succumbing to peer pressure

Friday, July 06, 2007

Oh dear readers, I can hear you now - Megan, enough with the nostalgia! No one cares! Tell us about the rest of the US Social Forum! Well, ask and you shall receive.

On Friday morning (after forking over an offensive amount of cash to the carpet cleaners) I hit my first workshop of the day, called 8 in '08, and organized by the Backbone Campaign. The idea was to come up with eight broad topics that were important to us as progressives and then flesh that out into a workable agenda that we can use to put pressure on politicians. Presidential candidates specifically, but really any candidates at any level. Of course, I worked on the healthcare part, and I'm so excited about it I almost want to run for office myself! We said:

Pass HR 676
Include/improve mental health parity
add nutrition to the urban planning agenda - no more McDonalds and Taco Bells outnumbering grocery stores with fruits and vegetables!
transfer funds from abstinence only education to expanded sexual education programs
increase funding for public clinics
increase funding for screening (physical and mental!)
recruit a more diverse population to healthcare professions
include/add incentives to serve underserved communities/populations

Sure, it's pie in the sky and includes all sorts of money that we clearly don't have, and we didn't even get to re-vamping elder care. But it's a list of concrete things that we could be doing to improve the health of everyone in America.

We ran through the other topics too quickly for me to take adequate notes, but the Backbone campaign will eventually have all this stuff up on their website. One suggestion that really piqued my interest was to make election day a federal holiday. Makes sense to me, but I have to confess I haven't given it a lot of thought. Anyone know any reasons why it currently isn't?

That afternoon I caught the beginning of "From Hillary to Nancy" before sneaking out for a beer with Daniel before he headed to the airport. The afternoon workshop was organized by CodePink, and I have to say those ladies have some moxy! They snuck into a Hillary Clinton fundraiser by disguising themselves as caterers! Once inside they unfurled big signs asking Hillary to stop funding the war (before they got arrested). Turns out they're well known enough now that there's such a thing a "pink profiling," where people will get thrown out of events just for wearing pink! A couple of links, for those who are interested: provides a list of all of Clinton's campaign stops (part of codepink) tracks Clinton's voting record

Friday night was spoken word in Little Five Points, a beautiful release of anger and frustration and joy and sadness, on a million and one topics, from gender and sexual identity to skin color, from putting food on the table to the war. I bought Doria Roberts's cd (fans of Melissa Ferrick, April, I'm looking at you, will love her) and plan to buy Grub by Anna Lappe and Bryant Terry because it fits perfectly with my latest pet project to get nutrition included more often in the broader healthcare agenda.

"Yeah I've got a choice, but my choice sucks! If I lose my GI bill, are you guys going to pay my bills?"
-Jabbar Magruder

Saturday morning was all about organizing the peace movement. Magruder is part of the Iraq Veterans Against the War, and he told us about the spectrum of resistance available, even to men and women still serving. For example, military members have a right to sign the Appeal for Redress. For sources on other military rights go here or here. Magruder also provided us with this sound bite, "Soldiers are indoctrinated with the idea that they defend freedom, they don't practice it."

Fernando Suarez del Solar also bravely spoke about losing his son to the war in Iraq. He said the US military provides support (financial, emotional, etc.) to significant others and children of soldiers, but not parents of soldiers. That was is needed is outreach and support to extended friends and family because they are all affected. He says what he's doing is not anti-war, it's pro-life! While speaking at colleges del Solar also makes a point to visit high schools, to talk to teenagers about the potential ramifications of signing up for military service.

I know this has been a mostly dry re-hashing of workshops, but I've got a whole 'nother set of notes about impressions and inspirations. One thing at a time.


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