Marianne Castiglia, Newsroom Workgroup Chairperson
Meet this month’s featured volunteer - Marianne Castiglia, who leads the Newsroom Workgroup for the Coffee Party. A native of Albany, NY (where her family lives), Marianne currently resides in the Tampa, FL area where she pet sits when she is not working on Coffee Party activities. She takes care of cats, dogs, birds, and even cared for a full blooded-bobcat for years until a frightening encounter with the cat led her to drop that client.
An active volunteer since late 2012, Marianne’s journey began when she was driving around for her pet sitting business, listening exclusively to right-wing radio programs and watching Fox news at home. Slowly she began “smelling a rat”, so she started searching for alternatives and found podcasts from the Coffee Party Radio Shows through the website called Blog Talk Radio. Marianne became a regular listener, using her phone to listen to the podcasts in her car. She liked that the content was fact based as opposed to being told what to think. Marianne also appreciated that viewpoints from both sides of the aisle were presented and that discussion of the issues was encouraged.
Because the Newsroom Workgroup oversees the radio shows, that steered Marianne to volunteering with that workgroup. Marianne started calling into the Newsroom Workgroup conference calls. For the first year, she just listened and wouldn’t speak at all on the calls. Little by little, she began talking on the calls and then submitting articles for the Coffee Party FaceBook page. With Egberto Willies’ mentoring and encouragement, Marianne began to gain confidence and try new things: she was invited to become a FaceBook page editor and administer some of the other social media platforms like Twitter and Google Plus. After a while, Egberto asked her to become the Work Group Chair of the Newsroom, which is what she does now.
Marianne’s favorite project of the past year involved collaborating with another workgroup in the Coffee Party to orchestrate a Twitter Storm. Using the hashtag #FairPoliceFines, they drew awareness to the problems surrounding the inequities in police fines which mostly affected the poor. The compounding of fines would lead to a $50 ticket becoming a $500 ticket, and the person would end up in jail because of their inability to pay the original $50 ticket. With research into the topic and the efforts of both work groups, they were able to get the hashtag to trend on Twitter.
When Marianne talks to someone new about the Coffee Party, she emphasizes that it is a trans-partisan group helping to educate people about issues and bringing people together in civil-minded, fact-based discussions. She encourages other people to volunteer by emphasizing the wonderful people you work with and get to know, and that it is a great learning process, both personally and ideologically.
Jeanene Louden, Coffee Party USA Director & Treasurer
The Coffee Party website includes our Mission and Vision Statements
MISSION: Connecting communities to reclaim our government for the people.
VISION: Coffee Party USA envisions a nation of diverse communities sharing a culture of informed public engagement where our sacred right to vote is the only currency of our representative democracy.
In service to our mission and vision, it has become a Coffee Party tradition to promote activism at any and all levels. We pride ourselves in providing a safe space to learn the tools of activism. Many of our members to on to be effective participants in actions and candidate campaigns, and some even running for office themselves.
With this tradition in mind, I have to share two events planned for April 2016 that will give many of us many opportunities to participate on many levels: Democracy Spring and Democracy Awakening 2016. I love that these well planned and strategic actions are back to back, making participation in both possible.
“The campaign will begin on April 2nd with a march from the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. where thousands will gather to reclaim the US Capitol in a powerful, peaceful, and massive sit-in that no one can ignore. Over 1,500 people have already pledged to risk arrest between April 11th-16th in what will be one of the largest civil disobedience actions in a generation. Together we can open the door to reforms previously considered impossible and reclaim our democracy. Join us!
“Coming together to awaken a democracy that is accessible to all and is not beholden to big money interests. Join us April 16-18 as we demand a democracy in which voting rights are protected and the integrity of the vote is not undermined by big money.’
Coffee Party will be sharing more about these two upcoming events on Facebook, Twitter, blogtalk radio and future newsletters. I hope to see you there!
Mark Gilbert, Campaigns and Actions Workgroup Chair
It's a new year and a big election year...so things are heating up with our Campaigns and Actions Workgroup.
First off (as may be mentioned elsewhere in this newsletter), the Coffee Party USA is pleased to be a part of a coalition of over 80 organizations called Democracy Spring. This group will be marching on Washington DC this April requesting that Congress take immediate action to end the corruption of big money in politics and ensure free & fair elections in which every American has an equal voice. For more information on this and to sign up to participate, go to http://www.democracyspring.org/
Coffee Party USA Community Groups
We know that many of you are interested in coming together under the Coffee Party USA banner in your local community to hold civil discussions on the issues that are important to you. Recently we have updated a host of resources on our website to help you do just that:
- To find out if there is a Coffee Party USA group already operating in your area, go to http://www.coffeepartyusa.com/local_community
- If you want to start your own group, find out how at http://www.coffeepartyusa.com/local_community_group_sign_up
- And...we recently posted a lot of new free resources to help your community group, including a a brochure about the Coffee Party USA, a poster for announcing meetings and more. To download these resources, go to http://www.coffeepartyusa.com/resources
Upcoming Book Club Announcement
We are recommending that all of our members check out Thom Hartmann's latest book, The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America--and What We Can Do to Stop It. In this fascinating volume, the progressive talk show host outlines the repeating cycle of our country's history which occurs roughly every four generations. It starts by our taking control of our country back from the "economic royalists" who had crashed our country for their personal gain. Then over time, we begin to "forget" what occurred previously and start allowing them to once again take control. Eventually these "banksters and oligarchs" once again plunge our nation back into economic chaos and social instability. According to Hartmann, we are due for the next "crash". His book is not only a critical wake-up call for all Americans but is a call to action. So pick up a copy of the book and read it. And in the upcoming weeks, watch for announcements of how we can all share our insights with others and deepen our understanding of what we can do to break the cycle. More to come....
Move to Amend's David Cobb dazzled students and the community alike on several Lone Star College System campuses in Harris County and Montgomery County Texas. David Cobb addressed students, faculty, staff, and members of the community about the rights of corporations versus the rights of individuals. He took a rather boring and antiseptic subject and brought it to life by illustrating its importance to our individual freedoms and to the unconstitutionality of corporate modus operandi.
David Cobb is Outreach Director of Move to Amend. He is one of the founding members of the Board of Directors and authors of the We the People Amendment. A San Leon, Texas native, a previously successful lawyer with his own practice, and current political activist, Cobb ran for attorney general of Texas in 2002 and U.S. President on the Green Party in 2004.
David is a lawyer and political activist. David has sued corporate polluters, lobbied elected officials, run for political office himself, and has been arrested for non-violent civil disobedience. He truly believes we must use ALL the tools in the toolbox to effect the systemic social change we so desperately need.
David Cobb barnstorms the entire country throughout the year empowering audiences to take back their inalienable rights and their constitutional rights, not with hope, but with collective action. Move to Amend has grown to over 402,000 activists throughout the entire nation. There have been more than 600 resolutions and ordinances passed throughout the nation demanding a constitutional amendment in some form of the other to codify that money is not speech and a corporation is not a person.
Get a cup of coffee or your favorite drink and watch Cobb's empowering presentation. More importantly, get engaged in the body politic. Start by learning about the We the People Amendment and then sign the Move to Amend petition to be a part of the movement.
David Cobb presenting at LoneStar College Kingwood Center for Civic Engagement
Michael Johnson is January’s Volunteer of the Month. Michael has been a volunteer for the Coffee Party for a little over a year and is a valuable member of the Strategy and Implementation Work Group. Strategy and Implementation is the work group that is responsible for developing proposals for Coffee Party’s current and future path.
As a resident of Pasadena, CA, Michael has a Masters in Business Administration (?) and works from home in political and social networking.
What Michael really likes about the Coffee Party is that we can have a diversity of views. Even if you don’t agree with someone, in the Coffee Party, we find out why we don’t agree and it creates a good dialogue and we learn from each other. Michael feels that in order to fit into other groups, you have to be so passionate that you shut down areas of critical thought. In the Coffee Party, if you don’t agree, it’s okay. You talk to each other and learn about different points of view and generate new ideas.
Michael enjoys the Strategy and Implementation group because we can create an effective vision for the Coffee Party.
Michael was instrumental early in 2015 when he helped to lead and shape our End State Goals that can now be seen on our website at www.coffeepartyusa.com/goals. He was inspired to help with the End State Goals when he spotted the need: we have to know where we are going in the next ten years. The Civility Pledge inspired him to come up with the idea for the End State Goals and present it to the Strategy Work Group. He loved getting it started and being a part of the process. There are common principles that go with civility and making the world a better place such as accepting diversity and inclusiveness and getting local areas excited about the political process.
His favorite part of working within a work group is being able to contribute as well as to brainstorm and hear other people’s ideas. His favorite project was definitely the End State Goals.
When not helping the CP, Michael likes working on his website and playing around with virtual reality. There’s some amazing new technology that is an exciting new world.
Jeanene Louden, Coffee Party USA Director & Treasurer
Welcome, 2016! The new calendar year marks mid way through the Coffee Party USA fiscal year. Now is a great time to check in with members and supporters about progress toward some of our goals.
Membership, Volunteers & Leadership
Ever since our transition to an all volunteer organization in FY 13/14, Coffee Party has been moving toward linking membership, volunteer experience and organizational leadership. The current Bylaws require three months of membership to vote in the annual elections, and six months as an active volunteer and member in order to run for office. The purpose of these requirements is to facilitate a Board of Directors made up of experienced member volunteers, more likely to know what they are getting into, therefore more likely to serve out their full term. Two of the goals intended to support this strategy are listed below.
Double the number of dues paying members in FY15/16
Grow to 100 active volunteers in FY15/16
Coffee Party is founded on the belief that “civility and reason” knows no political, geographical, gender, or religious bounds, we have set goals to help expand our reach across those arbitrary divides. We see ourselves as a “community of practice” - a place where we can help each each other develop the skill of civility and reason, knowing that with diversity comes the opportunity for disagreement. So, we have included goals to support our growth as a community. Some examples follow.
Expand the diversity of in our posts and broadcasts by expanding the newsroom and radio teams
12 new members to the newsroom team and four shows to the radio team
Find 10 additional original content bloggers and broadcasters
seven new bloggers as of 12/31/15
Expand outreach on FB to 1 million likes (diversity in numbers)
900K as of 1/09/16
Create a “moderating team” to support civility and reason in our posts and comments
Ready to launch in January 2016
We have other goals, of course: some very businessy and some very technical. But, Membership Volunteers & Leadership, and Diversity just seemed like New Year’s thing to share.
Hau’oli Makahiki Hou!
And, Coffee Party ON!
I am an idealist. I want our country to live up to it’s ideals. And I also find movies a wonderful expression of our ideals. Every winter, I watch two movies. It’s a Wonderful Life and Scrooge. Both are stories of transformation. Together, these stories are powerful reminders about motivations, duty, choices and impact. The protagonists are very different from each other.
George Bailey is a dutiful man who gives up his dream of world travel, college and honeymoon to support his father, the family business and the townspeople. Each choice was made in the moment, because “it was the right thing to do.” Yet Bailey feels trapped and adopts a martyr-like attitude for several decades.Read more
We want a diverse group of bloggers and writers to counter MSM dereliction
Egberto Willies Coffee Party Director, Newsroom
The country has been hit by two terrorist attacks in less than one week. Both incidents were effected by Americans, domestic terrorism. One seemed to be inspired by ISIS the other inspired by domestic ideology.
Many will try to exploit these events for political gain. Many politicians have resorted to irresponsible rhetoric that has placed many of our Muslim American brothers and sisters at risk. They are exploiting an irrational fear that is fanned by irresponsible politicians, a willfully incompetent media, and special interests who simply wait for destabilizing events for some ulterior motive. They corrupt our body politic on false pretenses.
At Coffee Party USA, we want to hear your voices. We want to hear voices of reason. We want to encourage bloggers, writers, and anyone who wants to ensure that the puppeteers that are currently misleading Americans are challenged.
Coffee Party USA’s reach is vast. We reach several million Americans every week. We welcome thoughtful pieces from our membership that will help push back at those who are attempting to marginalize our fellow citizens. Your rational thoughts are valuable beyond your immediate sphere of influence. You rational and valuable thoughts have a platform here to reach a larger audience, your fellow Americans.
We are ready for 2016
Mark Gilbert, Coffee Party Director of Campaigns and Actions
As 2015 comes to a close, it's important to reflect back upon just how much the Coffee Party's Campaigns and Actions Workgroup has accomplished this year. Have you participated in any of this past year's events?
Since January, we have held Book Club discussions on the following four books:
- Unstoppable - The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State by Ralph Nader
- Reclaiming Civility in the Public Square: 10 Rules That Work by Cassandra Dahnke & Tomas Spath
- If I Were President: Saving Main Street America by Randy Fricke
- Healing the Heart of Democracy by Parker Palmer
In addition, we interviewed all of the authors above (except Nader) on special online radio shows.
We helped support the premiere of a new movie, Education Inc., which looked at the expanding role of money in our schools. In addition, we interviewed filmmaker Brian Malone.
We held a special "Twitter storm" to discuss concerns over how some community civil fines are putting individuals in a type of "debtor's prison".
We sponsored a special online discussion using the "Living Room Conversations" process to discuss opinions in a civil and reasoned way about the Trans Pacific Partnership.
We encouraged Coffee Party members to view the Oprah series Belief and to join us in one of several online discussions about the interplay of politics and spirituality.
Yes, it has been an exciting and busy 2015, but next year looks to be even more so as we plan our upcoming actions for this 2016 election year. Look for campaigns next year which continue to focus on the goals of the Coffee Party and seek to get us all engaged in bringing civility and reason to our American political system.
If you would like to help out, the Campaigns and Actions workgroup is currently accepting new volunteers to plan our events for this upcoming year. Won't you join us? For more information, go to http://www.coffeepartyusa.com/volunteer2.
Director, Campaigns and Actions
YES! Membership is power
Jeanene Louden, Coffee Party USA Director & Treasurer
Thank you to all our new and renewing members! And thanks, as always to our continuing sustaining members. Our all- volunteer, grassroots movement operates solely on the generosity of people like you: no big money, no sugar daddy, no corporate sponsorship - just good people like yourself.
(If you have not received an email asking you to choose your new member thank you gift, email us at email@example.com!)
In the next few days all our members (new and old) will receive an email asking for your input on the issues surrounding the state of gun violence in America today. Are we interested in taking a position? If so, what would that position be? Are there organizations we should support or partner with on this issue? ETC!
Watch for an email titled: YOUR OPINION PLEASE from Coffee Party USA.
if you have not received your email to choose your thank you gift, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org