Joe Driscoll is not only a popular Syracuse musician but a strong community advocate and unopposed nominee for Syracuse City Council. He is also a leader of Uplift Syracuse.
On Thursday, September 21 the public was invited to a fundraiser at Munjed’s Middle Eastern & Greek Cafe on Westcott Street. Besides enjoying food, local music and art guests engaged in productive discussion. How can WE improve Syracuse? What do we envision to make our city a more beautiful and welcoming place to live?
Munjed’s has a cool, welcoming vibe with string lights separating the stage area as well as a full bar and game room. The crowd was diverse in ages and backgrounds. Conversations revolved around supporting Driscoll because he, in some way, supported them. There is a shared vision for our future with people actively networking and promoting each other. Kathleen Metallo-Mason of Kmase Productions, formerly of Eastwood, attended with talent Bea in support. She said that Driscoll shares the beliefs she has in her heart. Edgar Pagan discussed how powerful music can be to relay messages of hope and change before his set with Irv Lyons Jr. “Whenever I get an opportunity to share a message and move things in a positive direction I’m there, said Pagan.” Cayetano Valenzuela, a local artist and member of Uplift Syracuse, was selling his work and has created some logos for the group.The sentiment they all shared was that supporting Joe Driscoll is easy because he genuinely cares about the area and is actively initiating change. “He walks the talk,” as put by Pagan.
Uplift Syracuse, a grassroots advocacy network, plans to organize events that will increase outreach efforts and education to create the changes we wish to see become a reality. Leader Maurice Brown made an announcement that Uplift is now an accredited internship earning credits at Syracuse University. The group actively supports candidates running for public office who share their goals.
Why/when did you decide to get into politics?
I’d always been very passionate about politics. While touring I would read books like Jane Mayer’s ‘Dark Money’, and I was always stunned by the magnitude of the disfunction in modern politics, but never really considered doing anything more than singing about my frustration. I then began getting actively involved in the presidential campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders.
The issues he focused on in his campaign: climate change, campaign finance reform, single payer healthcare, corporate tax accountability; where always the issues i was most passionate about. While pursuing my musical career in the eveings, I began volunteering for the campaign during the days. The local Onondaga County Democratic Committee reached out to our group to offer support and offered us the opportunity to join the committee.
The speech that led to me to become more active in Sanders campaign was when he said “Let me tell you something that no other candidate for president will tell you- that no matter who is elected to president, they will not be able to address the problems of the working families of America… this is about creating a grassroots political movement in this country.”
He continually said if you are frustrated with the current state of affair, run for local office. I accepted the challenge.
How does your background in music & art inspire you to improve Syracuse?
I know it’s not the traditional path, but to me it feels like a very natural progression. I’d always advocated for change thru art and music, and now I’m pursuing it through politics. I feel many of the skill sets are the same: getting a message out, bringing people together, creative problem solving.
What is Uplift Syracuse?
Uplift Syracuse is a progressive advocacy group, working to create a more equitable city by supporting social justice efforts throughout the surrounding region.
How can people become involved?
$27 will get you a year membership. However, all donation levels are accepted.
Why are you so passionate about this cause?
I’ve always had a passion for the city of Syracuse. While there is a lot here to celebrate; I feel like there are many institutional problems we need to tackle. I also believe if we come together, we can solve them together.
What inspires you most?
So far with Uplift, what’s inspired me most is the team we’ve developed. The executive board; Zach Zeliff, Maurice Brown, Christine Wood, and my wife Joyce Driscoll- are so incredibly inspiring. We have a great synergy going with everyone on the team. We’ve got an awesome network of folks volunteering their time and energy, to create positive change here in Syracuse. The folks who keep coming out to our meetings, events, canvasses, and phone banks. They give me the inspiration to keep pushing this movement forward.
Where can we find more information on future events?