Diane Sklar published Maurice "Mike" Gravel (1930 – 2021): Alaska’s US Senator, Democrat (1969 – 1981) in News 2021-07-06 14:08:24 -0400
From Catherine Coolidge (Alaska voter & DA Lyon Vice-President)
As a born and bred Alaskan, I would like to pay homage to a former Democratic US Senator who represented my home state for 12 years before being defeated by a Republican who is Lisa Murkowski’s father. With the exception of one Senatorial term, Alaska has been a red state since Reagan’s Republican landslide in 1980.
Mike Gravel was born in Springfield, Massachusetts to working class French-Canadian parents and spoke only French in his early childhood. He served in the Army’s Counterintelligence Corps and then drove a cab in New York City while studying for his BA in economics at Columbia University.
Like my parents, the lure of adventure and independence drew Mr. Gravel to Alaska. He arrived broke and did whatever jobs he could find, working in real estate and even as a brakeman on the snow-clearing trains of the Alaska Railroad before launching his career in politics.
Alaska became the 49th state in January 1959. Mr. Gravel was twice elected to the State House of Representatives (1963 - 1967) and served as speaker in 1965 and 1966. Buoyed by his telegenic looks, in 1968 he narrowly unseated the incumbent 81-year-old US Senator, Ernest Gruening, who Alaskans referred to as “the Father of Alaska statehood”.
That same year, Theodore “Ted” Stevens, a Republican, was elected as Alaska’s second US Senator. Mr. Stevens went on to serve 40 years in the Senate and his towering legacy has heavily shaped Alaska’s current economic strategy, which is largely dependent on federal subsidies.
Both men hated each other. Their personalities, outlook and tactics were completely opposite. Mr. Stevens was a pragmatist, a plodder, an insider who brought home the bacon, funneled money to the military and who didn’t rock the boat.
Mr. Gravel was an idealist, a gadfly, a maverick and many considered him to be a showboat. He dreamed of stopping wars, building a self-sustaining Alaska economy and fundamentally changing American democracy. On June 29, 1971 he drew enormous national notice by reading The Pentagon Papers aloud for three hours in a one-man filibuster during a subcommittee hearing that he had called, finally breaking down in tears. At that time, all the major newspapers had been under court injunctions to stop publishing these documents.
During his 12-year senatorial term, Mike Gravel worked on issues that are the most important in Alaska’s history—the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Authorization Act, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act and the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. He opposed the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which set the 200-mile limit for fisheries, supporting an international approach instead.
During his 1968 bid for the U.S. Senate, Mr. Gravel changed the way campaigns were run in Alaska forever. Prior to that election, statewide election campaigns focused almost exclusively on Alaska’s cities. Mr. Gravel was the very first to court the state’s rural vote so widely.
He sought to better the lives of Alaska Natives in rural communities by developing rural education. At that time there were no schools in the villages of rural Alaska. Native children were often sent to public schools in major cities such as Anchorage or Fairbanks, thus totally isolating them from their supportive communities. Thanks to a government bond that Mr. Gravel helped bring about, regional schools were finally built in the outlying villages.
Many remember Mr. Gravel as a highly creative person, constantly throwing out new ideas and policies. People mocked him in the 1970s for saying that Alaska should not rely on oil for its permanent economy but rather use the wealth to invest in infrastructure for a year-round tourism industry. The local media made fun of his Denali Tent City proposal around Mount Denali, inspired by Olympic Games Village tents. His proposal for Alaskans to own part of the oil pipeline was laughed at.
Today, people are viewing his proposals much more favorably in hindsight.
Mike Gravel has had a lasting impact on Alaska and unceasingly contributed to projecting the state into the future. He deserves credit for coming up with ideas and pursuing them regardless of the consequences.
His explanation of this policy, in later life, was:
“You turn around and throw a rock in the water, and that is the process of doing something with my life, and after I’ve done it, it causes ripples that are never-ending.”
As a teenager growing up in Alaska in the 1970s, these ripples touched my life forever.
LET'S CONTINUE THE FIGHT
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I graduated college in the 70s, just at the time when IT was taking off and pulling in lots of new female graduates. Technology was supposed to be the great equalizer because we were all, male and female, getting in on the ground floor at the infancy of this mighty new discipline. But it didn't work out that way. Today only 25% of the technology workforce is female and while there are some prominent female CEOs, I have always found the landscape of middle management in technology companies was completely male dominated. The changes we need are happening at a glacial pace! Of course, we need to get the ERA amendment ratified ASAP. But we also need pro-active programs to equalize pay, promote non-biased hiring practices and promote venture capital flow to women entrepreneurs in the tech sector. After decades of self-questioning and refashioning myself to the demands of a male dominated workplace, my only hope is that my daughter and other young women launching into the workforce now can be more genuine and spontaneous. Here's hoping they sit at conference tables with a gender balance and they have women role models and mentors to show them the ropes. Diane Sklar, France Resident, Vote in NY.
The nominations period for the Lyon Chapter Leadership Elections has now closed. The candidates for Lyon Chapter Leadership are listed below.
All members of Democrats Abroad France Lyon Chapter may vote in the Lyon Chapter Leadership elections. Due to restrictions imposed by the coronavirus, all voting will take place on line. Members will be sent a link to their ballots by an email coming soon.
You can meet the candidates, hear them speak and ask them questions, at the DA Lyon Chapter Annual General Meeting on Thursday, March 4th at 7 p.m. to be held via Zoom. Voting will close on March 4, 2021.
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Over 9 million Americans live outside of the United States. Democrats Abroad is working to ensure that as many as possible vote in November, and that Democrats win up and down the ballot.
We are phoning members, running social media ads, and mailing potential voters in order to win in November.
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Global Pub Quiz Fun(draiser)
We're looking forward to meeting your team -- or matching you with other Democrats around the world.
For each round we'll send out a google form for you to fill in the answers. Volunteers will grade each round and the winning team(s) will receive never-ending fame and fortune.*
Ninety percent of the funds raised from this event will go directly to GOTV. Did you know that just $5 USD can reach 125 voters?
The other ten percent will go to DA's travel fund. As a young-ish volunteer without disposable income I can tell you the #1 issue with getting involved at a higher level of commitment is being unable to afford to travel to the regional and global meetings. It's important to show up in person as it helps build relationships we need to keep up the good work. We want to have a big tent party and that perhaps means helping our younger or income-sensitive volunteers to be part of the organization.
Date: Saturday May 30th | Where: RSVP for ZOOM link!
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In temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, members of DA Lyon sought refuge at Tech Noir, a funky air-conditioned bar in the artist quarter of Lyon. There we watched 2 nights and 20 candidates worth of Democratic primary debates and played debate bingo that captured pithy expressions like “hard-working Americans”, “billionaires” and “reproductive health care”.
Diane Sklar published Lyon Soldiers on with Pride Parade Despite Torrential Downpour in News 2019-06-24 17:28:53 -0400
The Lyon Gay Pride March was called for 2pm on June 15. At 2:15pm there was lightning, thunder and the skies over Bellecour opened up with a violent storm. The march never left the city square where it began. About 20 intrepid members DA Lyon,Read more
Members of Democrats Abroad Lyon met today with colored paper, ribbon, paint, markers, brushes, rubber cement, rulers and electric screwdriver to assemble our hardware for next week's Gay Pride March in Lyon. Many thanks to Chairperson emeritus Joan Smith for putting together a poster making factory that made it easy and fun, even for the art-phobic among us.
Members of Democrats Abroad Lyon have met twice so far this year.....
Members of Democrats Abroad Lyon marched with 10,000 others in our city to advocate for more action combating global warming. This march was organized in support of the student march for the planet which happened the day before in our city. Twelve thousand students organized their own protest. We support the activism of the younger generations.
Name: Diane Sklar
Position: Chapter Chair
I’m a baby boomer from New York who came to Lyon in 2015 after a career in the tech sector. In my last technology job I was a product manager for money-laundering detection software. Here in Lyon I teach business subjects and English at various schools around town.
When I stopped working 60 hour weeks it was like awakening from a coma. I started reading about climate change, income inequality, gender inequality, the history of race relations and the stealthy erosion of the middle class. Then the 2016 election happened. I was shaken awake and needed to mobilize. I’m so grateful to have found kindred souls in Democrats Abroad. It is a community of forward-thinking Americans looking to make our country live up to its potential.
I’ve been on the board of DA Lyon as Treasurer and Vice Chair and am on DA’s global IT team. I’ve helped plan and attended most of the events that the chapter has held since its creation including coordinating a Get Out the Vote effort for American students studying abroad. I see 2019 as a rebuilding year. We will assemble a community of Democrats, young and old, in Lyon. We can spend 2019 getting to know each other and working together so that we have a fine tuned machine to make a difference in 2020.
Name: Julie Shapiro
Position: Chapter Vice Chair
My name is Julie Shapiro and I am running for Lyon Chapter Vice Chair. I am a dual American and Hungarian citizen originally from the Boston area. But since 2013, I have been a Florida resident and voter while I pursued a PhD in ecology. I moved to Lyon at the end of August 2018 to start a job as a post-doc with Inserm (Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale). The 2018 Midterm elections were just around the corner. I was following the news from the US, but I wanted to do more. I had briefly been a member of Democrats Abroad when I was working in Denmark in 2017. So within a couple weeks of moving to Lyon, I joined our Democrats Abroad chapter. I am especially passionate about voter outreach and get out the vote. I phonebanked all through September, October, and November for the general election and then for the Georgia and Mississippi run-offs, as well as supporting Diane Sklar's efforts to register students studying abroad. I hope to continue with these efforts and our new projects to keep American citizens abroad engaged in American politics.
Name: John Matthews
I am a self-employed software engineer and have lived in Lyon since 1999.
I joined the Board shortly after the Lyon chapter was formed in the wake of Donald Trump's election, first as a member-at-large and now as treasurer. We worked hard to engage new members to join us in the fight to overturn the disastrous policies of the administration and the Republican-controlled congress. We overseas citizens are also concerned with unfair treatment in areas such as income taxes, foreign bank account reporting requirements, and not being counted in the census. Our focus last year was on growing our membership and getting out the vote for the midterm elections, and we were successful in both areas. We have also worked to bring our members together through social gatherings and interesting events.
I am looking forward to continuing these efforts as we slowly ramp up the the 2020 elections.
Kelly A. Blunt
I consider my US home to be Portland, Oregon (which is where I am registered to vote) after an accumulated 24 years there, but I grew up in Southern California, and have lived in North Carolina, Chicago, Minneapolis and Boston. I was proud to be able to vote for Jimmy Carter in 1976 as a 19-year-old, after the law changed from having to be 21.
I have lived in France for almost two years, and have called Lyon home for the majority of that time. As I watched my friends commit to becoming more politically engaged after the 2016 election debacle, I was pleased to discover the Democrats Abroad Chapter in Lyon, and would like to become even more involved.
I have had Board experience in two non-profit organizations in Portland, including holding the offices of secretary (twice), treasurer, and president.
Name: Eva Moynihan
My name is Eva Moynihan and I am running for Lyon Chapter Member-at-large. I'm originally from the California Bay Area and enjoy telling French people that I'm from the area that makes the best wines in the world.
I decided to move to France after graduating from college in 2013. I had a series of jobs in banks in Luxembourg, which brought me to Eastern France (Metz). I felt pretty homesick, which was my original motivation for joining the Luxembourg branch of Democrats Abroad. It did fix my homesickness!
That said, I got more and more involved in the group because I enjoy feeling like I'm contributing in some way to our country. I was a Member-at-Large for 2 years and then Vice-Chair. Among other things I did phone-banking and helped run various events. I was also one-half of a debate team against Republicans Overseas before the 2016 elections, we did two debates attended by roughly two hundred people each time.
I moved to Lyon almost a year ago because I wanted to live in a bigger city. I love living here and want to contribute to Democrats Abroad. Thank you for your consideration !
Name: Claudia Quiros
I have been involved in Democrats Abroad since the birth of the Lyon chapter, with a short break when I moved to Paris last year during which I remained active in progressive organizing (even speaking at the Keep Families Together rally). I would like to run for a Member-at-large position because I believe in the power of using our civic duty, even from abroad, to fight for the principles we hold dear. For me, as a young person, these ideals include environmental justice, dealing with crushing student debt, fighting for racial and gender equity, and getting money out of politics. My current position working at the World Health Organization has confirmed my view that universal health coverage is not a pie-in-the-sky ideal and that health is a human right. If ever there was a time to be bold in our ideas and speak out against hate, injustice, inequality and fear, it’s now.
Name: Dori Laboune
My name is Dori Laboune. I’m from Corvallis, Oregon, and I’m a permanent resident of France. I’ve lived here in Lyon for about ten years now. I’m running for a member at large position, where I hope to help work on different projects. I’m really interested in issues involving climate change, medicare for all, (and cooking ).
In 2018 I retired from my corporate career in the US and settled in Lyon with my husband, Phil. We had previously lived in Lyon (along with our two children) for a year in 2003, and could not wait to get back and call Lyon home. I continue to maintain a home in Atlanta, which is where I am a registered voter, and very anxious to change the politics in that state. I also spent 9 years living in Denver, Co. which seems to have a similar dynamic to Georgia - very liberal big city in a generally conservative state. I am impressed with all the efforts that Democrat chapters abroad have been making to GOTV, as well as providing a forum to meet with people who share the same values and concerns. I’d like to be able to contribute more to this cause by serving on the Board of the Democrats Abroad - Lyon chapter.
Diane Sklar published What would you change about the Democratic Party? in News 2018-07-09 09:48:49 -0400
On May 17,2018 members of Democrats Abroad Lyon Chapter met to discuss the topic “What would you like to change about the Democratic Party?” The session grew out of hearing frequent objections from liberals and progressives to the behavior of our party before, during and after the 2016 Presidential election.
Our intended agenda was to look at the Democratic Party Platform and evaluate whether it addressed and prioritized issues correctly, and then to look at the Unity Commission Report to see if it went far enough to right the wrongs identified since the election.
It quickly became apparent that our members were not interested in evaluating policy. Instead, they had enormous pent up disappointment and doubt that needed to be expressed. We were lucky to have a diverse group representing both the East and West coasts of the U.S., as well as a few folks from the heartland. We were also fortunate to have a millennial with us who was very eloquent about the disenchantment of his generation with the party’s process.
The discussion was emotional. There were two main themes: expressions of angst over broken problems and suggestions for reforms and solutions. Here are extracts from the evening’s conversation.
Broken Promises and other problems
“We need a candidate who embodies both parts of the party, mainstream and progressive.”
“The Democratic party needs to learn how to address the political, geographic and rural center of the country if it is to win a national election.”
“The most energetic voters are the far right and the far left.”
“The Democratic Party has become just another party of white men.”
“The Party underestimates how much disappointment exists over the performance of the Obama administration.”
“The Party spit in the face of young voters. They need to do something to restore opportunity if they want to keep young voters.”
“There has been a loss of faith that the party will do what they say they will do.”
“The Party uses black voters for their purpose (to get elected) and then ignores them when governing.”
“During the campaign, the Republicans had a wider field of candidates and therefore their process looked more transparent. It appeared that, on the Democratic side, the DNC put their fingers on the scales.”
Reforms and Solutions
“Voters don’t care about platform. Politics is an emotional game. We need to build a brand and create brand loyalty, revisiting the concept of Yellow Dog Democrats who would vote for a yellow dog rather than a Republican.”
“Build and strengthen our ties with universities, creating international connectivity among universities and a global movement.”
“Fix the electoral college system. Control the message by speaking of Trump as ‘the president elected by the electoral college, not by the people’.”
“Work towards a constitutional amendment on congressional term limits.”
“Radicalize the middle because the progressive agenda is best for them too.”
“Hold election day on a weekend to improve voter turnout.”
Diane Sklar published Strong Support for the March for Our Lives Movement in Lyon in News 2018-03-27 02:16:04 -0400French and American students, along with parents and friends assembled in Lyon at 4pm, simultaneously with events in the US, to show support for the brave and passionate American students led by the Parkland shooting survivors. Our program was sober and serious. Robin Guinot, chapter chair, shared reflections on growing up in the post-Columbine world with the many young people in our group. Pictures of the victims of Parkland and Columbine were distributed to the 80 attendees. We couldn't bear to distribute pictures of the 6 and 7 year old babies who died at Sandy Hook. The names and ages of all the dead were read aloud.The inspiring words of Fred Guttenberg, father of slain student Jamie Guttenberg, were also read, as well as a poem called "What to Do in Case of a Gun Attack". To end on a note of hope, four high school and college students from our group read quotes from Parkland student activists David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez, Sarah Chadwick and Delaney Tarr. Last but not least, we read the short text of the letter written by Barack and Michelle Obama to the Parkland activists encouraging them to continue their work.When it was time for sharing from the audience, an attendee shared her experience of deadly gun violence on a college campus. Eleven years later she is still trying to process and deal with the horrific memories. Others shared personal stories privately about being touched by gun violence. Even in our small group of 80 people, 4,000 miles away from the East coast of America, many of us were personally hurt by gun atrocities.
Diane Sklar published Détendu And Ludique: DAL Discussion Group-Call for Submissions: in News 2018-03-05 16:43:28 -0500What are you curious about? Do you have expertise to share? Do you want to make an argument for something that you are passionate about? Do you want to study a new subject and give a presentation on what you have learned? Do a book report! We have a list of topics if you need an idea. We don't intend for this to be limited to politics.So, what do you want to talk about?
Democrats Abroad Lyon organized a visit to an exhibition in the Lyon public library honoring Dr. Martin Luther King on the 50th anniversary of his assassination. We were warmly welcomed by the curator, Michel Chomarat, who spent time with us explaining the inspiration behind the exhibition and answering our questions.
We learned that a French priest who attended Dr. King's speech at the Bourse in Lyon, 1966 became a life long collector of Dr. King papers and memorabilia. The exhibit was built around his collection. It included newsreel film of the "I Have a Dream" speech at the March on Washington. Footage of the crowd surrounds visitors in the gallery and makes you feel as though you were amongst the listeners in 1963, a truly moving experience. Also included in the exhibit were figurines depicting incidents in MLK's life by an American artist, a recreation of the church where King preached and many photos of other prominent civil rights leaders.
There is clearly a very special relationship between the city of Lyon and the memory of Dr. King and his historic visit here in 1966. The visit was an excellent moment to consider the question posed in the title of the exhibition - IS THE DREAM BROKEN?
Diane Sklar published US Consul in Lyon Addresses Democrats Abroad Lyon Chapter in News 2018-02-07 17:21:44 -0500
The US consul to Lyon, Rebecca Kimbrell, addressed the membership of Democrats Abroad at the Franco-American business school
CEFAM on November 21, 2018. Her talk was titled "The US System of Checks and Balances". Ms Kimbrell explained her role and
responsibilities as the State Department representative in Lyon since August 2016. She shared with us the kinds of the events
she attends and the people with whom she interacts. She answered questions from the audience about the American legislative system
and the powers of the executive branch. These days with executive orders flying out of the White House and pushback from the courts and
the Democrats in Congress, we were all happy to have a refresher course on how our government actually works. She reassured us
with reminders of how robust the system really is. Useful information to have at our fingertips when French people ask for
explanations of what is going on in Washington!!
Diane Sklar published Hear Our Voice: First Anniversary of Women's March Observed in Lyon in News 2018-02-07 16:34:10 -0500
Under the theme “Hear our Voice”, the first anniversary Women’s March rally was held in Lyon on January 21, 2018 in solidarity with the Global Women’s Caucus. About 30 people, women and men, members and non-members, met at in the city center's Place des Terreaux armed with signs and passion for the cause of sexual equality and a harrassment-free world.
Co-chair Robin Guinot explained that our mission was "not only to mark the anniversary of the Women’s March, but to keep the momentum of this movement going." Attendees then shared their thoughts, experiences and hopes for the future. We wrapped up by emphasizing that our POWER is our vote. Literature from the GOTV campaign was of course available because OUR VOTE IS OUR VOICE. Later, the group assembled at Lyon cafe for more talk and mutual support.