than not because you happen to personally disagree with the message she conveys. As far as how Noelle conducts herself in the commentary section, I don't honestly see why you're so concerned about it. If you're trying to moderate the board for conduct, then you've been highly unsuccessful in controlling commentators from both sides, and completely silent on those espousing the leftist side of the argument in an all but civil manner. If you really want to see how to moderate a board, you should check out the last Walker radio address transcript where we successfully got to over 230 comments with only a couple 'flamers,' thanks in large part to my efforts (admittedly, I was just fooling around to see if I could have an impact). http://mountpleasant.patch.com/articles/governor-scott-walker-says-wisconsin-is-turning-around Just trying to help you out :-)
James R Hoffa February 16, 2012 at 07:40 AM
My money is on Noelle with the whiffle bat, as her opponents, liberals, probably wouldn't know how to turn the safeties off on their guns :-)
James R Hoffa February 16, 2012 at 07:42 AM
BTW - I personally thought that Palin was the best thing that McCain's campaign offered!
Satori February 16, 2012 at 04:01 PM
"Did you get picked on in high school?" ...seriously, who says that? Usually not adults.
Randy1949 February 16, 2012 at 04:40 PM
@Satori -- Usually the kind of people who did the picking and still consider high school the glory days. It's often followed by the ever-popular, "I bet you're posting from your parents' basement." Politics is for adults. Even when teenagers are participating, it's for teenagers who think like adults and behave accordingly. When I'm confronted with middle-school behavior, it leads me to think that the issues have been examined with and equal lack of depth.
Lyle Ruble February 16, 2012 at 04:59 PM
@Randy....I have a suggestion for you and others who are frequenting Noelle's temper tantrums, leave it be. Her style only operates when she is able to suck people in to opposing her diatribes. If she refuses to engage in an adult manner, then refuse to cooperate by avoiding her rants. Eventually, the opposition will decline to nothing and she will only be preaching to the choir. That will sustain her ego for awhile, but in the long run it will not be sufficient to feed the seething beast within. I encourage you, Bren, Keith, Satori and others to not waste your intellect. Remember from the King James version of the New Testament: Matthew 7:6 "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you."
jmcginnis16 April 05, 2012 at 08:38 PM
You do realize that Wikipedia is completely user submitted? How is that a reliable source? Anyone can edit it...


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »