Nov. 18 2015 11:45 AM

Saturday, Nov. 21

Next week, families all over Greater Lansing will gather around a turkey dinner — or whatever the popular vegan, GMO-free alternative is this year — and reflect on what they are thankful for. Most will express thanks for things like friends, family, a good job or a nice place to hang their hat. But one local group is gathering this weekend to show its gratitude for a politician: U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Lansing For Bernie, a grassroots community organization supporting Sanders’ presidential bid, hosts a fundraising concert, Bernsgiving, at the Avenue Cafe Saturday. The show features performances by local bands Immanuel Can’t and Technically American.

The Avenue has even concocted some special cocktails for the evening, with names like “Feel the Bern” and “Fuel the Bern.” The festivities will also feature trivia contests and a raffle to win prizes, and “Bernie merch” like buttons and bumper stickers will be available for purchase. Lansing for Bernie will also have informational literature and links for anyone interested in supporting the cause.

“The donations will be going to Lansing For Bernie to help fund future events and be able to continue spreading awareness for Bernie, his issues (and) the importance of creating social and political change.” said Sara Long, a Lansing for Bernie member and one of the event’s organizers. “I thought the concert would be a cool way to get people excited about the cause and to enjoy a fun night.”

Lansing for Bernie is one of hundreds of independently organized advocacy groups for Bernie Sanders. It works locally to coordinate volunteers and supporters, collect donations and assist Sanders’ campaign. Long said the group hopes to inspire political reform with its efforts, pushing Lansing residents to “stand against corruption and get Bernie elected for President.”

Planning the show was not an easy task, Long said. Many of bands that the group reached out to turned down the gig, not wanting to associate their names with a politically themed event. The Blue Effect, one of the bands that had agreed to play, canceled due to a scheduling conflict.

“It’s kind of ironic to see bands quick to affiliate with (large, forprofit promoters), but when it comes to community events like this, they don’t want to participate because they don’t want to be a ‘political’ band,” said Samuel Sprague, guitarist for Immanuel Can’t.

Despite the complications, the Facebook event page for Bernsgiving shows that 68 people are planning to attend and another 125 people are interested in going. Long said that the group’s previous events, including monthly meetings and debate-watching parties, have consistently drawn crowds of over 75 people.

“Unlike many groups, (Lansing For Bernie) stresses the importance of getting off the internet to get active in our area,” said Long. “Hopefully, we will inspire others to feel the Bern.”


7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21 $5-$10 suggested donation The Avenue Café 2021 E Michigan Ave., Lansing lansingforbernie