Kevin Watford Strategy and Implementation Work Group
We would like you to meet the Coffee Party Volunteer of the Month, Kevin Watford! Living in Chicago, Illinois, Kevin volunteers in the Strategy and Implementation Work Group, where his skill set from his career in software project management fits well with the needs of this work group.
Kevin works with the other members of the Strategy and Implementation Group to help define the direction of the Coffee Party: fleshing out the long term strategy and goals of the Coffee Party for recommendation to the Board of Directors, building a path for communication between different Work Groups, and assisting in designing process and implementation where needed. Kevin also helped the Strategy and Implementation Work Group to develop an “elevator pitch”: the short response that can be used by the board members and other volunteers to deliver a consistent response to inquiries regarding the strategy and objectives of the Coffee Party.
So far, Kevin’s favorite project has been helping to to develop the overall strategic goals and values of the Coffee Party, setting the foundation for everything else the Coffee Party does.
These written goals can help guide the Coffee Party to prioritize those projects that align closest with the mission of the Coffee Party. Kevin appreciates that the written strategy and goals can be used as a “litmus” test to make certain that the money and resources of the Coffee Party are used to the best advantage.
Kevin first heard about the Coffee Party around March of 2015, although at the time he was not looking to get involved with a political group. Soon he realized that he did not want to simply sit in an armchair and be just one more critic. As Kevin stated it, “our country needs people to put in the time and effort to help an organization make things better.” He began looking for an organization that didn’t promote a certain set of values but instead, promoted discussion among a wide range of viewpoints. Believing that disagreements are healthy, as long as those disagreements are discussed and a decision on the issue ultimately emerges from the discussion, Kevin found that the Coffee Party fit the bill. He also appreciated that the Coffee Party took a stand on issues that he cared about, such as money in politics and ensuring that all people have equal access to elections.
Between work and volunteering with the Strategy and Implementation Work Group, you wouldn’t think that Kevin has time for much else. But believe it or not, Kevin also volunteers with the Board Development Work Group, helping to interview and vet potential Coffee Party board members.
When not working or volunteering with the Coffee Party, Kevin enjoys keeping up with current events, reading comic books and taking Tesla his two year old Corgi, to sheep herding lessons to learn the skills for which Corgis were bred.
Tim DanaheyCoffee Party USA Director of Public and Member Relations
Rarely is a political campaign littered with such questionable characters as we are experiencing today. No matter your political point of view, there is someone certain to assault your sensibilities. However, there is one candidate who has antagonized almost every demographic except his core followers. That person is Donald Trump.
Donald Trump has insulted and disparaged people of various faiths and races in multiple statements. He has proposed solutions to imaginary problems that are unconstitutional, inhumane, and unworkable. He is unapologetic and belligerent when confronted. His public persona is not Presidential and is generally unlikable.
He is so unlikable that many protesters have mobilized to disrupt his rallies in places such as Chicago, Kansas City, and Dayton. They have entered Trump's venues, shouted him down, and even forced the cancellation of an appearance.
And the protesters were wrong. And it will ultimately hurt their objectives. Here's wh
- We've given him an expanded media platform. We've taken what should have been a contained and largely ignored hate virus and turned it into a media epidemic. An unlikable man's unrealistic political platform has turned into the same ridiculous show as a pay per view wrestling event.
- The protesters have turned Donald Trump and his acolytes into victims. The protesters have the right to protest in public spaces – and they should. He is detestable. However, when the protesters entered what is essentially a privately arranged venue for a political candidate to express his repugnant views in order to shout him down and prevent him from speaking, they have violated Trump's right to speak to his followers. The protester's have denied his rights and he can now play the victim to galvanize current support and attract new followers.
- Trump can now make wild accusations that the protesters were organized, financed, and supporters of Bernie Sanders. This gives Trump the ability to control the debate without discussing substantive issues. Bernie Sanders has to be defensive and deny involvement and that is not the position you want your candidate to face.
- The degeneration of shouting protests into sporadic violence presents a graphic that will sway undecided voters toward Trump rather than away from him. Unaligned observers will simply see violence arising from protesters at a Trump event. There will be no analysis of cause and effect and who started what. It's just violence that was allowed because a few well-intentioned protesters tried to disrupt Trump's gathering. Violence does not work. The right wing understands that and effectively planted hooligans to cause violence against police in the Occupy movement. That story didn't make the news because the four-minute news segments focused on the visuals without investigating the real story. Nonetheless, the Occupy movement collapsed when the right wing seeded it with hooligans and diluted it with the homeless population. The right will do it again to undermine the left in this Presidential election now that the seed of violence has been planted.
Trump could ultimately fall on his own swords of ego, pomposity, and undeveloped thinking. However, if protesters are not willing to let that happen, then they should protest more creatively and peacefully. T-shirts with “I Turn My Back on Hate” and simply turning away from Trump when he speaks would be far more effective. Plus,it allows spontaneous participation that shouting and violence do not allow. Others can turn their backs when Trump speaks. It would be silently effective.This is no treatise on how to protest. The best protests are those that are planned and allowed to grow organically. Each cause, each community, and each individual are far more creative than I am. However, canceling a political rally is not a victory. Inciting violence is not a winning tactic. Creating a victim will not inspire others to your cause. Hate will not triumph on either side. We are above that.
This is no treatise on how to protest. The best protests are those that are planned and allowed to grow organically. Each cause, each community, and each individual are far more creative than I am. However, canceling a political rally is not a victory. Inciting violence is not a winning tactic. Creating a victim will not inspire others to your cause. Hate will not triumph on either side. We are above that.
One note for future protesters: Jimmy Carter has said that if presented with the choice of Donald Trump or Cruz, he would pick Trump. Why? He said Trump is malleable and willing to compromise to achieve results. Carter says Cruz is an inflexible ideologue which would make a dangerous President. There are more dangerous candidates than Trump. Trump is just the person the media wants to destroy now. The worst may be yet to come.
Debilyn Molineaux, Coffee Party USA President
Just today I read an article by Frances Moore Lappe’ “Six Pieces of a Real Democracy Movement We've Never Had Before”. Here they are, in short:
We know the system is rigged.
We are finally connecting the dots.
We agree on the solutions.
We are uniting across old divides.
A massive and savvy citizens' movement is taking off.
Lappe’ goes on to promote Democracy Spring (April 2-11) and Democracy Awakening (April 16-18), inviting people to participate in these demonstrations and protests bringing awareness to Congress of the need for campaign finance reform. She closes by calling out the need for a catalytic agent to bring this all to life.
Ironically… I was also reading about the underlying cause that has led to the popularity (or symptom) of Trump. Ravi Iyer of CivilPolitics.org speculates in this article about the moral motivations of Trump supporters, which many people would recognize.
Trump supporters have many moral motivations that many who disagree with him would recognize and value.
They worry about the lack of jobs for hard-working, but under-educated Americans.
They fear that the system of lobbyists and special interests is stacked against them.
They think that politicians cannot be trusted to fight for everyday Americans, due to their reliance on donors who line their pockets.
They feel that their identity and their ability to express their opinions is under attack
Recognize these motivations? They are nearly identical to the motivations of Sanders’ supporters. Iyer goes on to encourage us to acknowledge the common ground we have, especially around the corruption of our elections and lawmaking that gives corporations, special interests and lobbyists more influence than voters. Iyer closes with this:
As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that” and there is ample research that suggests that forging positive empathic relationships across divisions is indeed the only way to truly heal a great moral divide.
This video demonstrates one person’s dedication to finding common ground.
Let’s live up to the ideals of our country by joining together for the political revolution that is clearly needed. What will you do? Please share your experience and plans with us!
Debilyn Molineaux, Coffee Party USA President
Last month, I created a Facebook post asking for feedback to prep for this article. I had hundreds of very thoughtful comments and idea exchanges. Thank you all for participating!
The post posed a question; have we created a culture of victimhood and if so, what would be a healthy alternative? First, let me be clear. There are situations where people ARE victims. From First Nations to slavery to rape and more, everyone has been victimized by other people and by situations out of their control. What I am referring to is claiming harm for the sake of social or political gain. I’ll refer to this as “Victim Identity” or VI for short.
I mean… people are actually competing to have Victim Identity (VI) status in any given situation; from the “War on Christmas” to the “War on Women” to the standoff in Oregon. Why are people so quick to claim “they are harming me?” There must be some benefit.
It was noted by several people that real victims (meaning those who have been systemically oppressed) are starting to gain traction (i.e. power), so the “powers that be” are looking for a way to keep the power they have. Still other people noted that changing OTHER people’s behavior was only possible by inflicting a painful consequence. This got me to thinking about power dynamics and who has power in any given situation. And here’s the kicker: People are claiming Victim Identity in order to gather power at the same time, they are saying they don’t have any.
A victim is one of three main characters in any good drama. And we LOVE drama. Look at Hollywood. Every blockbuster has 1) a victim 2) a hero and 3) a villain. So where is the power for each of these roles? In most cases, the villain has unearned power. The hero takes the power away and the victim is the beneficiary of the hero’s actions. So the victim in our drama triangle wins the power!!! Only it is temporary, and long-term, we all lose.
Could this be what is happening to us socially and politically? Are we claiming Victim Identity so a Hero will rescue us from (points fingers dramatically) the Villain? Look at our election this year. People who are disenfranchised are looking to their candidate to “save us” from 1) Wall Street & the wealthy who are not paying their fair share or 2) the over-reaching federal government or 3) fill in your own blank.
I don’t know about you...but I’m really sick of this drama triangle. It makes for great movies and lousy governance. Instead, let us create a culture that honors each other and is curious about differences while actively building better relationships. When I listen to people about what we want for our future, I hear three things over and over. Live in a safe and peaceful place, earn a good living, and leave a better life for our kids.
We need a new story about ourselves and our neighbors. We need a new power dynamic where the citizens KNOW they are in charge...and so do the elected officials. Let’s have less consumerism/marketing and more authentic engagement with each other. Together, let’s create a new narrative about the United States. One that rejects the drama triangle as our governance system.
DDT graphic: © 2014 - David Emerald - All Rights Reserved – www.powerofTED.com, used with permission.
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!