As I sit here on my patio overlooking my garden and try to process the amazing turnout we had at the Traverse Area Indivisibles & Friends Picnic held at Peterson Park, Northport, yesterday afternoon, I scarcely know how to sum it all up, but here goes:
First off, thanks to all the volunteers, issue table groups, the four county Democratic parties who took part and boosted the event, and of course our wonderful line-up of speakers. These included Carolyn Moss, President of the Munson Nurses Union; Jim Olson, founder of FLOW; TJ Stephens, Chair of the Anishinaabek Caucus; Holly Bird, Lawyer for Standing Rock; Dan O’Neil, former Democratic Candidate for the 104th District; Dana Ferguson, Democratic Primary Candidate for the U.S. 1st District in 2020; Linda O’Dell, Democratic Primary Candidate for the U.S. 1st District in 2020; Rep. Christine Greig, MI House Minority Leader; Senator Gary Peters and Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
I want to make a point of saying that while each speaker promoted their causes or candidacy, each of them also promoted the necessity of protecting our silent partner and life giver, the Great Lakes. They advocated for the shutdown of Line 5 permanently and preventing any other fossil fuel pipeline from being placed under our precious Great Lakes. Clearly, water protection is a huge issue for Michigan, especially here in the 1st District. I venture to say that it is equally important to all nine states that border on or whose waters are fed by the Great Lakes freshwater system.
As reported by picnic organizer, Vickie Gutowski, based on name tags distributed, signup sheets, volunteers (about 40), issue table attendees, the Senator’s and Governor’s staffs, and law enforcement and EMS personnel, nearly 400 people were in attendance over the course of the afternoon! Included in that number were a leader from Chicago Indivisible, Denise Polyonak and Ruthette Mills, Chair of the Indivisible Central based in Curtis, Michigan in the UP! “Small But Mighty” is their moto and indeed they are! Thanks to both Denise and Ruthette for coming so far to help us celebrate our launch into 2020.
Thanks to Harold Lassers, Communications Chair of the GT Dems, and Denise Polyonak, for photographing our event. Their photos can be viewed here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/1Y4XUh1YeUxKbYxc6, and here https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1kYkshX3ATQsUw_MrWxUUYGQ1XCUipKwD.
I also want to pay special tribute to Vickie Gutowski and Sam Getsinger, whose amazing event planning and community organizing skills kept us on our toes. As Vicky told me at the end of the day when I thanked her, “I’m anal. What can I say?” Clearly that is a skill we all could do more to cultivate! Humor played a great part in our success especially from those wonderfully funny blasts put out boosting our event from Jim Dulzo, Chair of the Benzie Dems. I give a deep bow of gratitude to all of you.
Thanks to John Hunter, our valiant MC for his humor, his ability to change gears when needed and to the musicians who played great songs. Thanks to Bay Area Recycling for Charities for donating compostable plates, utensils and garbage bags. Also thanks to Barb Krause our timer for doing her best to keep folks on schedule, to the silent donor from Grand Traverse Indivisible, and to everyone who attended and demonstrated their passion for changing the direction of our country.
And finally, from John DeSpelder, Indivisible Grand Traverse, with whom I wholeheartedly agree: “I am so overjoyed to be a part of such a passionate, hardworking and caring group of people. We are building a strong network of Indivisibles and our allies. Think of it, the long list of esteemed speakers, the 22 groups that traveled to Peterson Park to join us today, the friends and neighbors that turned out...we're creating a huge community of like-minded people that are changing the political and social landscape of this beautiful area that we call home.”
While we should all pause for a moment to contemplate and celebrate our success, give ourselves a pat on the back, but then be ready to jump back into the fray as we move forward marching hand-in-hand into 2020!