Monday, January 24, 2005

Report on Humboldt Day

The first annual Humboldt Day was held this past Saturday at the Gazebo in Eureka's Old Town. I estimate the crowd was about 250 strong at its peak. In addition to addressing the audience about No Confidence for approximately six minutes, I spent much of the day mingling in the crowd or hanging out with Scott Menzies manning the petition table. I regret that I didn't focus more on listening to some of the other speakers. Still, I will offer below what impressions I did form from an entirely pleasant event.

So first of all, there was a fantastic band whose name I never got. They played funky eastern-tinged grooves before, after and at certain points during the event. It had been hoped that they would interplay more with the speakers but then the speakers were also imagined to interact more with each other. To the audience unaware of the loose planning that occurred in advance, I think it probably seemed entirely orderly and reasonably efficient. There were no major snafus or disruptions that might have made the "production" seem amateurish. This is a credit to everyone who participated yesterday but most of all to Jack Nounnan. As what I've been calling the conceptual architect of Humboldt Day, Jack's vision was slightly unfulfilled while still an ambitious achievement has moved us forward.

Over the past few weeks there was an evolving program, like a theater playbill, that had the sequence of the speakers and topics. Unfortunately I do not have one at the moment. I want to reference some of the people known by their one-word nicknames, such as Sleeper and Verbena and others. Plus it would help me be clear about who I met.

The first person to speak introduced himself as Mike. He was part of a team of facilitators that moved things along between topic-speakers and performers. He approached me at the end of the day and complimented my stage time. He was surprised that I was as polished on the subject as I am and that he had not heard of me before. I think he is one of many people who heard the No Confidence call to action on Saturday. The message was explicit: sign the petition calling for a town hall forum on election reform, and requesting the No Confidence Resolution be put on the City Council agenda; and then go home and call the Councilmembers with this message. I got many new names for the mailing list. Let me know if you want to join.

Mike introduced Bill Thompson, a prominent member of Veterans For Peace, who spoke about his time in the service, I believe he said in Korea, and how he has been committed to teaching and peace and teaching peace. Bill also played an auto harp and sang. There were also musical performances from the Raging Grannies, a group of older women who sang an a capella medley, and a group from the Dell'Arte performing arts school in Blue Lake who dressed formally and spoofed billionaires for Bush.

So I already confessed to not giving the other main speakers my undivided attention, but the ones I remember include Harmony Groves, Arcata City Councilmember, who read a statement on behalf of I believe a minister. Harmony introduced me to the stage which was actually the spiral brick ramp that leads up to a concrete covered patio, collectively called the Gazebo. The band was at the top and along the rail coming about half way up the ramp were microphones for the speakers and performers. We faced into a courtyard bordered by small shops. There were about eight organizational or informational tables set up.

I also remember Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap talking about corporate power and community currency. I remember hearing about war tax resistance from a woman whose name I don't know. Verbena talked about forest defense and the pledge of resistance. I wish I could remember in greater detail because these people are so amazing. The biggest takeaway for me from Humboldt Day was that this community is mobilizing, there are plenty of people who get it, and we are capable of organizing ourselves and working together. I wish for people in other communities to feel that triumph and to build confidence upon that basis.

There were other speakers I have completely omitted from this report. I hereby apologize to them all. This advocacy journalist was clearly more in advocate mode that day. Perhaps a lesson on balance?



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