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The Coffee Party Is All Grown Up

Join Coffee Party President Debilyn Molineaux, with special guest Joan Blades, for a special anniversary edition of Coffee Party Radio.

debilyn.jpgWe are rapidly approaching the fifth anniversary of the founding of Coffee Party USA. Thank you for your participation, and for your work, in helping to grow our movement. Just this week Coffee Party, along with our partner organizations, helped gather over 5 million signatures on a petition calling for a constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United. 

On Monday, January 26 at 8:30pm EST, join Coffee Party President Debilyn Molineaux for a special edition of Coffee Party Radio. Her guest will be Joan Blades, co founder of MoveOn.org, MomsRising and Living Room Conversations. Together, Molineaux and Blades will help celebrate Coffee Party’s five years of inciting civility and reason into our political arena.

Click here to listen to Coffee Party Radio

As a part of our honoring our successes, we will also be looking forward to our next steps in making a
difference by discussing Ralph Nader’s recent book Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State. We will be hearing from Nader, via a recorded interview about his book, and discussing ideas forJoanBlades-outlined.png how Coffee Party USA and its members can bring greater cooperation to our political forum. Calls from listeners will be taken and we will be reviewing comments left on our website at http://www.coffeepartyusa.com/unstoppable_comments.

The Coffee Party Book Club is just one monthly event being revived by Coffee Party USA. Moving forward we will also be presenting movie nights. It is our hope that these small actions will help you, The Coffee Party member or supporter, to feel more connected to our movement and, perhaps, engage other members of your community to participate in book club discussions as well as movie viewing parties (popcorn not included).

Thank you again for all of your support and we hope you will join us on Monday, January 26 at 8:30pm EST for this special edition of Coffee Party Radio!

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Coffee Party January Actions. Are You Ready to Engage?

From Rallying in DC, to relaunching our Book Club, to Petitioning for the Reversal of Citizens United.  It's a busy anniversary month for Coffee Party USA.

This month’s Coffee Party Book Club selection is Ralph Nader’s Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.   The author makes the claim that we are at one of the most pivotal moments in our country’s political history.  Americans are more disillusioned with their political leaders than ever before and large majorities of citizens tell pollsters that big corporations have too much political power. The ever-tightening influence of big business on the mainstream media, elections and our local, state, and federal governments, have caused many Americans to believe they have no political voice.

In reading through the book, the author discusses twenty five reforms to our current system of governance that would directly address the disillusionment, and in some cases down-right apathy that a lot of American’s feel towards our political process.

Click here to view the original article, from Ralph Nader's website, listing the 25 reforms.

What say you on these reforms?  Are these reforms Coffee Party USA can get behind?  We would love to hear your thoughts.  Click here to to be redirected to a signup form that will allow you to leave us your comments.  Your comments may be included during a special Coffee Party 5th anniversary radio program, on January 26th at 8:30pm EST where we will be broadcasting an interview with Ralph Nader and reflecting on the past five years of Coffee Party and marching forward into the next five years together. As a movement, an organization, and a community.

If you would like to participate in The Coffee Party Book Club, then we invite you to click here and purchase Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.  Coffee Party will receive a small portion of your purchase.

2015CURally.jpgYou are also invited to join Coffee Party USA at Lafayette Park in Washington D.C. on January 21st at noon (EST)  as we rally on the 5th anniversary of the Citizens United decision.  Click here for more information and to RSVP.

You may recall that Coffee Party was at the front and center in actions surrounding the first anniversary of this disastrous Supreme Court ruling.  Coffee Party is pleased to be collaborating with many like minded organizations in support of this rally.  Together we will achieve this monumental goal.  But it won’t happen overnight.  

We need your support and we need it sooner than later.  The more attention we bring to the damaging influence of money in politics, which Citizens United has made even worse, the more effective we become.  More effective, not just as a group of people with a collective goal, but as a movement of many.  And the voice of the many will always be louder than the greed and power of a few.

Coffee Party would also like to remind you, if you haven’t already, to add your signature to our petition calling for a constitutional amendment to address Citizens United.  We have set a goal of 5,000 signatures and will be delivering the petition personally on the day of the rally.

 

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They have money but we are many

It is no accident that the Coffee Party was born January 26th, just five days after the Citizens United decision. Since 2010 we find dark money - personal and corporate funds laundered through non profits - has become the leading source of money-in-politics. The US Chamber of Commerce is the biggest of them all, spending over $31 Million in the mid-term election alone.

We live in a time when a powerful few, using money as speech and hiding behind corporations as people, are influencing our elected and our judiciary to support a financial agenda in pursuit of unlimited wealth for the few. They leave a wake of social and economic injustice that, with our without intent, cripples our nation as it tears her People apart, and threatens our very existence with indifference to consequences of their actions.

YOU can join Coffee Party and many others for a rally on January 21. This coalition includes: American Family Values; Center for Media and Democracy; Coffee Party USA; Communications Workers of America; Courage Campaign; Daily KOS; Endangered Species Coalition; Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (Advocacy); Food and Water Watch; Franciscan Action Network; Free Speech for People; Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy; Jobs with Justice; NJ for the Overturn of Citizens United Coalition; PCCC; PDA; Sierra Club; Stamp Stampede; US PRIG; 350.org; and MORE every day!

RSVP for the Rally on January 21 at the Chamber of Commerce

 Standing up for The People is a job from which we cannot be laid-off or fired. It is, however, a job we can quit. I will never quit. The fate of this republic’s democracy is in my hands as it is in yours. If you have quit, tear up your resignation. If you have not quit, take heart. WE see the truth hidden by the smoke and mirrors of mindless media and disguised by overly clever use of the language of the law. WE are the spark that continues to light the fire that will create “liberty and justice for ALL”.

Whether you join us in our nation’s capital, or shed LIGHT on DARK money closer to home, thanks for you all you do. You can start now by signing the Petition for a Constitutional Amendment!

 

If you want to engage further, we invite you to join The Coffee Party Book Club.  The first in a series of monthly events designed to engage The Coffee Party Community.  Our first selection is Unstoppable: The Emerging Left Right Alliance To Dismantle The Corporate State by Ralph Nader.  Click here to learn more and to order the book.

 

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Announcing Coffee Party Monthly Events Starting in January

Relaunch of The Coffee Party Book Club with "Unstoppable - The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle The Corporate State" by Ralph Nader

Are you ready to incite civility and reason back into our political arena?  Are you ready to assist in our country transcending its current partisan political stalemate? Are you ready to help dismantle the corporate control of our government and return it to “the people?"

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you will want to participate in the Coffee Party USA’s new series of monthly events, starting in January, that are designed to both foster and promote outreach and engagement in communities and homes all across the country.

The kick off event, a relaunch of The Coffee Party Book Club, will be Monday, January 26, 2015 at 8:30pm (EST).  We will host a special Coffee Party radio program, to both commemorate Coffee Party USA's fifth anniversary, and also dissect Ralph Nader’s new book Unstoppable - The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.   The goal will be to bring forth from Nader’s excellent book specific action steps we can all take to create the government we want!

But you can get involved now!  And here’s how….

First, pick up a copy of Nader’s book!  You can purchase a copy through Amazon and a small portion of the proceeds will assist our organization.  You can purchase the book by clicking the link below (or click the picture of the book to the right).

Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State

Second, let us know you are participating!  Click here to sign up for our contact list for Coffee Party Outreach and Engagement.  We promise not to "spam" you and you will be the first in the loop as new updates and news from Coffee Party Outreach and Engagement, including Book Club activities, are announced.

Third, read the book and submit your ideas and questions to us. Send your thoughts by email to comments@coffeepartyusa.com.  Submissions received by January 20 could be used on the program!

Fourth, sign our upcoming petition to support a an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would limit campaign spending and establish that corporations are not people! Details coming soon!

Fifth, provide your thoughts on campaign finance reform.  For the first time in more than a decade, the Federal Election Commission is accepting wide-ranging public comment on issues fundamental to campaign finance — including disclosure and corruption in the political process.  Submit your ideas before January 15, 2015, at http://sers.fec.gov/forces/addcomments.htm?pid=93617

Finally, don’t forget to listen to the program on January 26!  The program will also be available online after the show. To listen live or access the archive go to http://www.blogtalkradio.com/coffeepartyusa

Watch for other upcoming announcements about this event and future events from the Coffee Party USA. Sign up here to be the first to know.  Together, we can make a difference!

 

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Absence of Justice

heal_the_heart.jpgThere is an absence of justice in our country.  It is keenly felt in African American, Latino and other communities, where racial profiling has resulted in higher arrest rates, convictions and longer sentencing than caucasian offenders. We have criminalized mental illness and substance abuse; our largest treatment centers are the jails and prisons.  After arrest, many people are retained without bail to await trial and chances for rehabilitation diminish as the “institution-mentality” takes root.  While incarcerated, men and women are treated like animals and bullying is a survival strategy. This is the setting in which the lack of indictment in the shooting death of Michael Brown and choking death of Eric Garner occurred.  

Michael Brown was not a poster child for the cause of criminal justice reform; Eric Garner was dragged to the ground for allegedly selling cigarettes.  These deaths has brought to the forefront the absurd inequality of our culture and the absence of justice in a system that claims to be the best in the world. And what we see via mainstream media cannot begin to convey the rage of generational injustice that our neighbors have endured.  And make no mistake. This RAGE will not go unanswered.

Millions of people are standing up and saying ENOUGH.  We will not be bullied into submission nor condescended to as children. We are equals. The  police and government are public servants of our collective needs. It is our responsibility to convey our needs, interact and build relationships that are healthy and dignified. The peaceful protesters are speaking for many about the need for true equality before the law.

We stand in solidarity for justice.

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Citizen Engagement with Coffee Party USA

My name is Billy Sears and I am the newest member of The Coffee Party USA Board of Directors.  I am tasked with Local Organizing and Support.

Some of you may recognize my name.  I have a long history with Coffee Party USA, dating back to our roots in 2010.  I saw the beginnings of Coffee Party as a YouTube video that went massively viral, a wildly popular facebook page just getting off the ground, and I also participated in one of over 400 Coffee Party groups that met in a single weekend in 2010.

I went on to be a leader with my local Coffee Party community in Champaign, IL as well as a leader within the national Coffee Party community as our first ever staff member as Director of Membership.

I have been through many incarnations of Coffee Party.  I have seen, and been a part of, our many successes.  I have also been a part of our learning opportunities.  Throughout everything that we have been through as a community in the past, our founding principles remain the same:

  • We do not feel represented by our government or the officials that we have elected to be our collective voice in the democratic process.

  • We must participate in the democratic process, in a responsible way, and work to hold our elected representatives accountable for obstruction of progress.

  • The continuing influence of money in politics, particularly the Citizens United ruling, is damaging in a way the framers of this republic’s democracy never could have imagined.

As we get closer and closer to the five year anniversary of Coffee Party, I would like to invite you to engage, or re-engage, in Coffee Party USA.  We are a grassroots democracy movement, working to connect communities in an ongoing effort to reclaim our government.  You are one of the most important assets in The Coffee Party arsenal.

I would like to extend you a personal invitation to join me on a teleconference to discuss various ways to organize  with Coffee Party USA in your community.  This call will be held on Sunday, September 14, at 3pm CT/1pm PT. Click here to register

This will be the first of what will become a monthly call.  It will serve as an opportunity for new, and seasoned, Coffee Party organizers to come together to discuss best practices, progress in their communities, challenges to overcome, as well as create and build community within the Coffee Party organizing family.

We will also discuss opportunities to volunteer for the national Local Support Team.  This team will be tasked with drafting grassroots campaigns for local Coffee Party groups, assisting local organizers in identifying opportunities in their communities, as well as helping to support and build leaders all over the country.

I cannot stress enough that organizing within Coffee Party USA is a partnership.  Be prepared to bring your creativity and ideas to the table.  Everyone has a voice and the only bad idea is the one that doesn't make it to the table.

This local organizing call will be held on Sunday, September 14, at 3pm CT/1pm PT.  You may register by clicking here.

If you have any questions prior to the call, or would like to discuss specific local organizing or volunteer opportunities, please do not hesitate to contact me at billy@coffeepartyusa.com

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Press Release from the Vetting Committee - June 6th, 2014

We know there have been a lot of questions regarding the Vetting Committee. While this process is done in a closed environment to protect the applicants and the process, there are some things we can tell you:

  1. We are currently in the process of checking the minimum requirements of the candidates (membership, background checks, and so forth.)

  2. There are six people on the Vetting Committee - some from the current leadership, some from the membership.

  3. We will begin  conducting the interviews of qualified candidates between June 13  and June 23.  Interviews will be conducted by either 2 or 3 members of the vetting committee.  Efforts will be made to be diverse (members v leadership) in these interviews as scheduling allows.

  4. Candidates are urged to refrain from campaigning until the ballot is announced on June 23. 

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Empowering Ourselves in the Coffee Party Movement

It has been great to see the passion with which people have jumped in to “save” the Coffee Party, when in fact, no rescue is necessary.  

We are moving from an old model to a new model in our human and political affairs -- from one in which we are at effect (disempowered) to another at which we are at cause (empowered). One is largely negative which leads many to feel our cause is doomed, to one that is affirmative and believes in the best of humanity and offers hope.

Our world today — the old model --  is ripe with victims, persecutors and heroes (aka rescuers) which many believe is the meaning of our daily lives.  This type of thinking, from inside the drama triangle, focuses on what we don’t want, who’s to blame, how bad we feel, and we tend to give our power away to and eulogize those who we call saviors. This is a default setting for most of the world.

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.

- Leo Tolstoy

Another way to provide meaning to our lives and the world has been emerging.  In this healthier world view, we focus on what we want...our vision.  When we focus on what we want, we engage our passion and identify next steps to take, hopefully together.

But what if what I want is to be right / win / dominate? (This attitude has been around for millennia.) Being right, wanting to win and dominating others is a strategy of the drama triangle most commonly used by persecutors or even those who are seen to be well-respected leaders — heads of corporations, politicians, etc... We can instead choose to assist others with the intention of helping them be better versions of themselves.  Not become more like us.

What if someone has taken advantage of or even hurt me?  Victimization does happen.  When the role of victim becomes an identity, one is living in the drama triangle. People who live with victim-mentality are never responsible for what is happening to them...they are quick to point out who’s to blame and are experts in the blame game. Instead, we can choose to accept our responsibility and decide what we want...engaging our vision and passion.

What if I see that a terrible mistake is about to be made or an injustice about to be perpetrated or there are very real injustices? Shouldn’t I warn someone? What should I do? This rescuer tendency to always “know what’s best for others” is actually a fear that the rescuer won’t be needed, so it is common to be around victims as a way to find meaning.  The arrogance of the rescuer also brings a sense of isolation, since no one else knows what's right. We can choose to ask questions of others instead of offering advice. If we admit we don't know everything, then the contribution of others becomes valued, lifting us all out of the drama triangle.

What, you ask, does this have to do with politics today?

When politicians, journalists, nonprofit organizations, businesses and others live in the drama triangle, everyone begins to be viewed as holding one of the three roles; victim, rescuer or persecutor.  Usually somebody is seen to be right and someone else is wrong. The media seems to exist to keep score. When substantive differences surface, instead of focusing on what we want to move forward and how might we work together, a blame game starts.  Eventually, people are disenchanted and all but the fiercest warriors fade away.

Keeping in mind that we cannot change anyone but ourselves, what is our personal responsibility?  How do we step away from the drama, our current political predicament, and start focusing on what we want?

What is your vision?

Sources:

 

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Coffee Party Statement from the Board of Directors - May 23rd, 2014

The Coffee Party USA Board of Directors appreciates the interest of members and followers in a situation that has taken an uncomfortable turn. Unfortunately, as our meeting minutes were not up to date, it was difficult for members and followers to know how this turn of events transpired.

We are working diligently to correct the situation. Minutes of board meetings have been posted through December 2013. The balance are being prepared post haste. Our goal is that they be made available online as they are completed and approved no later than June 7, 2014.  

It was because of failures in leadership like the lack of minutes as well as other elements of our promised transparency that we were pursuing better qualified people for the job.

Coffee Party Founders, Annabel Park and Eric Byler, have been the visionary leaders of the Coffee Party USA since our inception in 2010.  Ms. Park transitioned away from Coffee Party in 2011 to pursue other interests.  Mr. Byler ran for and was elected President of the Board of Directors.  Both were offered positions of Founding Directors on the Board in perpetuity, freeing them to be visionaries and not corporate officers.  They declined.  This April, Mr. Byler voted in favor of his own removal as President.  He resigned shortly thereafter with a motion on the floor that he be removed from the Board for cause.

The Board of Directors sees Mr. Byler’s resignation as an opportunity for effective leadership.  We have redoubled our efforts to fill board vacancies and conduct elections on schedule.  We are rebuilding our volunteer teams.  We are pursuing collaborations with other aligned organizations, and planning a few of our own.

But our biggest challenge is overcoming the Founders’ attempt to discredit and undermine the remaining directors using members, supporters and followers as tools in their “rescue” strategy, just like they did to the interim board in 2011.  http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0311/The_Coffee_Party_and_its_discontents.html

For example, Mr. Byler stated in his resignation his opposition to a new fundraising program, even though he seconded the motion that was unanimously approved by the Board in 2013.  The Board voted to table this fundraising option on May 6, 2014 after Mr. Byler reported that the Coffee Party database had been handed over to a third party and that support for the project was motivated by personal gain, statements which the Board considered and rejected.  The program was never tested or launched, although considerable time was spent in program planning and design.

Another allegation in Mr. Byler’s resignation was that one of the directors has a conflict of interest with our prospective fundraising organization.  One director did declare a conflict of interest and Board members, following the process outlined in both the bylaws and a policy document drafted by the Board Development Work Group years before, concluded the conflict to be materially insignificant.  From the policy: “A financial interest is not necessarily a conflict of interest.”

There may be more unanswered questions, but the point here is that there has been no room for conversation, only accusation and denigration of differing points of view.  This is unacceptable to us.

In the end, we choose to believe that this is a series of misunderstandings gone sideways.  We appeal to members for patience and objectivity as differences are sorted out.  It is our position that:

  • We were elected to do a job.  We are going to keep doing it.
  • Coffee Party USA will be best served by holding the scheduled election for five replacement and three newly created board positions.
  • Recordings of board meetings are the private property of Coffee Party USA, were never intended to be made public, and could harm Coffee Party USA and persons not on the Board if released to the public.
  • Release of Board meeting recordings is improper and a misuse of confidential Coffee Party information.

The current Board wishes to acknowledge their appreciation to Ms. Parks and Mr. Byler for their vision of people sitting down over coffee and talking politics in a civil way.  We hope and trust that our actions now will serve as a model for this type of discourse.

It is our intent to carry that vision into the future with Coffee Party USA.  If you agree, please consider running for election as a member of the Board of Directors.  

Coffee Party USA

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Sometimes a Cup of Coffee is Just a Cup of Coffee

  

Coffee Party USA is one of many affinity groups that emerged from the political cauldron we call 2010. I’m finding 2014 fraught with comparisons between our movement and others forged at that time. In my mind, we are self defined, so I offer these words to counter any linguistic sleight of hand that would have you “know us” by comparing us to others.

Our name implies that if Americans sat down and had a cup of coffee in a cafe or at a living room coffee table, we would find a spark of common ground. High praise for The People? No, just our experience.

COFFEE PARTY  

“Incite Civility and Reason”

Finding how we are alike (rather than how we are different) requires the generosity of spirit to listen and speak with respect - be civil. The other essential piece is data - good data - so our ability to reason has a chance to emerge from the chaos of emotions that define politics these days.

The trend to emotionalize political conversation may have morphed since 2010, but it has not stopped. Our membership, as well as many supporters and followers, have looked at why this is possible. That search led us to “the cycle of corruption”. More than anything, Americans want justice, equity, and fairness. The cycle of political corruption is not fair.

 

Rather than believe government is inherently bad, we believe government is broken. Again, our membership, followers and supporters came up with focus issues to repair this republic’s democracy. Everything we do ties back to these three issues.

Campaign Finance Reform

Tax Code Reform

Wall Street Reform

Today, we collectively see the first, Campaign Finance Reform, getting money out of politics, as job one. This drives us to seek and vet the massive amounts of information and misinformation available today. This drives us to the cafes and living rooms, to social media and blogs like this one, to have a cup of coffee and talk about what we have found.

This is Coffee Party. Whether we appear in agreement with or in opposition to some other group is in the mind of the beholder, and irrelevant to who we are in the world.

CoffeePartyON!
Jeanene Louden, Managing Director

 

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Coffee Party USA
Connecting communities to reclaim our Government for the people.

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