Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Recognized Expertise

Jay Thomas Taber

As a featured presenter at the December 10, 2005 National Human Rights Conference I was asked to submit this brief biographical note, which has been periodically updated.

On September 8, 2000, I received the Public Good Project (a privately-funded national research network) Defender of Democracy award for "organizing effective opposition to Anti-Indian violence and racism in Washington state."

The Fall 2005 issue of Public Eye Magazine features an article on community organizing that cites my 2001 report Research as Organizing Tool

In February 2006, my essay The Power of Moral Sanction was featured in the international journal Forum for Global Exchange, a publication of the Center for World Indigenous Studies.

In September 2006, my paper Institutional Memory as Community Safeguard was published in Fourth World Journal.

I presently live just north of San Francisco, where, in 2002, I contributed to the development of the graduate program Activism and Social Change within the New College of California school of humanities.


Jay Thomas Taber
(415) 381-9349

December 10, 2005 National Human Rights Conference

November 16, 2002 Confronting War Without End Conference

September 8, 2000 Defender of Democracy award for "organizing effective opposition to Anti-Indian violence and racism in Washington state."

Fall 2005 Public Eye Magazine article on community organizing cites 2001 report Research as Organizing Tool

December 2005 became an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies

February 2006 essay The Power of Moral Sanction featured in the international journal Forum for Global Exchange

September 2006 paper Institutional Memory as Community Safeguard published in Fourth World Journal.

Spring 2002 contributed to development of graduate program Activism and Social Change at New College of California.

Work History:

Library Assistant, New College of California (San Francisco CA) 2001-2002
Editorial Advisor, Bellingham Weekly (Bellingham WA) 1997-2000
Executive Director, Whatcom Environmental Council (Bellingham WA) 1994-1996
Non-Profit Funding Analyst, Jay Taber and Associates (Bellingham WA) 1990-1993


MA Humanities and Leadership, New College of California 2002
BA Humanities (Political Science), New College of California 2001

Biographical Note:

Columnist Fourth World Eye
Administrative Director Public Good Project
Community Organizer portfolio

Writing Samples:


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

By the Time I Was Fifteen

By the time I was fifteen, my friends and I had been joy-riding for some time. Usually with a family car, but on occasion with construction equipment left for the weekend in vacant lots nearby.

The closest we came to being apprehended was the time we drove a road grader down the ramp into the municipal sports stadium and raced around the track until police cars came rolling in with lights flashing, and we had to abandon ship—every man for himself—running in all directions until we could rendezvous later at the site of our former clubhouse, back at the vacant lot lately in the process of being cleared by some of the equipment we’d been operating after hours.

This vacant lot, incidentally, was the same location where we’d once built a giant, tumbleweed, igloo-style fort, complete with an underground entrance and standing headroom inside. Our pal Bud, whose dad was a uniform patrol cop, burned it down one day when he decided to cook hot dogs inside. That was the first time I remember meeting his dad on duty, but it all kind of blurs together with visual memories of the fire trucks arriving as the forty-foot-high flames of Bud’s unintended conflagration were at their peak.

Mostly, we borrowed Jack’s dad’s car by pushing it down the block in neutral and only starting it up once we’d rounded the corner. We thought this was a pretty smooth maneuver until the time we returned in the wee hours once, all tuckered out from shoving the heavy old Mercury back into its parking spot, and discovering half our parents waiting on the porch across the street.

So it was with great relief when we turned sixteen and could use the Mercury without repercussions, as long as we chipped in for gas and washed it on Saturdays. We had some good times in her, too—going on fishing campouts, hunting ducks and geese, and doing pickup work on Jack’s uncle’s farm or loading boxcars down at the rail yards.

But the most memorable experience was the time we decided—after a few beers--to steal some watermelons from a patch outside town. By the time we got there it was pitch black and the farmhouse lights were off, so we just cruised through the field, bouncing over furrows, until we spotted some nice big melons and stopped to load the trunk.

About halfway through our petty larceny, somebody came out of the house yelling and shooting a shotgun in the air, and we all dove in the car through windows and doors as Jack gunned the Mercury, throwing up a cloud of dust as we exited the field for the dirt road out to the highway. All except for Bud, that is, who’d been in front of the car and had no door to dive through and opted instead for a tentative perch on the front fender, from which he managed to buck off when we hit a small ditch, sending him in front of the vehicle, and into the sandy loam as we ran over him.

When we got Bud to the hospital, he was feeling pretty sore, but he didn’t appear to have any broken bones. After waiting in terror of Bud’s dad, we were greatly relieved to learn his injuries consisted of severe bruising, but no internal injuries. Unfortunately, for Bud, his partying for the evening was over. The rest of us decided to celebrate Bud’s miraculous survival by savoring slices of sweet melon on the curb outside.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Jay Thomas Taber
November 2002

Community Service

My 27 years of community service included work on various advisory commissions, campaign committees, task forces, and speaker’s bureaus. Of particular note was my participation in authoring a Natural Heritage Plan for Whatcom County that has in the decade since, made possible the protection of old-growth forests, shorelines, heron rookeries and salmon habitat. Several thousand acres of parklands for hikers and equestrians were also added to the county system by the funding we secured.

I also served as president of Whatcom Falls Neighborhood Association for several years, during which time I helped manage the transition from a largely rural to a more urban setting as our community went through rapid growth. Throughout the ensuing turmoil, I kept our neighborhood in tact by helping facilitate the siting of a new middle school, traffic safety improvements, and negotiations that prevented a new highway from bisecting the area.

In the early 1970s, I helped build the Community Food Co-op and the Fairhaven Organic Flour Mill in Bellingham, Washington. They are both alive and well today.

Political Advocacy

As a political advocate, representing my neighborhood and a public-interest non-profit, I helped develop a process and plan for the protection of our municipal reservoir in Bellingham, Washington. The Lake Whatcom Agenda we put forward was largely responsible for both the election of progressive candidates and the initiation of inter-agency cooperation that did not previously exist.

This experience carried over into comprehensive growth management planning for our entire county, in which I participated as ex-officio advisor to the Whatcom County Growth Management Oversight Committee and numerous neighborhood associations. I was also selected to represent the Nooksack Basin Environmental Caucus in a joint U.S. EPA/Washington Department of Ecology watershed management initiative to recover endangered salmon.

Professional Consulting

In my brief but productive career as a consultant to governments, non-profits and foundations, I functioned primarily as a funding analyst and liaison to agencies involved in regional landscape and watershed management. Secondarily, I performed a promotional and coordinating function bringing together key public leaders and consultant teams to develop such items as proposals, master plans, preliminary studies, and reports used to brief legislators, administrators, and philanthropic institutions.

Two projects I was charged with overseeing, the development of the Whatcom County Non-Motorized Transportation Plan and the Bay to Baker Trail Preliminary Study, involved researching thirty years of multiple agency planning archives, state and federal law and programs related to funding and environmental protection, as well as composing preliminary construction estimates for developing itemized sections of these plans. This work was then integrated with existing transportation and recreation planning and development procedures that enabled the seven state, local, and federal agencies to leverage significant additional funding over the subsequent decade.

One project I was unable to complete prior to moving from Washington State to the Bay Area is Without Their Consent, a documentary film project involving the Lummi Indian Business Council, the Whatcom Human Rights Task Force, and Northwest Indian College. I did however manage to outline the concept for telling the stories of how federal agencies, Indian Health Service employees, white squatters, and underhanded realtors colluded over the past 150 years to alienate tribal and individual native lands within the Lummi Reservation. Crucial videotaped interviews of elders with first hand knowledge have been preserved in anticipation of eventual funding for the project.


In my senior year at New College of California, San Francisco, I produced three important documents: 1. my Prior Learning Portfolio, 2. a national survey of political researchers entitled Research as Organizing Tool, and 3. my senior thesis, Salvaging Democracy.

My Prior Learning Portfolio documented my experiential learning over a ten-year period in four key areas: Networking for Social Change, Organizing Community Involvement in Public Policy, Managing Public Interest Litigation, and Developing Media Relations.

Networking for Social Change is a 20 page examination of case studies of developing regional networks from local connections in government, media, and political activism. It presents my analysis of networking relationships, methods, objectives, and benefits I learned working with neighbors, associations, non-government organizations, churches, public institutions and tribes.

The 24 page Organizing Community Involvement in Public Policy focuses on methods, processes, obstacles, and opportunities with emphases on articulating grievances, conducting research and analysis, networking, active participation, developing an agenda, working in core groups, planning strategy and tactics, gathering intelligence, and mobilizing resources.

In the 21 page Managing Public Interest Litigation, I examine legal activism, with analysis of the litigation process and how it interacts with other venues of societal debate and protest by exploring ancillary benefits derived through a focus on strategy and research.

Developing Media Relations comprises a 12 page review of altering public discussions through news coverage that examines methods of directing media attention, influencing editorial attitude, and creating space for objective and investigative journalism. The emphasis is on generating public interest, circumscribing political violence, and breaking the cycle of misinformation. Case studies expose how to educate, pressure, maneuver and assist local media in covering public affairs.

The 29 page report Research as Organizing Tool is the result of a series of interviews of leading activist researchers on the Far Right in the US that I conducted in the summer of 2001. In this investigation of community-based research as a progressive organizing tool, I comment and reflect on the most salient points of the taped and transcribed interviews summarized in the report.

Salvaging Democracy is a 67 page discussion that began with my inquiry into anti-democratic movements in the US, including research into social movement theory, analysis of societal organization and networks, as well as review of right-wing strategy and tactics. In this look at research as the foundation for community education, organizing and action, I present an overview of the history of American conservatism, and how social movement entrepreneurs manipulate groups targeted for recruitment.

Key elements discussed include sociopolitical models of engagement, the impact of television on the ability to comprehend reality, and reducing aggression of fundamentalists. In addition to my written thesis, I prepared a scripted 45 minute audio-visual presentation that serves as an introduction to understanding the systemic violence of the American Right through an expose of the Wise Use and Anti-Indian movements.

The presentation packet includes handout exhibits and a bibliography of literature and online resources. The chronology of events from my own experience combined with a video reveals domestic terrorism as the unfortunate consequence of intentional actions engineered and choreographed by a nationwide network of right-wing movement professionals.

As a graduate student at New College, I produced two essential documents: my master’s thesis, Communicating Social Transformation, and a curriculum proposal focused on providing future social change agents with specific tools they will need as teachers, organizers, and inspirational leaders engaged in strengthening civil and indigenous societies.

Communicating Social Transformation is a 78 page argument for the public health model of community organizing that builds on my undergraduate thesis by examining primary obstacles to functional democracy in the US. In this paper I define the public health model of operation, discuss the philosophical basis of the model, compare it with other models, delineate specific methods and devices of the model, and review the applicability of the model in three case studies.

The curriculum comprises nine courses adaptable to undergraduate, graduate, and popular venues such as university extension and private adult education. The lower level serves as an introduction to understanding globalization by studying forms of societal organization, social movement development, society in conflict, community safeguards and regulating mechanisms. The upper level prepares students to channel discontent productively through studies of psychological warfare, models of social engagement, grassroots communication, networking and organizing, and analysis of popular education.

Social Activism

My social activism as director of Whatcom Environmental Council took several forms: recruiting participation in growth planning, litigating disputes with local governments, protecting communities from disruption by trade and industry groups, and coordinating community action against organized hate. Two actions in particular stand out: 1. the publication of Paul de Armond's Wise Use in Northern Puget Sound, a 187 page report documenting the involvement of the Building Industry Association in sponsoring unregistered PACs to influence elections and derail growth planning, and 2. the subsequent exposure of their associated field agents in working with paramilitary militia recruiters for the purpose of intimidating the Building Industry’s political opponents.