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What I did at Camp


Fri, Jan 25th, 2008
Posted in Commentary

Camp is for kids, right? Well, I left my three kids with dad and set out for St. Paul for a weekend of intense "camp," without the traditional canoeing, mosquito-friendly tent, and fireside songs. I was a little nervous about what to expect, but I came home three days later feeling empowered. Camp Wellstone is a nation-wide program of WellstoneAction!, a non-partisan organization begun in 2002 after the death of Senator Paul Wellstone to carry on his progressive ideas. Remember his passion and energy?

"If we don't fight hard enough for the things we stand for, at some point we have to recognize that we don't really stand for them." --Paul Wellstone

I felt that passion and energy at Camp Wellstone. The camp was divided into three tracks: 1) candidate; 2) campaign worker; and 3) citizen activist. I put myself in the third track, along with other adults of varying ages and races and walks of life. We each stood up, introduced ourselves and called out our "burning issue." Global warming? Check. The War in Iraq? Check. National healthcare? Check. But those weren't even the top three-there were 33 burning issues in a group of 35 people-everything from veterans benefits to health/wellness issues (my favorite fire) to protection of vulnerable adults. We learned that a lot of those burning issues we all care about are interrelated, and that there's more to their solutions than just one vote at election time.

Over three days we learned about messaging, mobilizing, planning, and organizing. We worked in teams solving problems and giving presentations. The make-believe burning issue for my team was new construction of a garbage incinerator. We created a campaign entitled "We Live Here, We Breathe Here" and held a mock press conference along the shores of beautiful Lake George to gather public opposition to the project (I am not making this up for similarities to Fillmore County, I swear).

One of the most powerful exercises we did was to name characteristics of a leader. We decided a leader is someone courageous enough to do things no one else is doing, someone with vision who is genuine and cares for community, and well, we created a very long list (a lot of idealists there). Then we were asked if only leaders have these traits. Guess what. We all do. We are ALL leaders as citizen activists. Smart ideas? Got 'em. Energy? Yes. Passion for our burning issues? You betcha'. Individually, I am just one vote. But collectively, we have a lo .....
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It's all about the Benjamins

Mon, Jan 21st, 2008
Posted in Commentary

With a possible economic recession in our near future some in government think that a tax cut is the way to prevent this from happening. This theory is if we pay less in taxes we will have more money to spend and thus boost the economy.

I g ..... 
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Second hand smoke

Mon, Jan 21st, 2008
Posted in Commentary

The reported health risks of second hand smoke are likened to the Great Plagues of Europe. If it were true, Baby Boomers would not be a threat to Medicare and Social Security. They would not have been large enough to mount campaigns for women's righ ..... 
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The Year of the Rat(s)

Fri, Dec 28th, 2007
Posted in Commentary

Some last minute thoughts as we enter 2008, or in the Chinese lexicon, the Year of the Rat.

• There is one year left of the Bush - Cheney junta. They introduced the world to such noble concepts as rendition, torture (think waterboarding) ..... 
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Let's hear it for the "City Guys"

Fri, Dec 21st, 2007
Posted in Commentary

We see and hear tributes to our firefighters, police, and emergency responders; they deserve this praise, especially in our small towns where they are often volunteers, risking lives to protect us.

There is another group of folks who merit o ..... 
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Maybe they really are evil

Fri, Dec 14th, 2007
Posted in Commentary

Internet chatter in the so called blogosphere is nasty and vitriolic. Main street media is not much better with both major political ideologies demonizing and calling the other evil.

I have been concerned about Bush's intellect and Cheney's ..... 
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So, this is democracy?

Fri, Dec 14th, 2007
Posted in Commentary

The unfortunate thing about living so close to Iowa is the spillover effect of the presidential primary which is held every four years. The white noise emanating from south of our border has been deafening and will only get louder in the next few we ..... 
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Awash in a sea of noise

Fri, Dec 7th, 2007
Posted in Commentary

I never thought I would be agreeing with Spiro Agnew or Dick Cheney, or even G. W. Bush. They and others have over the years railed against the print, radio, and TV media about not sharing what they consider to be the good or accurate news.

..... 
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Henny Penny the sky is falling

Fri, Dec 7th, 2007
Posted in Commentary

A new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) was released last Monday. There are some astounding facts associated with its findings. They mostly make me believe it will be a long time before other countries will take our word about intelligence findin ..... 
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