Minneapolis Mayor Welcomes Netroots Nation, Tolerates Right Online
The 6th annual Netroots Nation, the country’s largest convention of progressive online grassroots activists with nearly 2500 attendees, was welcomed with open arms by the mayor of Minneapolis, MN, yesterday.
The convention is packed with panels (“What to Do When the President is Just Not that Into You,” featuring a quote-worthy Dan Choi), inspirational speakers (Russ Feingold and Gov. Howard Dean gave firey closing keynotes for the first night), full-length films (Bill Haney's “The Last Mountain” screens next) and interactive strategy sessions. Many of the events are streaming online, interspersed with live interviews by Free Speech TV. There are trainings, workshops, mixers and even an off-site Fight Back For Good Jobs Rally. Add a few good parties and a whirlwind weekend is sure to be had by all.
And to be envied by the conservative Right Online Conference, which has set up camp across the street.
Even Mayor R.T. Rybak of Minneapolis gleefully suggested at the close of the first day's events that the right wing activists (which will be hosting several 2012 presidential hopefuls) were simply being tolerated, but that the progressives before him were welcome to stay as long as they liked in his liberal-leaning city.
Adam Bonin, Netroots Nation’s Chairman of the Board, used his portion of the evening’s main keynote speech to discuss Right Online--what he called "the elephant in the room.” While only forty percent as many attendees are expected at Right Online’s event, Bonin felt it necessary to remind the audience, using a tongue-in-cheek Powerpoint presentation, to be civil toward their neighbors. He even went so far as to offer a few common-ground one-liners as elevator conversation-starters, such as, “Won’t it be great when Joe Lieberman leaves office, next year?
Mary Rickles, Netroots Nation’s Communications Director, said in an interview today, "I think the right has realized they need to try to catch up [with what the left is doing online]. But it’s going to take them a while to get here.” Every year, they hold their own convention in the same city as Netroots Nation--this time, directly across the street. Rickles suggested it’s an attempt to cash in on Netroots Nation's media exposure.Continued on the next page