PPP in The Media


Latest articles and mentions In the Media

Fargo Forum Refuses to Print Same Sex Marriage Announcement

Here’s everything we could uncover about this local discussion. If the Forum won’t print it we will at PPP.  Others will too, just watch and SHARE! The site is also a blog site that takes comments.  Keep this visible on FB and the web:  http://thepeoplespressproject.org/?page_id=1336


An Un-Pleasant Experience

By Duke Gomez-Schempp
Dot Gov Contributor–Printed in the HPR 12-8-2011

12-8-2011–This week, the Cass County Board of Commissioners stifled the democratic rights of a group of people in rural North Dakota’s Pleasant Township. The group of 15 residents petitioned Cass County to de-annex their land from Cass County to Richland County. The group is unanimously dissatisfied with the Cass County leadership and asserts that their interests are not being heard concerning the flood diversion plan. The Cass County Commissioners swiftly squelched these residents’ opportunity to bring their issue to a public vote because they felt the residents represented a small group, when in reality, they represent a large amount of land mass in Cass County. The County stopped the petition request for de-annexation by relying on an obscure rule of government that allows the County Commission to be the gatekeepers on allowing this issue be on the ballot, so they denied the petition and prevented a public vote.

In viewing the past few months’ of governmental meetings filmed by The People’s Press Project, there have been several attempts by the public to exercise their constitutional right of addressing their grievances with the government. What is striking is how ineffective people are at exercising these rights. Not because the issues are frivolous, but how the elected governing bodies have structured themselves to be above the interests of the public. Most governmental entities work hard at discouraging people from approaching them. Many governing bodies dictate how, when and how long someone from the public may speak during their meetings. Agenda slots appear with time restrictions, instructions of what can and cannot be said and many times the people cannot speak to their government unless they were put on the agenda ahead of the meeting by processes unknown to the general public.

With this resistance to public accountability most constituents addressing their elected officials are not successful in being heard or seen in the process of Democracy. In Fargo-Moorhead, It is common place to see a group of concerned residents rarely able to affect the outcome of a policy discussed by their government. This is because the people in the community are not given an opportunity to have deep and constructive discussions on the issues that are important to them. The governmental bodies rely on Parliamentary procedures that keep them from fairly addressing the public while they are in the room. Most people get the impression that the issue had already been determined behind closed doors and out of the eye of public scrutiny. The city, county, state and federal government have done a good job in keeping people out of “their” business and out of sight. This erosion of accountability is very evident in local government proceedings. People addressing their government politely accept the prescribed rules of participation without question and many times become disgruntled which leads to them becoming apathetic and disillusioned in their political involvement.

Even though the residents of Pleasant Township had their petition denied by the Cass County Commission, they should keep up their fight for their desire to be represented fairly by the leaders who govern them. They need to be commended for participating in their governmental proceedings and keep pressuring elected officials to hear their grievance and take action in their favor.  In order to do that, they need to remain involved in holding their officials accountable to represent them. If that doesn’t happen, in 2012, Fifteen people may be working very hard to make sure they are represented by the two open County Commission seats in next year’s election.

For more information about the work of The People’s Press Project,
visit the PPP website at: http://www.ThePeoplesPressProject.org [http://tiny.cc/fmppp]

To view full-length meeting coverage of local governmental meetings go to: http://tiny.cc/local_government

Questions and comments: ppp@hpr1.com

Duke Gomez-Schempp appointed to National Foundation Grant Panel

Printed in the High Plains Reader By HPR Staff on 12-01-2011

Duke Gomez-Schempp has been selected from a national pool of applicants to serve a two year term on the New York based Funding Exchange. The Funding Exchange leads the nation in their innovative approach to philanthropy, Activist-Advised Grantmaking. This approach engages seasoned community activists in making experienced decisions in social justice philanthropy.

“We believe it is crucial to shift the power for grantmaking to the activists who spend their lives on the front line in their communities to effect systemic change. Grantmaking panelists have a broad range of experiences and reflect perspectives shaped by class, race, sexual orientation, and geography, which uniquely inform their decision-making. The panels also provide much-needed space for activists to develop strategic relationships and share best practices and ideas.”—Funding Exchange

Duke Gomez-Schempp is the lead Organizer for Fargo-Moorhead’s only Media Justice organization, The People’s Press Project. Duke Gomez-Schempp was selected to serve on the Funding Exchange activist-advised grantmaking panel, based on his expertise and work for over 20 years in social justice nonprofit organizations in the Fargo-Moorhead region and for serving 7 years on the Social Change Fund of the Minneapolis based Headwaters Foundation for Justice (HWFJ).  Duke Gomez-Schempp is currently on the board of HWFJ.

The Funding Exchange is a collection of regionally led social justice foundations.  Sixteen member funds and a national office make up the Funding Exchange Network.  Member Foundations are positioned throughout the US from major metropolitan cities to multi-state regions that span from Appalachia to Honolulu, California to New York. Funding Exchange foundations are unified in their commitment to supporting community-based progressive social change and to maintaining a democratic grantmaking process that shares decision-making power as well as monetary resources. The Funding Exchange has led philanthropy in social justice grantmaking for 32 years. This work is dedicated to building a solid base of financial support to progressive social change through fundraising for local, national, and international grant-making programs. The Network is continuing to build a permanent institutional and financial base to support progressive social change. Funding Exchange member foundations fund over $15 million annually.

For More information on The Funding Exchange, contact: Lucretia John
Program Officer – Membership and Grants
Funding Exchange—666 Broadway, Suite 500
New York, NY 10012
(212) 529-5300 x320

For more information on Duke-Gomez Schempp or to support local independet media, contact:
The People’s Press Project

Fuel Independent Media at: http://thepeoplespressproject.org/donate

Comments: ppp@hpr1.com

People Speak

(Published in HPR)

By Duke Gomez-Schempp
Lead Organizer, The People’ Press Project

The People’s Press Project has been filming Fargo Board of Education meetings for a year and making the meetings available to the public through the web and on Fargo Access TV-12.  During the past year of filming, we have noticed that it is infrequent that community members attend the meeting to address their concerns with the school board. There are several possible reasons for this lack of community input. The meetings are not public forum friendly long as they tend to run long and are run as business meetings. Another barrier is the way the school board interacts with the public. Although they do have an agenda item called “Recognition of the Audience”  the agenda instructs persons they are in a public meeting, not a public forum and are given a variety of restrictions on their speech, which can discourages input from the public. When the President calls on people who penned their name on a sign-up sheet there are further restrictions on how they can address the board. They are told that they cannot criticize or complain about any employee of the school district nor mention anyone by name. There is also a five minutes time limit enforced by the President. With the renewed discussion regarding racism and discrimination in Fargo, parents and children past and present victims may wish to come forward to speak at the School Board meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 25, but may run into problems expressing their concerns to the School Board.

The PPP fears, as history has shown so far, that few people will actually have the opportunity to have their complaints heard and addressed publicly – especially in the cases where: parents and children feel they would suffer retaliation, need anonymity, have been disillusioned with past inaction or injustice by school authorities in Fargo, etc. That’s why the PPP is beginning the People Speak Project Hotline: Justice Means Being Heard to address these barriers to democracy.

In an effort to cast the widest net, anyone who has a concern about racism and discrimination, past or present, can speak. The calls will be aired on that they want to voice can call this number and have their concerns made public and aired on PPP’s website at ThePeoplesPressproject.org.  peoplespressproject.org and listeners can leave comments and join the discussion. Unfortunately, our recording software only allows 3.5 minutes of recording time per person, but persons can also chose to write their stories for others to read on our website. PPP will update you on the progression of discussion and help elevate the voices of everyone who needs to be heard.

We encourage the public to call 701-205-4513 and speak freely about experiences of racism in the Fargo and metro school systems.  By leaving a message on this hotline there is an agreement that PPP will make it public. If the caller fears that there would be retaliation, we encourage them to be anonymous. We also ask that the callers stay on topic and do not use the hotline to illegally harass or threaten anyone. The voicemail system we are using limits messages to three minutes, so we ask that the caller be concise in their message.

Now is time to speak.  Call People Speak at 701-205-4513 and visit http://thepeoplespressproject.org/people-speak to hear what the community has to say.

Questions or comments: ppp@hpr1.com

Media Activism on the Northern Plains
Jon Pike blogs about PPP in Suite101.com

 Sep 24, 2011–The Fargo-Moorhead area in North Dakota and Minnesota is now home to a group of activists who are helping people to create their own media.

The Northern Plains of Fargo, North Dakota and Moorhead, Minnesota are now home to a group of media activists. The Fargo-Moorhead area is about 150,000 people large, so it’s not the smallest city in the world. People here have access to many media choices.

Also, people in this small metropolitan area are now awakening to the idea that in order to influence media, you need to proficient with media tools. This includes knowing how to craft media products that commercial media will notice.Read more at Suite101: Media Activism on the Northern Plains | Suite101.com http://jon-pike.suite101.com/media-activism-on-the-northern-plains-a390293#ixzz1Z1K7yXu6

Internship Experience
(Published in the High Plains Reader)

September 22, 2011
By Suzanne Redekopp
Summer 2011 Intern
Honestly, technology and I don’t get along. It has some mission, driven by a pure, inner hatred, to make my life miserable every time I try to use one of its new components or programs. So when Cindy informed me that, as part of my internship with the People’s Press Project branch, High Plains Reader, we would be using various forms of technology that I’d never heard of before, I thought I’d have to tell Cindy to find another summer intern. But under the supervision of Cindy and Duke, I learned that it’s necessary – and actually pretty easy—to integrate different technological facets into a community newspaper in order for it to be successful.—–(More)

The People’s Press Project is on the Move (Published in the High Plains Reader)

September 15, 2011 — By Duke Gomez-Schempp, PPP Organizer.
PPP has moved into the new digs of the High Plains Reader at their new building, the Brownstone. It has been over a year since PPP emerged as the nonprofit arm of HPR. The past year has been a great opportunity to work in tandem with HPR, which has always operated as a training ground for new journalists. HPR is now in its 17th year of publication and has a weekly local distribution of 30,000 papers and as many or more online readers as well. By partnering with the newspaper, the PPP is able to provide hands-on training in the production of a real community based media product.—(More)


PPP Intern shares Success with HPR Readership
By Jessica Ballou,  HPR Intern (Printed in the High Plains Reader).
Journalism has been my main passion and goal in life for as long as I can remember. The fast-paced world of witnessing and reporting the news was always fascinating to me. This fascination has only expanded, especially over the last six or seven years when I’ve been a student journalist. Different environments are capable of teaching you different aspects of a field that’s always changing but still staying the same when it comes to values and ethics. At a weekly student newspaper, one can learn how to converse with members in the community in order to produce a story of high quality on a short deadline. At a daily city newspaper, one can learn how to go out and find a story to tell under immediate deadlines. But at a weekly alternative community newspaper, one can learn a lot more than perhaps imagined.—(More)


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