I get asked this question so many times by the media, members and the general public and I feel it's something that needs to be addressed by the both the Atlanta and Georgia groups as well on the national level with the questions being, “What does the Coffee Party stand for?” It seems that there are many who have trouble grasping the concept described in the mission statement and may be to abstract or broad for many to completely grasp. To be honest, I have often struggled with this issue, but I’m learning how to reconcile my personal beliefs and make them work within this particular organization. It hasn’t been easy, and I doubt it will be for many of us as we embark on this journey. We must all learn to let go of old pre-conceived ideas, prejudices and learn how to think and interact on a totally different level that what we’ve been accustomed to.
I joined the Coffee Party in February 2010 because although I did volunteer work in my community and was known as the local community hell raiser, I was tired of sitting and watching my country of birth, which I am extremely proud of being a citizen of, go slowly down the tubes without fighting for it. I refused to sit back in apathy and give into the damaging mentality of "nothing will ever change" or "why bother, my vote doesn't matter" as I know it isn't true and saw that during the 2008 presidential election. Armchair activism simply didn't hold much appeal for me and when I heard about the Coffee Party, I thought it was a much-needed platform to allow ordinary citizens who felt the same as myself to be a part of re-engaging and participating in the change process, as the election of President Obama was just one component (and the easiest, it seems) in that endeavor. For me, it appeared that many organizations that were active during the 2008 presidential election just disappeared off the map -- the election seemed to be a climax for many, but if one was paying close attention to what was being said during that time, there is/was much work to be done that can only be accomplished by us, the people. What we've seen transpire in the political arena of late only bolsters my resolve to remain with the Coffee Party, as daunting (and sometimes exhaustive) a prospect it may seem at times, especially when facing how to effectively combating the forces of corporate/special influences and how they have managed to pervert our democratic processes. I have to constantly keep in mind and remind myself that nothing worth having in life comes without a lot of hard work and a bit of sacrifice, but I'm not ready to acquiesce and think it can be accomplished, in due time.
The Coffee Party's founder, Annabel Park, recently sent out a memo that gives some clarity on what the Coffee Party stands for, which I'm providing excerpts of the original text below. After reading this, I'd like to know from the Atlanta and Georgia groups as well as others in the organization, what is it that you'd like your Coffee Party to group to stand for? Do you agree with Annabel Park's vision? What was it your initial impression of what the organization was going to be about and its mission at that time versus your impressions of it now?
From founder Annabel Park:
What is the Coffee Party?
The Coffee Party is a grassroots movement that sprang from Facebook during the healthcare debate to promote civility in public discourse and cooperation in government. Thousands of people came together spontaneously recognizing that we need to change our political culture.
It is now a volunteer-driven, nonpartisan, nonprofit (501c4 status pending) that seeks to promote active and responsible citizenship so that we have a democracy and a government that is accountable to the People.
We are net roots and grassroots community organizers and civic engagement trainers striving to reform our government so that special interest does not trump American people's interest.
Members are demographically diverse and independent in their thinking.
We are well aware that we cannot rely on the mainstream media to create an informed voting public. Part of what we need to do is to be a source of information for voters. So, we are a media reform movement as well as a government reform movement. This is why we are doing blog talk radio, creating YouTube videos, etc.
What are our goals?
Long-term goal: We need to establish ourselves as an organization of people, caring community members, who can bring information and civility to any issue. We have to emerge as a block of voters. We vote and we know how to turn people out to vote and keep them engaged in grassroots actions in an on-going way.
Short-term goal: Start focusing our attention on November and mobilize mass voter turn-out asking all Americans to participate this year. We want a wave of passion for civic duty to wash over America.
* We need to create a culture of collaboration, compassion and open communication. Let's not get caught up in the spiral of negativity and pessimism. We can make constructive criticism by proposing solutions and ideas along with criticism. We are learning together and we are all dedicated to mission.
* Let's come together as community of people who give each other the benefit of the doubt and show appreciation. Being part of a community and feeling appreciated will go a long way in terms of rewarding volunteers including those of us on the national and local support teams.