Monday, June 20, 2011

Communing with "just folks" at Netroots Nation 11

At Netroots Nation, I was surprised by the people I met who were not bloggers and not affiliated with a progressive organization. It was the biggest crowd ever for NN's sixth year, with attendance of somewhere between 2,400-2,500.

There was Kathleen, a primary care physician from Minneapolis who, after 17 years, gave up full-time doctoring for life as a neighborhood activist. She has this idea that a neighborhood of no more than 200 homes can support itself with food, pay-as-you-go healthcare and education. A school or community center would be the hub of the neighborhood. I did not tell Kathleen this, but this seemed like a conservative's wet dream. Neighborhood schools. Mom and pop grocery store. Front porches and backyard gardens. And then I realized that this type of forward-thinking approach is opposed by Tea Party types as Leftist social engineering prompted by the scary U.N. "Agenda 21." Good luck, Kathleen! Leftie neighborhood organizers are the new conservatives!

I met a 50-something woman from southwest Kansas who came to Netroots Nation 11 just to hobnob with other Liberals. It's Kansas, after all. The legislature just killed its state arts agency and thinks that creationism should replace real science in school curriculum. I didn't catch her name but wish her all the luck in the world. She will need it.

I've already written about Pamela and her search for progressive policies in northern Virginia. She is a lifelong Catholic who attends mass in D.C. rather that putting up with the condescending anti-Liberal homilies from the narrow-minded Right Wing of the priestly fraternity. At least she can take the Metro to church.

There was the woman from North Dakota who was volunteering for the West Virginia organization working against mountaintop removal. She comes from the land of wind and cold and fracking and bad air. Sounds a lot like Laramie County, Wyoming.

There was the researcher from a San Antonio firm that does human testing for new medications. Not as scary as it sounds. Especially since his cause is revamping the U.S. electoral system. This was his fifth Netroots Nation conference. We rode the Light Rail together to the airport. It's one hell of a publicly-funded government transportation system. I am looking forward to the day when Denver's Light Rail extends to the airport on the eastern prairie.

It always comes down to this -- people, just people.

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