Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Snake

If I seem to take part in politics, it is only because politics encircles us today like the coil of a snake from which one cannot get out, no matter how much one tries. I wish therefore to wrestle with the snake.

- Ghandi

Saturday, October 24, 2009

An artist's rendition

PopTech artist Peter Durand at painted during each session and his interpretation of my presentation is below. Click on it to enlarge. The rest of his work from the conference can be found here. So amazing!

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Malaysian artist and youtube sensation Zee Avi performed a set today and for some reason, as I logged off and closed my eyes a few minutes ago, this song was still in my head. Maybe its because I've been humming the melody since her performance today. Or maybe its because it reminds me of my own honeybee, who I wish could be here enjoying PopTech with me. Either way, enjoy and goodnight!

Pop Tech: Day 1 - 5 Words

I can barely keep my eyes open, so I’ll keep this post short and sweet. I promise to give more detail tomorrow. For now, five words:






That was Pop Tech Day 1.

As I lounge around in this beautiful, historic bed and breakfast, wrapped in a blanket, looking at notes from today’s amazing speech and fighting back yawns, more than ever inspired to think creatively - to put my passion and entrepreneurial energy to use and come up with a political social innovation project that can change our nation. I’s a lofty goal. But who’s gonna stop me? “There’s nothing so powerful as an idea who’s time has come.” (Victor Hugo)

In the meantime, I’ll continue to spread the word about politics for a new generation. The message seemed to resonate with the PopTech audience – both in person and online. For that, for this experience, and for the delicious lobster chowder that I ate tonight, I am truly grateful.

Pop Tech: Day 1 - The Beginning

So today begins what I expect to be one of the most interesting and intellectually stimulating conferences that I've attended.

My experience last night with several other speakers on the ride to Camden from the airport supports that prediction. I rode in a van with essayist Anthony Doerr, photographer Chris Jordan, educator and school founder Dennis Littky, and eating designer Marije Vogelzang. The stimulating conversation on the hour long ride covered everything from learning models (Dennis believes that the age of everyone needing to know one set of predetermined information - reading, writing, 'rithmatic - is long gone), to patterns of consumption (our use of plastic is like a Greek tragedy in that we contribute to the pollution that ultimately leads to our own disease and demise). And that was only the beginning...

Starving from my trip (at least that was my excuse...the flight was only an hour and a half...), I went to dinner my dear, dear friend Michael Skolnik and sat at a table with the founder the Hip Hop Theatre Festival founder, the founder of and one of its writers, a brilliant young real estate guy turned humanitarian who runs the Make It Right Foundation in New Orleans....the list goes on and on. The conference hasn't even begun and I'm already inspired by the sheer energy of the people I've come into contact with.

So my speech is this morning during the 11:00 session and I'll be following the humble sensation, Braddock, PA mayor John Fetterman. If I can give back a fraction of what I hope to receive at this conference, I will consider it a job well done.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Heading to Pop! Tech

So I'm packing my bags and heading to the (supposedly) beautiful Camden, Maine to speak at and participate in a conference that I have heard much about for the past several years: Pop! Tech. According to its website "this three-day summit explores major trends shaping our future, the social impact of new technologies, and new approaches to addressing the world’s most significant challenges." I've seen it talked about it years past in the New York Times, Business 2.0 and other major publications, all of which describe is as a sort of TED conference with a much more eclectic selection of guests and speakers. Looking at the speaker line up this year, that appears to be true. Artists, activists, scientists, writers, tech-gurus - you name it, someone from that field is coming to talk about the theme "America Reimagined".

I haven't actually finished writing my "talk" yet (something about calling it a talk rather than a speech inspires me...), but as always, I'm sure it'll come to me in the late hours of the night, in the final inning before my speech tomorrow morning. I'll be blogging here from the conference, so make sure to check back to hear my take on the speakers and the participants. Not sure if they're live streaming, but if so, I'll throw that up here too. I can't wait!

In the meantime, here's their own short promo vid explaining the conference:

Intro to PopTech from PopTech on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

8 Questions About Health Care Reform

A good follow up to my video blog (4 questions about health care reform), here are 8 more questions answered from the Washington Post.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Change has come to (am)Erica

Change isn't just a campaign slogan or a political phenomenon - its a powerful process that we can each undergo to do our small part individually to change the world at large and the tiny one that we inhabit every day.

I'm working for health care reform - shouldn't I strive to be healthier?
I'm working for education funding and transformation - shouldn't I commit to learning more each day?
I'm working for clean energy and to stop climate change - shouldn't I resolve to add more to my environment that I take from it?
I'm fighting for more jobs in our communities - shouldn't I be pushing and stretching myself professionally?
The list goes on.

Ultimately, our nation will only be as good - as healthy, prosperous, innovative, and kind - as its people. Politics has its limits and as much as I believe in the power of good policy to change lives, I've seen the power of individual transformation do more to lift people out of mental poverty and desperation than any law and any election. I thought about all of the change paraphernalia that I've accumulated over the past year - health care reform posters, campaign buttons, youth vote key chains and the like - and realized that the universe is trying to send me a not-so-subtle message: CHANGE. So maybe I should....

What about you?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Speaker Pelosi, young people (and me) make special announcement about health care reform

Tuesday, the Y.I. Want Change coalition for health care reform, participated in a press conference on Capitol Hill with Speaker Pelosi and Representatives Van Hollen and Dahlkemper, during which they announced a major policy victory for young people that will be included in the final House health care reform bill: a provision allowing young Americans to stay on their parents’ insurance through the age of 26.

The press conference also marked the official unveiling of the Y.I. Want Change coalition’s health care policy priorities for young people. Prior to the press conference, young people from 30 states met with their Senators to share these priorities, assuring them that young people are engaged in the health care debate, and that we are passionate about ensuring quality, affordable coverage for all.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Fall Reminder

The changing of the seasons from summer to fall, from warm to cool (and, for some odd reason this week, cold and rainy) always make me a bit sad. I can't help but think about all of the homeless people that I walk by on a daily basis. As I run with water splashing my boots, afraid to get my hair wet, wishing I had worn a thicker scarf, I think about the guy who sits outside the McDonalds, or the woman who wanders the Metro station, or the couple that sits in the bushes outside of the Safeway - they didn't get to run home to pick up their jacket, get an umbrella, and switch to a long sleeved shirt. The colors on the leaves don't make them eager for for pumpkin pie and apple cider. And they don't get to enjoy a chilly rainy Saturday like me -in the comfort of their warm apartment, curled up with a cup of hot cocoa and a newspaper.

Its strange but for some reason, out of all of the statistics that I hear on a daily basis, the anti-poverty organizations that I work with, and the rallies that I shout in, nothing reminds me of how much America must do better, quite like the changing of the seasons.