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Good morning!

This is the weekly DKos Asheville open thread where we try to get together every Saturday morning around eleven, and then drift in and out throughout the day. We hope this group serves to reinvigorate us locally and regionally here on Daily Kos, building on the sense of community that's grown through our online engagement. DKos Asheville can give us all a better sense of connection, a better understanding of who these people are that we stand with, work with, and share with in the political process. We hope, through this community, that we can do a better job of leveraging our orange passion for progressive politics to help elect more and better Democrats.

If you would like to host a weekly open thread, please let us know.

So three of us met Friday afternoon a week ago for the drive to Raleigh.  It was a long drive down through heavy traffic on I-40, but the conversation was good and we did eventually get there.

The room was great; and it had a microwave, so we heated up some food I had cooked before leaving the house.  We discussed our strategy for the next morning; then unfolded the roll-away, pulled out the sofa-bed, and called it a night.

We were concerned about parking, so our strategy was to get an early start and park where I had parked on two previous Moral Monday trips, a few blocks north of where the march would end.  When we left the motel, we were only a half hour behind schedule.

We arrived at the parking garage, and ours was the only car there; so no problem with parking!  We set out on the hike down to the gathering place for the march; it was a long walk in the brisk cold morning air, but hardly noticeable in the excitement of the day.  The walk was made all the more enjoyable when we met and walked with a local resident who had attended all of the Moral Monday protests.  Spending that time with him was a great start to the day's events.

We arrived at the gathering place.  A small stage was set up, and there was already a good crowd milling about.  Two of our group got some food at a fast food joint on the corner (which was doing a great business), and then we made our way to the other side of the stage.  We weren't too far back, and could see and hear well.  The speakers were all brief, as the crowd continued to grow.  And we soon saw the first buses pull up.

Eventually, Reverend Barber took the mic and asked those of us in front of the stage to back up so that the folks behind the stage, where the buses were arriving, could get on the street with us.  There was an announcement that there were 100 buses coming to the event.  Not too much later, he asked us again to back up; so we're walking further away from the stage, and soon could not see the stage at all (it was a small stage).

We eventually stopped, and stood, and waited.  We were in a big crowd of people, and it was cold.  No sun.  But it was wonderful.  The people around us all had smiles on their faces; everyone was enjoying being with this group of people.

And there were all kinds of people there.  It was an amazing cross-section of activists (to travel from all over the state to be there on a cold Saturday morning pretty much defines you as an activist), and their signs represented all kinds of issues and groups.  There were lots of older folks like me, and lots of younger folks from area universities, and all sorts of folks in between as well.

We waited there a long time.  There were no longer any speakers; and when we tried to see if there was any movement ahead of us, we couldn't see nothing but a big crowd of people and signs.

But for me, this was the highlight of the day; it was just a wonderful experience being with those people in that space.  The warmth of those people offset the cold of the morning air.  There was singing, there were conversations among people just meeting from different parts of the state, there was picture-taking.  And I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the faces, these people who all care about social justice and showed up all together on this cold morning to show it to the rest of our state and the country.

Eventually we did get moving.  The march itself wasn't too long, and was uneventful.  But then we rounded the corner and saw the main stage, and the huge crowd that was gathered in front of it, filling several blocks.  What a sight that was!

There were two big screens set up to watch the live video of Reverend Barber, who had already begun speaking as we arrived.  We could barely see the stage, but the video was clear.  The sound where we were was pretty good too, until a piano player and sax player started accompanying Reverend Barber; and his words were being covered over by the music.

But it didn't really matter.  We had heard him speak several times before; and the joy was just being there, being a part of this moment in our history, standing up for our fellow citizens, our communities, our neighbors and families.

Reverend Barber was on a roll, building the fervency and import of his address, and finally reaching a crescendo, where he walked from the podium, and the day's events came to a close.  And the sun finally came out.

We eventually made our way back to the car, and started the long drive back home.  We stopped at a rest area at the halfway point, and right behind us rolled in the five buses from Asheville.  It was late in the evening when I finally reached my house.  A long, but wonderful, day.

I imagine that there will be more events this year as we build momentum for November.  If you have not yet been to a Moral Monday event, please try to make it if you can.  It is important.  Each body in the crowd contributes.  We inspire each other; we are spiritually nourished by being with so many beautiful caring people.  And when our fellow citizens see us together, standing up for what is right, it gets their attention, it makes them think.

We have a lot of work to do.  It will not be easy.  The polls of the Senate race suggest that even though the Republicans have done much damage to our state, it has not yet hurt them.  The size of the crowd last Saturday shows that those who are paying attention know what has been happening and know that it needs to end; but too many have not been paying attention, too many are understandably so busy with their own lives that they haven't yet focused on the importance of this year's mid-term election.

We need to register people to vote, we need to educate on the issues, we need to get others involved to the degree that they can.  This is our state; and this year will determine the path we take moving forward, or backward.

I am very grateful for the experience of being there last Saturday; and want to say thank you to those who helped make the trip a success.

  ~~~~

Brrrr.  It's 27 as I write, the wind is blowing, but the sun is out!  Hoping to work on clearing snow and ice from the driveway today.  Looking ahead, the forecast is for daily highs in the 50's, perhaps as soon as tomorrow.  We may want to start thinking about getting our voter registration project fired up again.  The primaries are in May, just three months away; so the sooner we get started, the better.

  ~~~~

And as a reminder, we now have a google group for DKos Asheville, setup for the purpose of making it easier for us to send messages to group members.  We'll use it to send reminders of the Saturday open threads, meetups, voter registration events, etc.  If you would like to be added to the google group, kosmail me an email address and I will send you an invite.  Note, this is a private group and your email address will not be public.  Remember to check your email for the google invite.

  ~~~~

Enjoy your day!

  ~~~~

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