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Saturday, July 27, 2002

Rolling Thunder

I just got back from spending seven hours at the Rolling Thunder Down Home Democracy Tour. This is a "New Chatauqua" movement spearheaded by Jim Hightower that is wandering around the country to inspire and encourage activist groups. The list of speakers ran from Hightower to Barbara Ehrenreich and Tom Hayden. I caught bits and pieces of the speakers but spent most of my time at a table for the Tucson Area Bus Riders Union. Every group you could imagine was there but we were a bit swallowed in the scattered edges of the Tucson Convention Center and you didn't really get the chemistry for the event to really take off. They had lots of bands that I understand are great but I didn't know any of them since I am so far out of the edge in music, or even the middle. I'm sort of ten to twenty years behind in music.

We had about five groups at two tables since we all have little money so we rented together. There was us, TABRU, then Food not Bombs, Independent Media, Alternative Independent Media and Chaz. There were lots of people that stopped by even though we were way on the edge and everyone is for good transit, but so few use it themselves. We had groups of young kids (college age?) sitting on the floor in front of the table watching videos that AIM had on a tv. They seemed to be mainly videos of protests around the world and were both interesting and scary.

Next to me at various times were young kids helping with the different groups. One little Food not Bombs kid had several girls coming up to talk with him. Ordinary looking kid but he must have something! Food no Bombs cooks up donated food and hands it out free in parks, usually to homeless people. Keith from TABRU was one of the original founders of it many years ago in San Francisco so we always have lots of literature for them also when we have a table. Independent Media is a group that has websites around the world where people can post news from their area which gives an outlet for on the ground knowledge that we don't get from the networks. He was interesting to talk to.

Chaz publishes books about anarchy and his view about what is actually happening. He also had all kinds of bumper stickers that were all over our end also. That was great since people stopped to read them and then we could tell them about TABRU. All in all, we had an interesting table but the event as a whole lacked that energy that would take off and make it a great event. I understand that someplaces this has occured so I don't know what it was.

I wandered around to all the other tables and it was amazing how many little struggling groups there are in Tucson. So much to do but you just can't do it all. We also had lots of tables for people running for office as the primaries are coming up in a month or two. So many candidates I've never heard of. It was a good day but I'm tired. It's tiring to sit that long and act interested in the same questions or brushoffs. Not easy.

Rachel Aschmann 2002.
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