Saturday, June 20, 2009

Conference Kick-Off

Bit by bit, we’ve all been trickling into the hotel…noisily meeting,
greeting, and hugging our way through the day. We were a scattered
group as we checked into rooms, attended early sessions, checked out
the surroundings and gabbed with each other. But finally we gathered
together for the kick-off session. Scott Leckman, RESULTS Educational
Fund board chairman, introduced our beloved executive director, Joanne
Carter. He traced her long history with RESULTS, which is very
inspiring to beginning activists who may be wondering how much impact
and importance they can have. Joanne started as a veterinarian, then
successively became a RESULTS volunteer, group leader, and regional
coordinator. She then joined the RESULTS staff as a legislative
director and became our executive director last year! Joanne warmly and
graciously received our applause by saying “In a really true way, everything I
am is because of you all.”

She continued on by acknowledging how the hard economic times are
affecting our work and our personal lives. “The economic crisis makes
it more important than ever for us to be together, but it makes it
harder for us to come together.” Neverthelesswe had a
great turnout this year including representatives from Canada, Mexico,
the UK, Australia, Kenya, France, Tanzania, Brazil and the
Congo (I’m sorry if I missed some…Joanne however was sure to get all
the countries in). We are a vibrant growing community! We are missing
some people because of economic reasons, so Joanne stressed that we
are making a commitment to connect partners at home. Some ways that
some of them are participating are through letters, phone calls to
offices made on lobby day, media pieces, and even joining in on some
conference calls to be vocally in the room during the lobby day
visits (and hopefully, by reading this blog!!!). We hope that in
these ways, we can make this the biggest and most powerful conference
ever. Joanne says “Hello (to the people at home). We are sending you
our love. “

Joanne talked about the special nature of RESULTS in that what we
bring is a vision of what’s needed rather than what’s likely or
doable. We don’t start with “how much money do we think we’re going
to get?” We start with “what is needed in the world,” then we figure
out how to get there. Her message was that we work on making the
impossible possible.

There is a fundamental question that RESULTS will be thinking about at
this conference: How do we keep doing this and create demand? Some
specific facets of this question are: How do we inspire members of Congress to take
it on, then keep being the wind behind their sails that make it
impossible for them not to do it? How do we build a base of support
for ourselves? How do we get 100 people who would make three or four phone
calls throughout the year?

Joanne left us with some inspirational words about hope, which ended
like this: Hope is a decision. Hope is a practice. We’re here to
keep hope alive for each other.

As an extra blog note, I should mention that after the kick-off
remarks came recognition of our fantastic regional coordinators and
the Parade of Groups. If you haven’t seen this phenomenon, you really
should. We were treated to classic state songs, re-lyriced songs,
silly jokes, state history, custom poetry, and a great deal of genuine

Good night, everybody! See y’all tomorrow morning!

Cindy Changyit Levin
North Chicago Group Leader

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