Participants at last week's Stand Up For Ohio festival share their thoughts : Hutchinson Persons of the OSU Chapter of the International Socialist Organization said, “Working people should not be afraid to work together and call it what it is : a class war.” Hutchinson Persons, International Socialist Organization, Ohio State University People on the left often complain about fragmentation. Regarding that Hutchinson said, "there’s a lack of theoretical background for a lot of organizations where they focus on one issue, but they don’t see the entire picture.”

Persons said the International Socialist Organization helps people to have a broader picture.

“ We work in solidarity with every issue, but we realize that without the entire picture, we’re not going to get real change. If we can work for more theoretical backing w/ other organizations and work together that way, there would be a more efficient left coalition.”

The OSU chapter of the International Socialist Organization is comprised mostly of students and faculty, but is open to the public. It works w/ Jobs With Justice and labor unions here in Central Ohio, as well as immigrant rights groups and queer advocacy groups such as Equality Ohio.

To those democrats and progressives wary of being associated w/ avowed socialists, Persons said, “Socialists have been on the ground from the beginning. In every grassroots movement, you’ll find socialists. You can’t avoid us. We’re going to be there to struggle w/ people.”


Former US Representative Mary Jo Kilroy said, “We have to offer ideas to people that matter to them and their lives. The biggest thing we need to be talking about is how to improve the economy and bring jobs to our cities and to our towns and rural communities, jobs that allow people to have a middle class standard of living.”

Kilroy said she doesn’t want to talk w/ people about Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann. “I want to talk to people about where they’re at, what matters in their lives, not the lunacy that some of these right-wing, divisive figures peddle in this country.”

Kilroy acknowledged the risk of that sort of lunacy taking over our country if voters become desperate amid hard times and if a grass-roots movement isn't strong enough to stop it. But she does not focus on those right-wing personalities when she engages w/ communities.

“ I don’t want to ignore them(people such as Bachmann), I just don’t want to talk to people about them all the time. I want to talk to people about what matters to them, so they see there are other people, other ideas out there that are going to address their real needs so those other crazy things don’t have currency w/ them.”

Kilroy said if people are not side-tracked by hot-button issues such as evolution or global warming, they can take a stand for fairness for the vast majority of Americans. “They don’t have to settle for politicians that are only concerned w/ 1 percent of the country.”

The pavilion at the Ohio State Fair Grounds where groups had booths and tables resembled a small political bazaar. But Pat Marida of the Ohio Chapter of the Sierra Club said there is a common theme.


“It’s the takeover of America by large monetary interests, corporate interests. We think it’s the takeover also by a few greedy political interests that are working in concert w/ multinational corporations. They want to pollute. They don’t want to hire union people and they don’t want the democratic process to work.”

Marida said social justice and environmental groups should work together to further build a movement to oppose and defeat the corporate takeover of our political process.


Her colleague at the Ohio Sierra Club, Ben Wickizer, also said environmental and social justice issues are linked. “We’re seeing attacks on and plundering of our environment, while we’re also seeing attacks on organized labor and the basic needs of individuals in the middle class and working class. So it’s great we can come together and unite and work together on some of these issues.”


Christine Kozobarich also said connecting environmentalism and social justice is a basis for building alliances among a diversity of activist groups. She recently joined Ohio Communities United as a lead organizer.

“That’s a very good way to come together for people who care about progressive issues. Sometimes we get so entrenched in our own issue that we’re working on at the moment that we don’t step back and see how it’s connected to things other people are working on.”

Kozobarich said building alliances that bring together a variety of causes reflects the reality of every day life. “As Ohioans, we all need healthcare. We all need good jobs. We all need safe, secure communities. We all need a healthy environment to live in and raise our children in…We’re not one-issue communities.”

She said events such as the Stand Up For Ohio festival are ways for people to find common cause w/ one another, instead of being divided and conquered w/ wedge issues.

Deb Steele, former Outreach Director at Jennifer Brunner for Senate and currently an organizer w/ Columbus Jobs With Justice, said some politicians have been presenting divisive and false choices to us on many issues.

"We can have jobs and a strong, healthy environment but they want to pretend it’s one or the other... As far as building our coalitions and trying to fight more than one of these fires at once, I think it’s fairly natural and easy.”