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Man at Work.
As a second-timer to NN'13, I arrived with a sense of belonging. It felt sort of good to know the process and it made it much easier to just jump right in. I didn't hesitate to fill my day with a panel or a training for every session. Granted, I'm beat. My brain is saturated with the old and the new - old friends, new friends, old ideas that I'd forgot I knew and new ideas that have my brain churning in exciting directions.

I've taken away a couple of overarching themes already.

Many times today I have heard activists of a certain age talk about the need to pass the torch... the problem is that their certain age isn't all that old. In fact, a couple of them have been a year or two younger than I am. I don't consider myself that old though I am not a millennial. And I don't get it. I do get that we need to include people of all ages in all we have to do. And I do understand that the younger generation will infuse the movement with new ideas and new methods and that we very much want that. But I don't get the passing of the torch. Not yet. I just found my political voice a few short years ago. I feel like I'm just getting started. Some of these people may have worked politics for many, many years. I guess I'm a late bloomer. But we need them and we need them more than ever. So I'm begging activists that may be what they consider a certain age to reconsider how they talk about the movement and their place within it. No more talk about passing the torch and much more talk about working in partnership.

More below the fold...

I've also noticed a split. We have people going to trainings to figure out the 'me' stuff. How can I promote my blog? How can I better use twitter? How can I write a good meme? How can I be the next great political pundit and blogger? And we have people that want to pull us all together... or at least pull us together for the cause that they want supported. I guess we don't have a movement like MoveOn for women's issues and we need one. I guess we don't have a modern anti-nuke movement and we need one. And this split has me a little confused. Because I thought it was our work as individuals that made us strong a group. I'm not sure we need a single unifying structure. In fact, I think we may be stronger with our multiple voices resonating from different corners of the virtual world as well as different cities, towns, and communities in the real world. It's great that we have MoveOn and that we have OFA and that we have DFA, etc. etc. etc. But I think we have to stop looking towards the big overarching solution and we need to pull together when necessary and pull apart when the need goes away. That's why MoveOn can be there for a woman's issue and then turn around and look a different direction for an issue on immigration or on national security. We don't need the big groups to specialize - we need them to help us focus at the most important times. After all, as much as I want to focus on all the issues all the time, I can't.

So where have I found these themes? My schedule yesterday was pretty packed. I started with the Morning News Dump. I was introduced to Rep. Honda. If you've never heard of him, you need to give him some serious attention. He is a true progressive serving in Congress and he's facing a primary challenger from the right... in California. We can't afford to lose him. I love it when he said:

I was trained to listen to young people.

I think that training in education has prepared him very well for the job he is doing now. It doesn't hurt that he has a wicked sense of humor. Check him out at Act Blue.

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Rep. Honda at the Morning News Dump
Next, The Year of the Woman: Moving Forward for Feminism! I thoroughly enjoyed listening to very intelligent women talk about the future of feminism. I especially enjoyed Gayle Karen Young of Wikimedia... we need more women editing on Wikipedia folks! Start by joining me to fix the page on feminism!

My take away from this group really is simple. It comes down to framing. There was a lot of conversation about how women, especially young women, view the word feminism and shy away from it's use. They're almost radical in their disavowal of being feminists while embracing feminist ideology. Honestly, we could have had a panel discussion on that alone.

Another big take away has to do with money. Women are less likely to make donations; when they do make them they tend to be smaller than those made by men;  our relationship with money is fraught with issues. This to could be a stand alone panel discussion. Maybe a diary in the future? An organization to look into would be SPARK.

After this panel, I headed to a more sedate but equally important panel on Between Intervention and Isolationism: Finding the Future of Progressive Foreign Policy. I heard some good conversation but we never walked away with a sense of what a progressive foreign policy could or should look like. This is a consistent problem with progressive conversation. We're happy to leave things open and fluid but at the end of the day, we need a frame, a message, or a meme or two. So I give this a thumbs up for discussing important issues of the day but a thumbs down for walking out with a message that I can easily share.

The afternoon I spent at the Native Vote: Why Winning Indian Country Matters to You. This will go down as one of the better panels I have been too. It was well planned with slides to help us focus on the main take away points. Two excellent panelists, our own Meteor Blades and Peggy Flanagan, spoke intelligently about the issues while Prairie Rose Seminole kept the panel moving in a forward direction. Big take aways from this panel - the Indian vote not only matters, it's often the final push that wins a candidate the election; candidates need to work with native communities before, during and after  the campaign... showing up just for votes doesn't work. I saw ties with my own areas of interest that I hope to write about it in the future - similarities with the military community, issues of education - especially the need for progressive education, and native rights in the Americas (after all, I am about to return to South America!).

I decided to end the day with a training by the Truman Foundation: Five Secrets: Proven Neuroscience Behind Persuading Voters. It was great even if I already knew a lot of the information. A lot of progressives would benefit from learning more on the art of persuasion... it is easier than you think. They spoke about emotional connection, values connections, and how body language is more important than the words we actually speak. You can say the most beautiful things but if you're looking at your watch or clenching your hands together or speaking a mile a minute, your message is completely lost. But why are we still talking about this at a progressive political conference? Shouldn't we be convinced? Obviously not. We need to work on this as a community. They would love us to practice on Uncle Charlie... change those family arguments into family conversations by finding the common ground, our values, and work from there.

Phew. I'm wore out just writing this and I am only scratching the surface. What did you do yesterday? Watch any of this online? Attend any events yourself? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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The Purple Mountain Institute Booth with drnatrl.
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