Howard Dean, Al Frankin, David Sirota, Robert Greenwald, Maxine Waters, Jim Derych, Paul Hacket, Christine Cegelis.
Grassroots Leadership Summit, Activist Training, CivicSpace.
Atomic Bowling, Beach Party.
That's the short list of reasons you should attend Democracy Fest 2006 in beautiful Sand Diego, July 14-16.
But there's another reason you should attend, and it doesn't lend itself to being described in a short ad. In fact, it's something you must experience to understand.
I have a secret. I'm actually a very shy person. Meeting people is not easy for me, not that I'm anti-social. I'm just...shy, an introvert. It takes a lot of energy out of me. So last year flying into Austin, Texas, for DemFest '05, I had quite a bit of anxiety. This was one of the first political events I would ever attended with the intention to really participate and network. And if that weren't enough pressure, I was there on a mission, to find allies who could help us build YearlyKos.
I must have looked terribly lost (I sure felt it) because a perfect stranger walked up to me...with a beer :) Nathan Gonzalez with Latinos for America would become my new best friend at DemFest , quick with the beverages and generous with the introductions to people who could help me. The first of those introductions was with Kety Esquivel, also of LFA.
I went to DemFest knowing that I had a lot of work to do and a lot of things to learn. For example, I had only lived in Northern California for 9 months. I'm from Memphis, and the Latino population was just starting to boom there. I had not really acquainted myself with Latino issues, so I asked Nathan and Kety for patience with my inexperience, and if they could, to please tell me about Latino issues.
"Its very simple," said Nathan, "Latino issues are about the American Dream."
In my most limited experience, politics had seemed like a bunch of different interests and causes, each with its own set of needs and issues. But it's really simpler than that. We all care about healthcare, we all care about education, we all care about security, good jobs, being able to buy a home. We all love America and we all want to have a piece of the American Dream. From my conversation with Nathan and Kety, I was reminded that this fight for America is about us-all of us. It's so easy to get caught up in issue and identity politics that we can forget that the bottom line is that we want the same kinds of things. Our values, opportunity, fairness, working towards a better world for our children, tie us together in ways that the labels we are stuck with can't.
Later Nathan would introduce me to Jim Dean, Tom Hughes, and others (and a few more beers). Kety, who also works with Cross Left would introduce me to Andrew Hoppin of CivicSpace, and Kirstin Falk and Deb Schnieder of New Progressive Coalition. Andrew later introduced me to Lynn and Liza who originally built and hosted our new website, Adam and Aaron of Advomatic who would make it traffic ready for the convention, and Michael Haggerty of Trellon who would handle all of our network needs at the convention.
All these people played important roles in helping to make the YearlyKos Convention possible. But I would have never met them if I hadn't gone to DemFest.
So, bring yourself, and your ideas to Democracy Fest 2006 July 14-16 in San Diego. You will find people just like you who care and who want to make a difference. And if you see someone who looks lost, buy them a beer, strike up a conversation, and go where it leads.
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