Chalkfest Voting is Open! View the artwork & vote now — Aug. 1

Music Politics

Eaux Claires + Bon Iver Get Out the Swing State Vote with ‘For Wisconsin’

action-based voting initiative includes Justin Vernon, visits, and a van

Eric Christenson |

GET IN THE VAN WITH VERN. Justin Vernon wants to talk to you about Nov. 3. (Photo by Graham Tolbert)
GET IN THE VAN WITH VERN. Justin Vernon wants to talk to you about Nov. 3. (Photo by Graham Tolbert)

So, there's this big election in a couple weeks on Nov. 3. Did you hear about it? It's a pretty big deal, I guess! The battleground state of Wisconsin is set to become a hugely pivotal player in November’s presidential election, and all kinds of folks and organizations are rolling out efforts to get out the vote in these final weeks ... or this case, maybe it’s more like rock the vote?

Today – on National Voter Registration Day no less – the Eaux Claires Festival teamed up with 88Nine Radio Milwaukee to announce a final-push voting initiative called For Wisconsin. The campaign will debut a bunch of cool content over the next few weeks: images, songs, conversations, secret “visits,” a van, and some surprise moments along the way.

“Free speech and freedom begin and end with voting,” the dulcet-toned Michael Perry says in an introductory video for the cause. “If you don’t mark your ballot, someone else will define your Wisconsin and your future.”

“We chose that word ‘visit’ on purpose,” he continues. “As in, shoot the breeze. Swap stories. This won’t be a one-way conversation. This isn’t about dropping in and telling you how to think. ... Rather it’s about how we keep our neighbors in the conversation. How to visit together even if we can’t get together.”

One of For Wisconsin’s first projects will take place in Eau Claire County this month, and it’s called “A Visit With Vernon.” Justin Vernon of Bon Iver will drive a “crazy broke down and built back up van” all over the state to talk face-to-face with undecided voters. You can nominate somebody you know who’s on the fence about voting and why, and that person could end up at a secret meeting with Justin Vernon, where they’ll talk, hang out, and maybe sing a song or two. 

“I try not to judge people,” Vernon says in a press release. “The temperature of our society has us divided. We all want different things, so that makes sense in one way, but in another, I feel we are unduly divided. We ALL need to listen more. And the best way we can communicate with each other on this largest scale is VOTE.”

Finally, the festival’s partnership with 88Nine Radio Milwaukee will find host Tarik Moody doing periodic interviews with influential Wisconsinites about the importance of voting and other topical issues in the state. The first conversation is live this morning, where Moody sits with Chippewa Valley native Bill Hogseth of the Wisconsin Farmers Union.

“One way to rediscover the lost art of listening is to start by doing it and have courage to listen with kindness and curiosity to someone who might not agree with us on every single thing,”" Hogseth said. 

To learn more about For Wisconsin, go to eauxclaires.com. For updates on content and action items, follow the Eaux Claires pages on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

 

Here’s the press release in full:

Today, on National Voter Registration Day, Eaux Claires Festival in partnership with 88Nine Radio Milwaukee is announcing For Wisconsin, a positive, action-based voting initiative with you/the people of Wisconsin. The people at Eaux Claires Festival are responding to a roaring impulse to take action, to get involved in this necessary final push for voting, joining neighbors together to make sure your voice is heard and your vote is counted. We are both leaning in to our creative community and out to you, the people of Wisconsin, to create impassioned moments together that emanate our genuine concern for the place we call home. Over the next few short weeks, For Wisconsin will be sharing images, songs, conversations, surprise moments, a crazy broken down and built back up van (!), secret “visits” - some online and some in person - each individual moment will be created For Wisconsin.
We chose that word ‘visit’ on purpose. As in shoot the breeze. Swap stories. This won’t be a one-way conversation. This isn’t about dropping in and telling you how to think. Or assuming we know what you think. Rather it’s about how to keep our neighbors in the conversation. How to visit together even if we can’t get together. How to lock in your vote EARLY. How to make sure your vote counts.
For Wisconsin has also announced the first in a series of “A Visit with Vernon” contests. The first event will take place in Eau Claire County. Competition instructions are now available on our website and social media platforms. The next location will be announced on Monday 28th September.
We will invite the public to nominate someone close to them who's on the fence about voting and why we should select you and this person for this unique experience. The most compelling submission will be selected and both people (nominee and nominated) will be brought to a secret meeting with Justin Vernon (Bon Iver, Volcano Choir, Big Red Machine - and co-founder of Eaux Claires Festival). Justin wants to visit about voting, not to debate, not to preach, just to visit. He might play a tune, or sing a song but mostly he just wants to talk thoughtfully about voting. Visit eauxclaires.com for entry information.
“I try not to judge people,” Vernon says. “The temperature of our society has us divided.  We all want different things, so that makes sense in one way, but in another, I feel we are unduly divided.  We ALL need to listen more. And the best way we can communicate with each other on this largest scale is VOTE. The campaign I am participating in, For Wisconsin, is a non-partisan drive for voting and a plea to listen.  That means ALL of us listening to ALL of us."
Together with our partners at 88Nine Radio Milwaukee, Tarik Moody will conduct interviews with a host of influential Wisconsinites - where they will discuss the importance of voting, voting early, and highlight other topical issues. 
Moody spoke about his involvement with For Wisconsin, “Voting is just the first important step in having your voice heard, especially at the local level. Voting in every election, not just the presidential one is just as or even more important. But it is what we do after we cast our vote that is vital to make sure our voice is heard. We must keep our elected officials accountable during their terms no matter the party.” 
The first conversation launching today is with Bill Hogseth of the Wisconsin Farmers Union. 
“There is an urgent need to learn how to talk to each other again across the political divide,” Hogseth says. “To see each other not as political opponents but as neighbors, co-workers, friends, and family who are all in this together. One way to rediscover the lost art of listening is to start by doing it and have courage to listen with kindness and curiosity to someone who might not agree with us on every single thing.”
We are also asking you to share your story. Whether it’s the challenges and obstacles you and your neighbors are facing here in the state we call home, your own actions; thoughts, songs, dances For Wisconsin. We plan to share as many of these on our platforms as possible, so please get involved. Let’s do this - together. For Wisconsin.