On Thursday evening, I finally made it out to the third “Mix It Up East Bay,” a monthly happy hour for young progressive activists, held at Arsimona Bar & Grill in downtown Oakland. Some of the leaders of the East Bay Young Democrats started this monthly gathering to promote community building among young liberals in the East Bay.
I had a lot of fun and met some interesting people. Many of the attendees worked for non-profits or campaigns, but I did meet others who worked for for-profit companies. I talked for a long time to someone who works for a large solar company and learned that some of their clients were not those you might expect going green, including Walmart and Chevron. (I guess both of those companies could use a green makeover.)
Elected officials, including Kriss Worthington, Berkeley City Council Member, and candidates attended as well. I got a chance to talk to Steve Filson, Democratic candidate for the state Assembly in the 15th District (which includes parts of Contra Costa, Alameda, San Joaquin, and Sacramento counties). The 15th District has been represented by a Republican for quite some time now, but Filson thinks that if McNerney could beat Pombo, than he can do it too. He also talked to me about the importance of picking up Democratic seats in historically Republican districts because we are not that far away from a 2/3 majority in the Assembly. If Democrats had had a 2/3 majority in the Assembly and the Senate this year, we could have avoided the prolonged fight over the budget, in which Republicans held the budget hostage to push unrelated demands (including curbing state environmental regulations).
Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to talk to Filson about his platform because the scheduled speakers of the night cut short our conversation. First, someone from the Ruckus Society spoke, but I was too far back and couldn’t really hear. So I moved up to listen to a representative of Equality California, who spoke about landmark California bills for the LGBT community that have passed this year and are now awaiting Schwarzenegger’s signatures, as well as about the anti-LGBT initiatives that will likely be appearing on next year’s ballots. She then urged us to sign postcards calling on Schwarzenegger to sign AB 43, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, which would grant same-sex couples the right to marry. Next, someone from the ACLU of Northern California spoke about various civil liberties issues, focusing on RFID chips that will soon be placed in all forms of government IDs. It’s pretty scary to think about yet another tool being created for the government to track us.
After the speakers finished, I got to chat with others, including a friend I hadn’t seen since high school who was volunteering to help Equality California get postcards signed. I then debated a blogger friend of mine and a friend of his about the Democratic presidential candidates. I’m firmly behind Edwards, but they’re both rooting for Obama. We all agreed that we couldn’t let Hillary win and talked about going to Iowa to help do get out the vote work for our favored candidates.
It was a great night. The bar had a great atmosphere, and it was fun to meet so many varied East Bay young progressives. I definitely plan to be back again in November (I’ll be out of town in October). If you’re interested in joining me and about a hundred other great people, here’s the info:
Every second Thursday of the month
Arsimona’s Bar and Lounge
561 11th St.
Oakland (above Le Cheval)
Join the Mix It Up East Bay Facebook Group