Jonathan Smucker

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Jonathan Smucker

Jonathan Smucker is a Lancaster Pennsylvania activist. He has worked for two decades in grassroots movements for social, economic and ecological justice, as a grassroots organizer, campaigner, and strategist. He has trained thousands of change agents in campaign strategy, framing and messaging, direct action, and other skills. He also researches collective action, identity, and politicization processes as the focus of his doctoral work in the sociology department at UC Berkeley. His writing has appeared in The Guardian, The Nation, The Huffington Post, New Internationalist, VICE Magazine, The Sociological Quarterly, Berkeley Journal of Sociology, and he is the author of Hegemony How-To: A Roadmap for Radicals.[1]

He is a political organizer and strategist and co-founder of Lancaster Stands Up and Pennsylvania Stands Up. He is the author of Hegemony How-To and the forthcoming F*ckers at the Top: A Practical Guide to Overthrowing America's Ruling Class (2021). [2]

Married to Becca Rast.

DSA Members Organizing Against Trump

DSA Members Organizing Against Trump was a letter released early October 2010 to shore up Democratic Socialists of America support for Joe Biden.

Signatories included Jonathan Smucker, Lancaster County Democratic Socialists of America.

Backing Bernie

Lancaster Stands Up membership voted to endorse Bernie Sanders in February 2020. The Sanders campaign has close ties to the group. His national field director, Becca Rast, and deputy field director, Nick Martin, cofounded Lancaster Stands Up. Rast is married to Jonathan Smucker, another cofounder, who helped start Pennsylvania Stands Up, a larger network of progressive groups that includes Lancaster’s.

Pennsylvania Stands Up has eight other chapters, including in Erie County and the Lehigh Valley, as well as Reclaim Philadelphia, which powered the winning insurgent progressive campaigns of District Attorney Larry Krasner and City Councilmember Kendra Brooks.[3]

Old Occupiers

Lots of Zuccotti Park regulars are currently engaged in electoral work in various capacities, including Nelini Stamp, now the director of strategy at the Working Families Party, and Leah Hunt-Hendrix of Way to Win, a women-founded progressive donor and political strategy hub. There’s also Jonathan Smucker, who went from being a core member of Occupy’s ad hoc press team to the political director of Pennsylvania Stands Up, which supports insurgent candidates in his home state.[4]

CSS Board

Center for Story-based Strategy board as of 2015;[5]

Lancaster Stands Up

Going door-to-door is one of “the skills of democracy that have atrophied over the last 40 years,” says Jonathan Smucker, another Lancaster Stands Up founder and a veteran of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Tall and thin and white with salt-and-pepper hair, he paces the room and asks the audience to name the social movements that have used canvassing as a key organizing tool. The civil-rights movement, says one person. The labor movement, chimes in another. The suffragists, says still another.

“We think Trump was able to win because Democrats haven’t fought visibly for working people,” he tells the crowd. “We need a party that knows it has a grassroots force at its back so it doesn’t cower to big money anymore.” Creating that force will require rehabilitating atrophied civic muscles and that, at its core, is what Lancaster Stands Up is all about.

Smucker instructs the meeting attendees to get up from their seats and form two rows facing each other. One row will play the role of progressive canvassers, the other row will pretend to be apathetic though somewhat sympathetic voters. The clamor of voices reverberates through the room as the trainees talk among themselves, as they learn how to approach strangers and pull them into the political process, as they take part in a small simple practice that could go an awful long way toward rebuilding our democracy.

“Cut!” says Smucker, who, as it happens, is the second-cousin-once-removed of the congressman his group hopes to depose. “Cut! Cut! Cut!”

After a quick debrief, the dress rehearsal is over and the attendees are dismissed. With their new skills, with their willingness to experiment and listen and learn, with their populist anti-establishment platform, the Lancaster Stands Up crew is ready to hit the streets and persuade people to take part in a new kind of politics.[6]

Lancaster Stands Up Leadership Team

Lancaster Stands Up: the handful of folks who called for the initial emergency community meeting November 2016 has since then developed into a multiracial and multigenerational 11-person coordinating team, which includes Eliza Booth, Rafael Diaz, Amber Farward, Evan Gentry, Michelle Hines, Daniel Levin, Claudia Paz, Jonathan Smucker, Susan Wenger, Ismail Yoder Salim, and Melanie Yoder Salim (previous members who served: Amanda Kemp, Nick Martin, Becca Rast, Nelly Torres).

Since May, our Leadership Team has been preparing our next steps—how to move from protest to political power. We have been polling our base and talking with volunteers to figure out how to move this important work forward. We have been developing a clearer and more sustainable structure to allow LSU members to contribute their time, energy, passions, and gifts for the work ahead.[7]

Beyond the Choir Staff

Beyond the Choir staff November 2018:[8]

Beyond the Choir/Lancaster Stands Up

Lancaster Stands Up is a member-led organization. Our staff work to support our member leaders throughout Lancaster County with base-building, campaigning, leadership development, and much more.

We are very grateful for our partnership with Beyond the Choir, which in 2018, hired three full-time organizers to support the ongoing work of Lancaster Stands Up and specifically the development of a door-to-door canvass operation to elect Jess King and down-ballot state house and senate candidates.

"Peace" comrades


Judith LeBlanc February 16, 2016 near New York, NY ·

This was the key to success of the Global Day Feb 15, 2003 the World Says No to War action and every anti war demo there after...rubbish picking for cardboard polls for signs. — with Jonathan Matthew Smucker, Leslie Kielson, Beka Economopoulos, Leslie Cagan, Osagyefo Sekou, Leslie Kauffman, Hany Khalil and Diane Greene Lent.

Committed radicals

Jonathan Smucker with Judith LeBlanc

Jonathan Smucker has been politically active since he was a high school student in the 1990s. He was one of the leading forces behind the anti-globalization protest known as A16 in 2000. He’s been an organizer ever since, and authored the book “Hegemony How-To: A Roadmap for Radicals.”

Becca Rast and Smucker married and moved to Oakland, where Rast was a top organizer for, the cutting-edge environmental group that made opposing the Keystone XL pipeline a top priority.

But eventually, they felt the pull of home. “I have my values because I grew up here, and because my parents chose to raise me in a Mennonite church, and because I learned about inequality both in the U.S. and the world from growing up here. And when I left, a lot of people told me the place that I’m from could never be progressive, would always be conservative. And I let myself believe that a little bit. And then as I learned how to organize and what it meant to organize working people and make political change, I realized just how much deep potential there is here,” Rast said.

So they moved back to Lancaster in 2016 to prove them wrong. “I just really, deeply believe that the Democratic Party and progressive movements have written off places like this in the country and it’s a huge mistake, and that urban, small cities like Lancaster, Harrisburg have the potential to transform this country if we actually do organizing across class, race, and geographical lines.”[10]

SmartMeme fam

Doyle Canning December 13, 2010:


SmartMeme fam @ our wedding...pic by Allana Taranto of ARS MAGNA STUDIO — with Jonathan Smucker, Myla Ablog, Justin Francese, Maryrose Dolezal, Kalila Barnett, Raeanne Sagan and Amaad Rivera.

For May Day and Beyond

For May Day and Beyond: White People Stepping Up for Immigrant Rights! was a letter circulated in May 2006, among people mostly affiliated with the Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

Open Letter to White Communities

In the past month, five million people, mostly immigrants of color, have mobilized for justice and are making history, flooding the streets in unprecedented numbers. Meanwhile, the most visible participation by white people is coming from the racist and right wing leaders who are defining and dominating the debate in the Federal government and in the news, radio and opinion pages. Where are the voices of anti-racist white people in this crucial moment, when the worst anti-immigrant legislation in decades is still poised to drop?

Signatories included Matthew Smucker, Lancaster Coalition for Peace & Justice, Lancaster PA . [11]

"Peace" comrades


Judith LeBlanc February 16, 2016 near New York, NY ·

This was the key to success of the Global Day Feb 15, 2003 the World Says No to War action and every anti war demo there after...rubbish picking for cardboard polls for signs. — with Jonathan Matthew Smucker, Leslie Kielson, Beka Economopoulos, Leslie Cagan, Osagyefo Sekou, Leslie Kauffman, Hany Khalil and Diane Greene Lent.