Thursday, May 29, 2008

Political One Liner of the Week Award

So, today I was chatting on Facebook with my old pal Megan Thomas. Megan was relating to me a story of a friend of hers that passed away from lung cancer (non-smoking related...and the poor guy was only 27...super sad). The young man happened to be a huge supporter of Hillary Clinton. At the memorial service today, the following remark was made:

"Mike had to go to heaven to help Hillary. Because only a miracle can help her now."

That definitely qualifies for the Political One Liner of the Week Award. Awarded to Megan Thomas on behalf of the young man who passed away much much too soon.

The Enron Factor

I am pretty much exhausted. I work for an organization comprised of largely kick ass individuals that I respect and love. But, like many small non-profits still in the start-up phase, we have lots and lots and lots to figure out when it comes to organizational development and personal interactions. I am as guilty as the rest of falling into the personalities not policies trap.

One of the strengths of organizing in the political left is that we value not only the product but the process and the people. For many of us, if the product is stellar but the process to develop it is fucked up and the people involved in creating the product walk away from the process hurting (physically, mentally, spiritually) then, truthfully, the product is worthless. Our inherent difference from the Corporate Right is that the total value of an outcome is not solely based on the worth of the product but indeed the worth of the entire endeavor from start to finish. The belief that only outcomes matter continues to be at the core of mainstream society and at the heart of the underpinnings of our capitalist system and our democracy.

Liberty Tree works specifically around democracy issues. At our core, we reject winner take all systems because, frankly, those systems are the “democracy” equivalent of Enron. At Enron, the bottom line was dollars and profits and it didn't matter that the process to create the dollars was flawed, faulty, and false. It didn't matter that while some few would become mega rich that the people involved, particularly the workers, would eat the penalities at the cost of their pensions when the three Fs were un covered. In a winner take all democratic practice, it doesn't matter how the process to get elected happens, who pays for it, what promises are made and not kept or the margin by which victory is declared (ie plurality versus majority) the only thing that matters is victory and the people left without representation or voice be damned and the shredded and mortally wounded democratic process be buried alongside the people. At Enron it was the top executives that “won.” In the American Democracy, it is generally Senators, Representatives, Governors and Presidents that are the Ken Lays.

Unfortunately, at times, these same values to which all U.S. citizens to some degree are inculcated manage to sneak across the center aisle, weave through the liberals and sneak into the progressive community. In the last couple of weeks, both internal to my own organziation and to organizations with which I volunteer the depth of the infiltration of the “me first, me second, me last and always” mentality has been unveiled. But there is a difference, on the right the Me Mentality is often calculated and conscious. On the Left, particularly the revolutionary left, it is a subconscious act that the conscious radical rejects while actively acting it out. I am no exception. When I find my personal issues triggered, I find myself to be a masterful player of the Me game. To my credit, when I am confronted (or I confront myself, which also happens) I do what I can to seperate the Me from the what's right and try to make amends for any actions I took in defense of my self interest that crossed from self preservation into selfishness.

I once believed that all my comadres and copadres on the left had the same ability and desire to overcome, reject, and replace the Corporate Right instincts that have been ingrained into us by pop consumer captialist culture. I am still convinced that 98% of my friends and loved ones that are seeking to change the world for the better are still committed to fighting the three Fs both personally and in the political realm and excorcising them. But, I realized today, after thinking over some of the struggles of the last couple of weeks, that there are some people on the Left that even when lovingly given the grace to confront their own inner Ken Lay instead hire an internal Karl Rove to run a public image campaign to allow them to continue presenting one reality while living another. For the first time in a long time, my faith has been shaken. Or, perhaps better to say, that for the first time in my life I am considering walking away from particular people because I do not believe they want to be different than they are now. Even more sobering is that there have been times in my life when people in my life have felt the same way about me.

Monday, May 26, 2008

L.I.C.E and M.I.C.E

I think that everyone should be forced to take Continuing Education Credits and need to be re certified on basic skills learned in kindergarten at least once every five years. In particular, everyone should be forced to take a Live Interactive Courtesy Evaluation (LICE) and a Minimum Interaction Communication Evaluation (MICE) with a passing grade in order to be able to talk or otherwise interact with other living creatures including common pets and domestic livestock.

Let me explain how I came to this conclusion. This afternoon, I was attempting to take a nap on a languid early summer day in Madison. Taylour's apartment looks out over Lake Mendota. The vista combined with 45 minutes of canoing earlier in the afternoon and a tasty lunch had given me the -itis (for more information on the -itis please see Aaron McGruder's Boondocks). I had settled down on the Green Pleather Couch (aka my bed away from home when I visit the office in Madison) only to be awakened by the irate slamming of the microwave door, the bathroom door, several cabinets, and a plethora of pots and pans. Thus returned Andy.

Andy is Taylour's special needs roommate. In general, he is a likable guy. He is fairly quiet, and he is prone to passive aggressive fits of preschool playground behavior. I rose from my nap, and tip-toed into the kitchen. I knew that Andy had often gone nuclear on Taylour over a stray dish left in the sink. So, I ran water in my rice pot and into the wok and jumped in the shower with the intention of cleaning the dishes after I emerged. As I was toweling off, I was again aurally assaulted by another round of slamming and banging dishes and pots and pans followed by the crash of the kitchen door being flung open and slammed shut.

I emerged from the bathroom, this time, ready to cut a bitch in the throat. I looked in the kitchen to find the wok was missing. Then, a moment later, Taylour entered. I was hoping that she had temporarily gone crazy and had been the one slamming things around. Alas, it was too much for which to hope.

“Andy is mad because you put soap in his wok,” she said shrugging and looking apologetic for his asinine behavior.

“Andy needs to grow the hell up and stop slamming shit around like he was on the playground and the girls wouldn't let him play jump rope with them,” I said.

Turns out, to compound the situation, Andy was drunk. Drunk at 5pm on a Monday....GO ANDY GO (I am a little bit jealous). But, drunk or no, I expect anyone over the age of say 18 that has a full time job and a college degree to be able to knock on the bathroom door and say, “ shouldn't put soap in the wok, let me show you how to clean it, so it doesn't lose the seasoning.”

Instead, I got the hipster femme biznatch that decided to do a scene from Stomp in the kitchen. Newsflash Andy, I don't read Morse code. But I sure do know lots of interesting symbols and gestures of my own that I would be happy to show you next time you throw a tantrum in the kitchen.

To quote Jenelope from that classic piece of cinema, Bring It On, “You been touched by an angel, girl.”

Anyone that has lived with me, that I have dated, or that is related to me knows that waking me from a nap is dangerous and that waking me from a nap for some bullshit has a direct mathematical relationship to the waker's continued good health. Andy is truly blessed that my love of Taylour and her continued ability to cover rent outweighed my desire to take a cheese slicer and peel Andy's face into thin slivers and feed them to Taylour's dog Cooper.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Accountability is not just for Accountants!

Accountability has become a big deal for me. At times in my life, I have run away from accountability or any situation in which I felt that I would be held accountable. Even now, I do not relish being held accountable for the stupid things that I still, from time to time, do. But, I am making a concentrated effort, particularly in my work life, volunteer life, and in my relationships, to be accountable and to hold the people I care about accountable.

Accountability to me is not a prejorative term. I believe that when I am held accountable (no matter how much I hate it) I am being helped to grow and become a better person. Now I have been on the receiving end of negative emotional fueled accountability, and I have been the recipient of loving accountability. The type of accountability that I am talking about and support is loving accountability...loving accountability is a process in which the humanity, fallibility, and worth of the person you are holding accountable is forefront in the accountability process.

Today, I had two interactions that have made me think about accountability. I received a rather terse email from an individual with whom, in the past, I have only had pleasant and mutual respectful interactions. But, our last few interactions have been characterized on his part by a cold, standoffish bitchiness that caught me off guard. So, today, I responded to his email with a gentle response and brought up to him that I had noticed a change in our interactions and that if there was something for which I needed to be held accountable to please bring it to my attention. He wrote back another short and snippy email that was briefly accusatory (he said I do not follow through with my promises), and I responded explaining what I knew of the promise I made (to attend a series of meetings when I could) and explaining also that I had started a new job in late winter which meant that I could not attend any meetings. I then asked him if there was something else to which I had committed myself for which I did not follow through. He responded with silence.

The second interaction I had came just this evening while attending the kick-ass Allies for Justice dinner. Lately, the board of directors of Headwaters has been engaged in some very emotional and complicated decision making processes around a range of issues. The processes involved have sometimes been less than ideal, including a process that happened earlier this week. A board member that I highly respect, in my opinion, dropped the ball in such a way that it caused more complications in an already complicated process. Avoiding Minnesota Nice, I called her immediately, expressed my concerns in a voicemail, and I asked her to return my phone call so we could discuss the matter further. She chose not to return my phone call and then, tonight, when I saw her in person, she gave me the cold shoulder as well. In this situation, I was taken by surprise, particularly since I was the one that had asked her to be accountable. I greeted her warmly, and she responded in a way that I thought was far far beneath her.

In both circumstances I was dealing with individuals far older than myself that were acting like people half my age. Both are members of the social justice community in Minneapolis and both are queer. We belong to a small community in which these sorts of issues become wedges that keep us from working case one: I offered to be accountable if necessary and that offer was ignored, and in case two: I asked for her accountability and that was also ignored. In both situations I was not interested in somene being right and someone being wrong. I was (and still am) interested in a dialogue that allows all folks involved to express their feelings and to figure out how to acknowledge the situation, rememdy it, and begin the process of rebuilding trust and relationships.

I am not saint. I fuck up constantly. And I also have done exactly what these two folks did today. So please read that I am in no way offering myself as an example of the meritorious human being that always does the right thing and is ready to own up to his shit at all times. That is far from the mark. But I do feel, that when someone offers you a chance to reconcile and move on that it should be a no brainer that you do the brief work to figure things out instead of creating more drama and more issues that will, most likely, need to be addressed one way or the other.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bookin' It II: Writing Boogaloo

So, I am in the middle of the fifth chapter of my as of yet unnamed book. As I am writing this bad boy, I have found myself in a constant struggle not only with being as true as possible to a set of circumstances from which, at this point, I am more than 12 years and a thousand miles distant but also with a litany that keeps cycling through my brain...why are you writing this...who anyone going to read this funny this too funny...can you write a memoir this there a right the hell do you get a damn book are dumb if you think anyone is going to publish this...when should I let folks start reading chapters to provide feedback. The list seems to go on ad infinitum.

I have found, though, that even with the struggles that come with writing the book, I am loving it. I am loving the process, I am loving the challenge, and I am loving forcing myself to delve into memories of perhaps one of the most turbulent times of my life (and for those that have known me...I can count the non-turbulent times on one foot). I have decided that the scope of the book is going to go from my sophomore year of college at Warren Wilson through my trip to Puerto Rico as a senior at the University of Minnesota. In the grand epochs of my seems my life has naturally broken itself into various ages...birth to junior high...high school to the end of my freshmen year of sophomore year of college up to my trip to Puerto Rico and my return to North return to Minnesota in 2001 to 2003 and the entrance of HIV into my world....2003 to Albuquerque and my return from Albuquerque to the present time. Good lord, that is a lot of subdivisions for a guy that is only 30 years old. At least I know that if this book sells, I have at least a good five or six more I can put out, and perhaps by the time those are done a new chapter in my life history will have been completed, so I can keep the paychecks coming.

Actually, writing this book has been a great exercise, and it has rekindled my love for great speculative fiction. I wrote a play a couple of years ago now about a vampire, since childhood I have read anything and everything I could get my hands on concerning vampires, and I have seen just about every major vampire flick from the early 80s forward (plus the original Dracula and snippets of Nosferatu). I love vampires, I love Anne Rice's vampires, I love Bram Stoker's vampires, I love Joss Whedon's vampires, and I think that the next project (see me always thinking ahead) is going to be my own take on the vampire legends. But, you know, I haven't finished the book I am currently working on.

Writing is such a beautiful beautiful thing. Folks have complimented me on my writing. And I have deeply appreciated those compliments, but I feel as if my ability to write is akin to someone that can sing their butt off, or is a piano virtuoso...there is hard work that goes into developing the talent, but, in the end, it is a genetic predisposition that resulted from the luck of the draw. Some people can see a piece a woman in a piece of marble, and I just see marble. The key, for me, is encouraging everyone to find their gifts and to explore them and share them and appreciate them as well. And I appreciate the opportunity to share my gifts, and hard work, with those around me. And, if by chance, someone gets laughter, joy, a good cry, or an aha moment from something I've written, then all the better.

Monday, May 19, 2008

We Are Family...

Family is a powerful creature. I spend exactly a quarter of the time wondering how the hell I survived growing up, another quarter time wishing I had a better relationship with my siblings, and the rest of the time I very simply love my family.

Last weekend, my family gathered to throw a fundraiser for my kick ass cousin Jim, who is a leukemia survivor and just had an experimental surgery involving a transplant of stem cells from his brother into his body...which has been amazing. His body not only has recovered, but, because of the stem cell transplant, Jim is no longer an indentifcal twin. He received the stem cell transplant from his older brother, Joe, and he now has Joe's blood type and will most likely develop Joe's food and plant allergies. Weird.

As I have been hanging out with my uber awesome niece Shayla and my little cousins Lonnie David, Danielle, and Edison James, I was struck that truly a new familial generation has arrived. Because Shayla is the oldest and calls me Uncle Billy her cousins have also taken to calling me Uncle Billy as well. Technically, Shayla is my niece, Lonnie david and Danielle are my first cousins, and Edison James is my first cousin once removed (the son of my cousin Ed). It is rather personally funny for me because I refer to my Dad's cousin with whom he was raised, my Aunty Bev, as Aunt Bev...and my other brothers and sisters also referred to Aunty Bev's sister Sharon as Aunty Sharon. I can actually remember when Sharon and her brother Vincent stilled lived at home with their Mother, so I call them by their first names. Family is fluid and funny.

One of my best memories from this weekend, besides nearly a hundred relatives and their friends coming together to raise thousands of dollars for my cousin Jim (at a honky tonk bar in Rice Lake, MN with my second cousin once removed's 70s rock cover band playing “Sweet Home Alabama), was of my little cousin Lonnie David. Lonnie is just shy of his third birthday and he is learning to be potty trained. Well, at one point, he went to the bathroom like a big boy (aka had peed in his baby pot). I was walking past the bathroom, and this adorable little brown boy rushes out of the bathroom and says,

“Uncle Billy, give me high five.”

So I give him a high five.

“Uncle Billy, give me a kiss!”

So I give him a kiss.

“Yuck!” He says and wipes his face giggling.

I was dying of laughter at that point. The kid has impeccably comedic timing, and in a family where sarcasm is a genetically inherited trait that boy is gonna give Margaret Cho a run for her money.

The other golden moment of the weekend was the night I spent at my Aunt Susie's house. Aunt Susie has always been an early riser. The new house that my Uncle Joe built her is fairly open. Two of my cousins and I had slept on the second floor in the loft/office area. So voices from the living room carried easily upstairs. Since I was so far north that it was too cold for Jesus to visit for most of the year, the sun comes up about as soon as it sets in the summertime. So, I woke up Sunday morning to a chorus of voices and laughter. And then I hear the overdeveloped, uberpowerful longs of my two year old cousin Edison James shout, “Is Uncle Billy still sleeping?”

I took this as my cue that I must have slept in ridiculously late. I come down the stairs, contacts scratching my eyeballs, and I see my Aunt Sue frying sausages in the kitchen. The sun is up and everyone else is sitting in the living room. I ask Aunt Sue, “What time is it.”

“It's getting' late. Twenty past six!” She said it with such wicked delight, that I screwed up my face, grabbed a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie and said, “You people are sick. I'm going back to bed.”

I then lumbered up the stairs and laid back down until eight.

Family is something else. Our is as dysfunctional as most, better than some, and worse than others...but when it comes down to it...we are like the Irish Clans of fuck with one of fuck with all of you better bring your shillelagh or your stem cells, cuz it's on.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Please and Thank You

What the hell ever happened to please and thank you? Now, don't get me wrong, I am no Miss Manners. But growing up, I was taught that when you bumped into someone or otherwise invaded someone's personal space by proximity or accident, you said “excuse me.” When you were given a gift or someone gifted you with an act of kindness (holding a door open, etc.) you said thank you. And, when you asked for something, even if you are paying for it, you say please. Common courtesy goes a hell of a long way.

Now maybe because I have been spending a bit of time in New York lately, I am finding myself on edge, but I swear to God the Father, his Son Jesus, their pal the Holy Ghost, Mary Magdalene, Mary Mother of God, and Maria Fuentes the tranny working girl from down the block, if one more person is unnecessarily rude to me, I am going to go Miss Manners Commando and start cutting bitches with impunity.

The latest rude moment I encountered was perhaps the single most perfect walking and talking example of irony I have ever experienced. I was sitting on my return flight from New York to Minneapolis and the flight attendants parked their goodie cart right by my seat. Now I was attempting to sleep as was the gentlemen in front of me. And the guy across the aisle from me was trying to read his book. The female flight attendant is talking in the loudest most obnoxious New York accented English possible telling the male flight attendant about a rude experience she had with a passenger that was yelling at her in Spanish because she did not speak French and they were on a flight to Paris. The female flight attendant was going on and on and on about how rude this woman was being all the while not giving a good two shits that she was running her damn mouth at decible levels that usually require a permit.

If it wasn't likely to get me shot by an air marshall in our post 9-11 travel world, I would have gotten up and shoved a pair of my dookie stained underwear from my carry on bag in her mouth. If you are going to embrace diarrhea of the mouth, then I am going to help you experience it literally. I absolutely love New York, but I do not love the lack of manners. Maybe I am getting a little more Midwestern as I age, but I just can not see any excuse for not engaging and respecting your fellow movers through life with a little basic respect. I mean, we all screw up now and again. We all have bad days once in a while. But, I refuse to believe that ten million people are living such rough lives that they are at BitchCon Delta 24/7.

Don Miguel in the Four Agreements says to not taking anything personally. Lord I am trying, but some of the folks with whom I have interacted lately would push Ghandi to consider mass murder. Namaste ya'll. Namaste.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Political One Liner of the Week Award

Last summer I started a tradition of awarding the One Liner of the Week Award. This award was granted to a member of the Slammers (my softball team) that came up with the wittiest line during the week.

Tonight I start a new tradition: The Political One Liner of the Week Award. The first ever recipient of this award is Taylour Johnson...aka Tay Tay Begay...aka Little Chicken. Taylour recieves this award for the line:

"We are on stolen land. We stole people to come till our stolen land. And we built 'our' (white people) democracy because of 'our' (white people) theft. "

Congratulations Taylour...u put the sass in USASS.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Lube It Up

Saturday night I did something I never even slightly imagined myself doing even in one of my porn quality wet dreams: lube wrestling.

I love my softball team. The Slammers are the provebial shit. I decided not to play this summer as I am strictly enforcing the Mary J. Blidge Rule: No More Drama. When coach told me that there were gurls from the team that had issues with me, I decided not to go back to junior high. If you have a problem with me, tell me. If not, it is actually your problem and not mine. There is nothing I can do about an issue if it is not brought to my attention. A bitch might look like Miss Cleo's mixed grandbaby, but psychic I am not. And though I be Minnesotan born and bred, I am committed to leaving Minnesota nice behind and dealing with people face to face.

I love my friends, and I respect my friends, and I love my friends enough to tell them when they have pissed me off, hurt me, or made me happy. That is the mark of a true friend, someone that is not just there for the good shit but for the bad shit and they let you have your shit and hold you accountable for it. As I told my good friends David Cobb and Patrick Barrett..."I am going to fuck up. It is my hope that when I fuck up that you afford me the graciousness of holding me accountable and letting me make amends. And I will afford you that same grace." The Golden Rule is great but when the Golden Rule is broken apply the Golden Principle: Allow Others to Be as Human as You Are.

But anyone, I digress, Saturday night, in support of my softball team, I allowed myself to be stripped half naked in public (for those of you that know me...I DO NOT ALLOW MY BACKFAT TO SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY...ESPECIALLY STROBE LIGHTS). Hoppe, my teammate, and I were lubed up and had two minutes to go at it. After about one minute, I was out of breath and hoping desperately that Hoppe would pin my ass so that I could put my clothes back on. It didn't help that I had just come directly form Melissa Tangye's graduation party and had gorged myself on fried chicken, teriyaki chicken, and grilled chicken. Basically, if a chicken clucked anywhere in a ten mile vicinity, I had eaten it that evening. Add to that several glasses of reisling, a plate of pasta salad, two slices of homemade pizza, and two rum and cokes...and I left the ring, showered, got dressed, went to the bathroom and threw the hell up. Hoppe bruised my tonsils, and I spent the next half an hour convinced that pro-wrestlings must be secretly anorexic.

It was a fucking blast.

I love my people. I love my Slammers. And though I can not be as present as I would like to be, I am present when I can be. Though this winter I was going through some things, was sick as hell on several occassions, and had a minor break down, I still show up when it matters. Whether it is buying a table at an event to support New York and Isha Mae, going to a Hawai'in concert with Titi, or getting slathered in ID lube and then having my ass kicked publicly, I show up for the people I care about in ways that matter.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Bookin' It

I have led a very interesting life for someone that has not yet finished out his 30th year of living. For a person that grew up poor and at times near homelessness, I have seen and done quite a bit, less than many but more than most. I have, because of luck or the love of friends, been a part of some moments that will most likely be talked about in history books one day: the first Day of Silence, the first Youth Pride in DC, part of the planning committee for the first U.S. Social Forum, etc. I have also lived through some shit. And done some shit. Some of which I am proud of some of which I am deeply not proud.

As I look back at the last thirty years of life, look at my life now, and continue with my commitment to maintain my joy and strictly apply the Mary J. Blige Rule: No More Drama, I am trying to systematically revist my memories and those experiences that, at least at this point in my life, I believe have done much to shape who I am, where I've gone, and the choices (good and bad) that I have made.

A couple of weeks ago, I started writing a book. I have started many a book in the past. The furthest I had ever gotten before was two perhaps three pages. As of this evening I am in the middle of the third chapter and some twenty or so pages into the project. The book starts off shortly after I turned 19 with a trip I took with some friends to Washington DC to see the AIDS Memorial Quilt the last time that it was fully displayed. In the narrative of my life, particularly now as an HIV positive adult, that experience was and continues to be important. I am writing the book as a memoir. It is creative non-fiction that uses a sassy humor that I hope will both examine personal and collective experiences and help me better understand who I am.

Writing this book has been both liberating and terrifying. There are narratives that I have told to myself and to others that have not always been the most honest and truthful. But, the stories that I have told myself are the ones that I needed to tell in order to get me through. But, as I look back over time and at my failure to face my own shortcomings or my downplaying the choicies of others and the impact of those choices on my life, I see how I have sold myself short and robbed myself of the honest self-evaluation that leads to growth.

Yesterday I went for a walk with Titi around Southdale Mall. Titi is a brilliant man. One of those rare individuals that is honest and tough and you know, even as he is breaking you down, that he is doing so because of love. Titi has let me have it on a couple of occassions. With most folks, I immediately get defensive...Titi's approach to accountability is one that is forthright and pre-emptively disarms those self-defense instincts. As we were talking yesterday, about a range of topics, I mentioned to him how as I have been writing and finishing drafts of chapters, I have found myself going back and re-reading, re-writing, and going deeper into the experiences that I have had.

Titi had some wisdom to share over Dairy Queen blizzards. Titi explained it to me like this, he said that our brains are built to defend us from particular emotions and experiences. Sometimes we are unable to access those experiences because we are not ready to face the reality of what was really going on. But, he said, as we lay down, through writing or whatever, those experiences, each time our brain allows us to add another layer of perception and understanding. As we grow and face that which we need to face, we are able to deepen our memory and, thusly, our interaction with the truth of our experiences.

As I write about some beautiful and tough experiences in my life, I hope that I am able to maintain the bravery necessary to make this more than just a ra-ra to me. Without being morose, I want to be able to critically look at my life, a life that has, without a doubt, been full of humor even at its ugliest moments. I want to be able to show my humanity while still maintaining a joyful engagement with the comedy of errors that is living. And, also, as I tap into the feelings that I have held on to for far too long, it is my hope that I can release them on to the pages and out into the world. Holding on to the lessons of life is necessary, holding on to the hurt is not.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


May 1, 2008

Contact: Brandon Lacy Campos, Associate Director
Organization: Liberty Tree Foundation
Phone: 612-408-7375 Email:


Exclusive Media Access for Speakers at Democracy Day conference,
to be Held in Conjunction with the National Conference on Media Reform

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - On June 5, 2008 hundreds of democracy activists and organizers will gather for Democracy Day, a one-day gathering organized in conjunction with the National Conference on Media Reform. Democracy Day is a joint project of the Liberty Tree Foundation, FairVote, Public Campaign and Common Cause with support from local partners FairVote MN, Verified Voting, TakeAction Minnesota and the Center for Election Integrity Minnesota. This one day conference will take place at the Minneapolis Hilton from 9:00am-7:00pm. Registration information can be found at Complimentary registration for members of the media can be obtained by calling Ross Margulies, FairVote Development Director, at 301.270.4616.

Former Congressman Dr. Bob Edgar (D-PA), Executive Director of Washington, D.C. based Common Cause, stated that, “While every day should be Democracy Day in America, this conference provides a special opportunity for activists and experts to come together and strengthen the movement for self-government in our country.”

In the run-up to the upcoming presidential elections, the Democracy Day conference will include workshops addressing electoral reform, instant runoff voting, election integrity and protection, student unionism, and a host of other visionary work aimed at expanding, deepening, broadening, and protecting U.S. democracy.
Featured speakers include:
  • Secretary of State Mark Ritchie (D-MN),
  • Radio Host Amy Goodman,
  • The Nation Columnist John Nichols,
  • Author Walter Mosley,
  • Former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic,
  • Former Presidential candidate David Cobb (G-CA),
  • And other leaders in the national democracy movement.
Please inquire about opportunities to schedule interviews with any speakers during the conference.

FairVote MN Executive Director Jeanne Massey said, “Now more than ever we need to be fully and deeply engaged in a discussion around the future of our Democracy. For eight years we have watched our democratic institutions attacked and weakened, but, here in Minnesota with passage of instant runoff voting in Minneapolis in 2006 and the St. Paul IRV campaign in 2008, we are committed to expanding democracy. It is right that the first Democracy Day conference is held here.”

The conference is a continuation of the work of the Claim Democracy Coalition, which is a national coalition spearheaded by FairVote which held the Claim Democracy Conference in November 2007 in Washington, DC.