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Chicago and beyond: Inspiration in a weekend

By       Message James Oliver     Permalink
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PDA Grassroots leadership conference Aug 01-02 Chicago IL


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Chicago and beyond

This past weekend I had the opportunity to represent our local organization, the Progressive Dems of West Michigan at the National PDA Grassroots Leadership Conference in Chicago. I have never felt like less of a leader. Let me explain.

We have a fairly active group here in Middleville, Michigan, south of Grand Rapids. We have met, discussed, sponsored films, held panels, town halls, shown feature films and demonstrated but....

Until one sees the national organization in action, one has not truly been a member. Tim, Laura, Mimi, Diane, Tom and many others have more energy in their left arm than I have in my whole body. It inspires to see them in action.

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From Friday to Sunday some amazing people spoke from the heart about their beliefs and causes. We opened with a birthday party, the 4th for a group that was not supposed to survive very long. It now has 18,000 members and is growing quickly.

This is an organization which operates from the bottom UP! Every voice seems to be valued and everyone had multiple opportunities to introduce their thoughts, hopes and sometimes fears.

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I wrote earlier that I didn't feel like much of a leader. So many people have given so much time and effort to progressive issues and values. Executive Director Tim Carpenter doesn't so much "lead" as he inspires others to do good things.

On Saturday, after a 14 hour day, many of us stayed up to view a new film: Stealing America; Vote by Vote. It was well worth the time. This film did not present much new material but it was an opportunity to see how common folk experienced the 2004 election. This is a timely and important addition to the roster of films about our recent political history.

I left Chicago wanting to do more. There is much to do.


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