All I can say is wow!
That's what I usually say when I return home from a wild party, having a good time, or doing something great, something that I'll definitely remember for as long as I can.
The Rising Voices Conference hosted by National People's Action (NPA) was as they say from where I'm from "all that, and a bag of chips". If you don't know about National People's Action you can see this link for a brief look at about who exactly they are and PUSH Buffalo's relation to them.
If NPA's annual event held in Washington DC is the Rose Bowl of community organizing, this was the most action packed, suspenseful one to date. California, Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Ohio, Michigan, Atlanta, New York, Africa, Mexico, the Philippines, and many other places were represented this year.
The theme for this year's conference was #RisingVoices. It is a continuation of NPA's past themes around community organizing; when it comes to turning our world, and neighborhoods around, we are all in this together.
NPA's pep rally is always a big organizer's party, but the breakout sessions are always the place where food for the progressive, activist soul is served. Racial inequality, corporate accountability, worker's rights, and immigration were included on the list of discussion topics. NPA also for the first time officially teamed up with the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
Change, and not the kind that jangles around in your pocket, came riding into DC those few days from many places. PUSH Buffalo brought a bus full of about 54 folks from Buffalo to fellowship with change makers from places like Take Action Minnesota, who just helped Minnesota pass it's largest minimum wage increase in history, VOCAL NY who is working on improving conditions for people living with life threatening health issues in New York City, and IOWA CCI who has worked with small family owned farms and is fighting for clean water.
Direct action was also in effect during this trip. Non-violent gatherings were held at Washing DC offices for General Electric, and the Koch Brothers. There was also a huge rally/march on The White House for reform on the United States' immigration policies. Here many impassioned speakers gave personal accounts on this issue. Most spoke about their experiences with the breaking up of families, and about 10 trained demonstrators were arrested to help bring national attention to this issue.
After everyone heads home when the fun is over, the work doesn't stop. NPA works with attendees and likeminded groups to improve the effectiveness of the conference, and work on campaigns throughout the country (and sometimes the world) that will improve the lives of average everyday people.
But again, wow is all I can say. Wow! After almost 40 years NPA still knows how to throw a hell of a party.
Posted on Fri, May 9, 2014
by Lonnie Barlow filed under