Stuff I like: Forward Montana

Many people in our generation feel like they are stuck on a media-made rollercoaster ride so very hostile, so full of scandals, war, lying politicians, pop-princesses, commercialism and/or robots, that they are emotionally exhausted and, on occasion, utterly overwhelmed. Some react with apathy and couch potato-ing (all the rage for those pursuing the slacker career track), while others react with passion, progressive action and bunnies. Forward Montana, a non-profit organization aimed at encouraging tomorrow’s leaders, belongs to that second group.

As is the case with the majority of people raised in front of their televisions, this organization hearts new media. It is the first line of attack for this group; virtually everything they touch involves methods and mediums that allow for maximum innovation, entertainment, and wit (re: generational references up to wazoo) in an attempt to get the young, progressive types mobilized. This group is a lot like the revival of the 80s-themed t-shirts and aviator sunglasses, they are culturally relevant and a bit goofy - but unlike Thundercats, political activism will never go out of style.

It turns out that new media hearts them back. A quick Google search of Forward Montana garners a plethora of hits, including featured spots on multiple political websites, blogs and networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, WordPress, Wikipedia, Volunteerforchange.org, DCVote.org, Westernstatescenter.org, PICnet.net, futuremajority.com, and think.MTV.com, just to name a few. Take a gander at the online versions of various Montana newspapers and you could spend weeks sifting through the results. At the time this was written the exact number of articles they had in the Missoulian was eleventy billion. Don’t quote me on that.

Besides their love of the world wide inter-web, what really sets them apart is their fusion of music, art and politics. Typically, it is the artists who make bold political statements with their creations. In the case of Forward Montana, political activists reach out to the artists. It’s a symbiotic relationship; the artists get their work seen and heard, and the art brings the passion out in people. When that fails, Pink Bunnies making death threats seem to get people moving. Also, ninjas. To be fair, the Pink Bunnies are a very cute arm of the organization – they promote voter re-registration through hugs, love and the threat of violence.

Under the pretext of fun, Forward Montana recruits and educates people through a number of diverse events. The conversion of their own offices into art galleries has been renamed “Soap Box Art.” In homage to a Halloween tradition, Trick-or-Vote is an attempt to make the time-old tradition of knocking on doors to promote your politics a little more exciting. Plus goblins and candy are great motivating tools for the volunteers. There’s even an after party so they can let their hair down with music, costumes, and refreshments. The Naked Truth is a speaker series featuring experts from around the country and a well-stocked bar. Speaking of bars, they also host a Progressive Happy Hour ever Monday night at 5 p.m. at the Badlander in Missoula.

So, if you like soapboxes, ghouls, speakers, politics, beer, art, or bunnies, you may want to check out one of their events. You can also work for them, intern, or volunteer. If for no other reason than morbid curiosity, just do it. If you want two reasons, there is a really surly bunny just waiting to have a “talk” with you, your family, and your family’s family.

Don’t say I never warned you if you wake up with a carrot head in your bed.

Not Right. Not Left. Just Forward.

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