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Convention Builds Relationships, Momentum for Coffee Party

(LOUISVILLE, KY) Sept. 28, 2010 — Participants in the first Coffee Party Convention arrived home to 40 different states on Sunday and Monday, energized and determined to pursue electoral and legislative goals outlined during the three-day event. 

Meredith Diamond drove six hours from Oberlin College with classmate Xenna Goh, and was struck by the agreement she witnessed across party lines.  “It made me see a real hope for the sort of engagement the Coffee Party is pushing for, something I hadn’t thought possible until this weekend.”

Coffee Party members take group photo following "World Cafe" discussion session. (photo by Dan Damman)

Nearly 350 participants unified behind immediate actions and long-term commitments, such as supporting the Fair Elections Now legislation currently before the U.S. House and organizing for Coffee Vote, a voter engagement initiative that includes crafting voter guides.  The Coffee Party also decided to send representatives to the “March to Restore Sanity” on October 30th, presenting the set piece of the convention — a gigantic Preamble to the Constitution commissioned by convention speaker Bill Moyer, and signed by this weekend’s conventioneers.

 

Many said they were drawn by Saturday’s day-long “Mock” Constitutional Convention co-chaired by Lawrence Lessig and Mark McKinnon.

 

McKinnon set the tone Friday with his keynote address.  “Businesses and industries should have a voice, but it shouldn’t be a voice bigger than the people who are voting,” he said.  “…This should have been one of the lessons learned from the meltdown in 2008.  The country is NOT too big to fail.  Our political and economic systems are fatally intertwined.  The powers of public government and private corporations have been fused.”

 

Lessig followed with a call for a Constitutional Convention under Article 5 to address what he called “the sick economy of influence that is Washington.”

 

“We need to identify and debate with civility — an idea at the core of the Coffee Party movement — how to make democracy work,” Lessig said.  “And as more and more begin to see the product of movements and events like this, maybe these “mock” [Constitutional] Conventions can become something real, because a real Convention is what our Framers intended when the insiders lose touch with the American people.”

 

In her closing remarks, Coffee Party founder Park spoke of the convention as the “birth” of the Coffee Party movement, pointing out that today (Sept. 26) was exactly nine months since the movement’s digital conception on Jan. 26.  

 

“I’ve been spending the last 9 months in dialogue with 300,000 people because the vision had to come together,” she said.  “…You can apply the Coffee Party methodology to any question, any issue: We need to infuse the discussion with information. We need to come together as a community.  Right now, the process IS the biggest issue, this is why Fair Elections was such a big part of this convention.”

 

The most memorable speech at the convention came from Lt. Dan Choi.  In his first public remarks since last week’s filibuster of a Defense Authorization Bill that included a conditional repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Choi spoke of love, equality, and determination, bringing listeners to tears. 

 

“Love is non-partisan,” Choi said.  “Love does not belong to any specific group.  And the equality of love is also non-partisan.  … Equality is non-partisan because the priority of our rights and our liberties, as if freedom is some kind of finite resource, is most anti-American.”

Watch VIDEO report by The Louisville Courier-Journal. 

For those not able to attend, a selection of the events and panel discussions are available on line in raw form on the Coffee Party UStream channel, and soon, in videos uploaded to the Coffee Party YouTube channel and LiveStream channel.

 

Read article in Louisville Courier-Journal: Coffee Party Urges Voters to Get Involved

 

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