Bigger than Unions, Bigger than Wisconsin

New article for YES! magazine:, from the streets and the capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin.


Just before 3:00 a.m. yesterday, while helping myself from a massive pile of donated groceries in the Wisconsin state capitol, I met Taylor Tengwall. He is a junior at UW-Superior with no previous ties to the labor movement—or any movement, for that matter. “I’ve never done anything like this in my life,” he told me.

He first showed up in Madison over a week ago with some friends, expecting to leave two days later. But Tengwall says he was so moved by what he saw, he told his friends to go home without him.

“It’s been the most moving, paradigm-altering experience in my life,” he says, appearing totally energized despite the late hour. “I came here so outraged and angry. So many people did. And they’ve formed something so peaceful and so meaningful.” He’s realized, he says, that “we have power.”


I wrote this article in the middle of the night in the Teachers Assistants Association “situation room” in the capitol building Wednesday, a few hours after driving from Chicago to Madison after work and an hour or two before driving back to Chicago to go straight to work, without a nanosecond of sleep. (I’m still recovering.)


Police in Madison have been slowly pushing protesters out of different parts of the capitol over the last day or so, and have announced they are going to close the whole building on Sunday afternoon. Needless to say, an epic battle is likely in the making.

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