The Battle of San Luis ObispoBy Laramie Crocker At the outset, were the great tribes. I travelled with the Tribe of the North. We were to meet the tribe of the South, and the tribes of the middles. On our journey, we discussed the main impediment to the happy unification of the tribes: the Wicked Witch of the South. I was incredulous that the Witch of the South could have such powers as she did. But my travelling partners told such stories of woe, replete with underhanded doings and backstabbing, that I was compelled to heed the warning. But it was not 'til I met the Wicked Witch of the South for myself, that I fully believed she could exist, and that she could truly be evil. But I am getting ahead of our story. Having surmised that we were destined to be squashed under the thumb of the Witch of the South, I expressed a desire to let the light of truth shine, and I fomented rebellion. Quick were my compatriots to urge me on to this rebellion, and lined up to give support. Nay but that I felt I would be the sacrificial lamb to go forward with my resistance to the Witch. But my compatriots were heartened, so I felt that for the good of the group, I must. And little had I to loose -- I was the wandering minstrel, happy in the company of the tribe of the North. What was my downfall when the tribe could succeed? At the worst, I would write a song about the carnage, and back in the green lands of Bonita Hollow, we could drink late into the night and tell the Tale of the Meeting that Failed. And so, at dinner the night before the battle, we hatched our plan. As the fair spirit of luck would have it, the Tribe of the North had secured a Co-host to the meeting. And to this man, our Knight of the North, did I and the fair maid of the everpresent notepad present our plan. Our Co-host agreed with our plan to right the wrong of the stolen agenda, and to present the revised agenda to the group at large for adoption. This seemingly normal task was in direct contradiction to wishes of the Wicked Witch of the South -- she had stacked the agenda with her own items, and had given us a shell of that agenda as pre-approved, and not open to adoption. At breakfast the next day, one of our number brought forth the plan, and again(!) handed the topic to me, your poor minstrel and wandering knave, urging me on to present the plan to our breakfasting Northern tribe's contingent. I relayed the plan, and it was discussed, and conferred upon by the wizened elders. Again was I nominated to lead the charge against the old witch. With a heavy heart, I ate my oversized pancake breakfast, fearing it would be my last solid meal. When we converged upon the battleground, all was happiness and bustle. Tables and chairs were arranged, a cellphone link to the Governor was affixed, music and soundgear prepared. Our lady of the perpetual notepad began to scribe the modified agenda on the chalkboard -- it with two breakout sessions instead of one, and announcement where before there were none. We conferred with our Knight of the North, and girded ourselves for battle. At five minutes to the hour of the meeting, the skies grew dark, and the winds did blow. Dogs and cats in the neighborhood ran for cover. The trees themselves quaked. The Wicked Witch of the South approached! Dressed in the most hideous floral, gay tones imaginable, with open toed sandals that would make a sea-faring, swashbuckler quake, came the Witch. And the Hat. The Hat. It was all your poor minstrel could do to contain his fear at the sight of the hat. The hat blotted out the sky, its multicolored brim obscured all above and behind. And below, below, below The Hat.... Dear tribesmen and tribeswomen, I fear I cannot go on. But I must. She came with the hat. And below the hat, a countenance so haughty, so regal, so righteous, so full of itself, that mere mortals were knocked aside by its audacity. And soon behind her, came Monkey-Boy. Yes, the flying monkey with the sharp teeth, and the nicely coordinated suitcoat and slacks. Our Knight and I greeted the witch and Monkey-Boy. Our Knight calmly informed the duo about the agenda changes. And the witch opened her mouth to speak, and a vile wind laid waste to several counties around. She ranted and railed, and our Knight stood fast. Monkey-Boy took up the fight as the witch huffed and pouted and walked in circles. I engaged Monkey-Boy in smiling combat, to assist the Knight. (I mustered an assured, calming smile and rational talk, neither of which reflected my inner state.) In short time, we prevailed the first skirmish. We had won the right to present the agenda to a group vote for adoption. Democracy: 1. Forces of evil: 0. And so I sang the song of introduction to the good tribespeople. And the witch stood behind me, attempting to upstage me with her dour countenance. (She continued the holding of the upstage position throughout the day.) But I have sung my songs in bars with rowdy Republicans, and I was not swayed. Our Knight presented the agenda, and convened a vote, and we carried the vote almost unanimously. And the groups convened by our lady of the chariot-that-is-a-bra were included. The tribespeople of the South and our new friends, the tribespeople of the middles seemed happy to have some light to look to that could shine under the great shadow of The Hat. Democracy: 2. Forces of evil: 0. On to the Agenda! The agenda went nicely with introductions. Our lady of the meetups gave a stirring presentation of the goodness and light the tribespeople of the North offered. Then the witch pulled out a fast sally. Two un-announced speakers who were running for office were given the floor! They presented political campaign speeches for their campaigns. They were good fellows, but none of us saw this item coming. The witch of the South gained somehow in this, how I'm not exactly sure. Democracy: 2. Forces of evil: 1! Then, to the announcements. We presented our announcements, and the glow of energy and activism warmed the people with new hope. I presented the good news of PartyForAmerica, and many others made important announcements. I then presented a message of goodwill to those who would receive bogus emails from trolls, entreating those present to form the bonds at this meeting so that future bogus emails could be recognized as such, and that they could use the connections made at the meeting to get to the bottom of the truth. Democracy: 3. Forces of evil: 1. Our illustrious guiding light, the Governor himself, appeared on the cellphone and filled the air with his voice. He asked to take questions from the floor, but Monkey-Boy insisted that the written questions were sufficient. So the great one spoke to the written questions, and it was good. But even better, when he was done, the great one asked us to come forth still with questions from the floor. Despite Monkey-Boy running around making disruptive comments all the while, the questioners came, and the great one answered each in his turn. Among the answers, was a desire from the great one that California have a single point of contact to the great one. It is on this last point that our lady of the houseparties carried the day. But first, a report on what transpired at lunch. For lunch, the witch and Monkey-Boy repaired to outside, disdaining our company. After the tribespeople had gotten plates of catered food, our Knight began to present the need for the structure committee to form and decide what kind of group the statewide organization would be. It was decided that the structure would be decided in the two breakout sessions. The Wicked Witch quickly announced that she would get to the bottom of the email trolls herself, thus attempting to fool the people -- for she had done nothing up to this point to cease the bad air over the emails. Democracy: 3. Forces of evil: 2. O brothers and sisters of the tribe, I feared that the battles, though glorious, would not carry the day. But then, after lunch, our lady of the houseparties stepped up and boldly proposed that an interim liaison be elected to represent us to the Great One, until the structure committee finished its task. There was some mild rebuke from Monkey-Boy, who but then withdrew his amendment -- he was already beginning to show some reasonableness, perhaps because the weight of The Hat was lifted slightly by our presence. I put forth a proposal to use Instant Runoff Voting, fearing a split between the North and South tribes. Our good fellow of the South Bay, good Sir IRV, jumped up to explain IRV to the people, and volunteered to conduct the election. All were impressed by his command of the situation, and again(!) was our motion carried. Democracy: 4, Forces of Evil: 2! Our fiery red-haired Queen, the Good Fairy Witch of the North, was nominated to the ballot, as was Sir IRV, and our trusty Knight, and also the good lady of the Southern house parties, and also Monkey-Boy himself. None stepped forth to nominate the Wicked Witch. A tense moment held the room. Would Monkey-Boy be elected, and bring about an era of darkness and steal all the good energy of the newly formed CA-DFA to the necessary but uninspired campaign of the good Prince of the Fantastic Hair, and leave all others squabling without inspiration and community? The votes were tallied, and lo! The Good Fairy Witch of the North prevailed. The tribespeople of the South were free of the yoke of The Hat. Now to work! We must network with them, every one, to show them the joy of distributed organizing, and self empowerment. Democracy: 5. Forces of Evil: 2. But this final victory was so much larger than any of us had anticipated, that we could not believe it. All of us, working together, and riding upon the work of our Good Queen to foster community and make connections, carried the day. Hard work and a desire to get the job done won this day over self-centered bureaucrats. There was a skirmish in the structure group, but I'll let others who understand this more report on it. In the end, we went home, weary from battle, but with light hearts, having carried the day. And on the way home we processed the negative energy out of our systems from the wicked witch with therapy and laughter, in the chariot-that-is-a-bra. We ate greasy Mexican food with our new Queen, the Good Fairy Witch of the North, now the Queen pro tem of California for Democracy, and planned for her glorious interim reign, with a new blog on a new website for California for Democracy. Long live the Queen! Long live Democracy!