Sunday, February 06, 2005

Revitalizing Hope

Sign up for next weekend’s Western PDA conference in Phoenix Cost is only $30.00.

Hi everyone,

I don’t know about you, but after November, and all that’s happened since, I could use a little hope. So I am pleased to let you know that during the inaugural activities, the weather in Washington DC was frigid, but not so the hopes of progressives. 600 Activists from every part of the progressive movement braved the icy temperatures and came together to revitalize hope for America’s future.

Participants represented over 40 states, a wide variety of ages, interests, and ethnicities, and Tucson’s own David Kaler was there. I had a chance to speak with him about the conference on Wednesday.

Dave is aglow! I asked him just what it was that made him feel so hopeful now, even with control of all three branches of government and the fourth estate in the hands of Republicans, pretty depressing to most of us.

He told me that after witnessing the work that PDA (Progressive Democrats of America, started across the river in Cambridge during the democratic convention) had done in just the past six months, he is convinced the country will see something much bigger and stronger than even during the civil rights and Vietnam war era because it comes from the grassroots up. He is awed too at the organizational capacity of those coming together. He said that, listening to people speak who are presently in congress and in leadership in many organizations, he heard a “new tone.” We’re not wasting time on the negative, he said – we are focused on the positive, on building. We are empowered, enthusiastic, speaking clearly about building again the America we inherited from Thomas Jefferson and the other framers of the constitution. He said the feeling in the rooms, everywhere, was “magnetic.”

When David Cobb, leader of the Green Party, showed up to say that he is for what we represent, and people at the summit joined hands who had worked hard for Kerry and for Dean and for Kucinich, David knew there was true coalition building from across the spectrum. People were there from Code Pink, the Rainbow Push coalition, Black and Latino congressional caucuses, GLBT leadership, alternative media (Pacifica radio, J. Zogby, W.R. Pittt), and everyone was focused on one thing: building an effective coalition to take back our country.

The U of WDC law school gave a huge welcome and opened all its facilities. The keynote speaker was U.S. Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr., who wants us to understand that every American shall have the right to vote and that he and many others are taking that as first priority – a constitutional amendment guaranteeing every American the right to vote. Tom Hayden spoke of focusing all of his energies, with 14 other senators, on bringing our troops home now. John Conyers was there to report on the ongoing lawsuits and electoral reform bills in congress that will ensure our right to vote. Hip Hop guru Rev. Lennox Yearwood spoke of the commitment of a whole new generation to “live free again.” Featured workshops included some on following up with the Ohio Voter irregularities and electoral reform, building the grassroots movement at home, media reform, building alliances both within Democratic party and with others, and sessions for regional caucuses (Arizona’s is one of the largest).

Experience it for yourself. The Arizona caucus is hosting the first regional followup conference next weekend, Feb 11 (Amy Goodman) and 12 (Tom Hayden, Medea Benjamin, Rev. Yearwood, many others). You can sign up at Cost is only $30.00.

I sincerely hope to see you there, in peace, gerry

Rev. Gerry Straatemeier, MSW
Co-chair, Gandhi/King Season for Nonviolence, S. AZ

"What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?" ~ Mahatma Gandhi
“We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy…for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.” MLK


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