Netroots Nation event ends with call for unity

The several thousand strong Netroots Nation conference ended in Austin Texas on Sunday with a rousing presentation by Van Jones of Green for All who endorsing Al Gore's call for a 10 year plan ending US use of non-renewable energy called for a New Deal approach to aggressively achieving it. Jones urged novel and creative approaches to solving the energy crisis with green jobs. 'We cannot drill and burn our way out of this problem. If we do, we will burn this planet.' 'We can say no, we're not going to drill and burn out way out. We're going to invent and invest our way out,' said Jones as reported by Kate Sheppard of Grist.com. Jones had just returned from a trip to the Antarctica with Tom Dashle and Jimmy Carter.

Jones said the emerging new progressive majority had to prepare for governing. “The challenge here for you is that you have to figure out a way … to go from opposition to proposition, from protest to governance.

The four day conference featured dozens of panel discussions that ranged emerging health care trends on line to “Black Bloggin Beyond Obama” which centered on keeping the conversation on race alive after Obama is elected. David Sheih of the Austin Statesmen wrote that this panel, organized by Leutisha Stills of the Congressional Black Caucus Monitor Report Card urged bloggers to fight against complacency.

A labor panel stressed the need for deeper cooperation between the labor movement and bloggers based on common interests. Jason Lefkowitz, Change to Win Online Organizer said that Netroots represented a new way for labor to organize and get its word out. “We believe that Netroots is forming a new communication infrastructure for the progressive movement and labor is at the core of the progressive movement.” Lefkowitz said labor had to fine tune its message to bloggers, “We have to find ways to make our issues relevant to bloggers, help them see how these things are important.” The basis for doing this, he continued is that “unions are about collective action, which is something progressives believe in at the core of their philosophy.”

This sentiment was echoed by Stephanie Taylor of SEIU. “One of the beautiful things about the netroots movement is that there is a new way to empower ordinary folk to make change and to give them the the tools that they need to go up against big money to go up against corporate interests and take America back for working people.”

The AFL-CIO's Seth Michaels reported that:

At Thursday’s Netroots Nation Labor Caucus, more than 40 communicators and other activists from across the union movement—unions of the AFL-CIO, Change to Win and the National Education Association participated—and outside the union movement got together to talk about working family issues and how to engage the netroots around them.

Labor Caucus participants agreed the first step is to make sure this community is united behind the Employee Free Choice Act, which would level the playing field for workers seeking to form unions.'

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Saturday stressed imperative of defeating Bush. “The power of the White House is huge and the unity that we must have is essential. So we cannot afford the luxury of 'my person didn't win and therefore, I'm less enthusiastic'”.

The 2009 Netroots Nation conference will be in Pittsburgh during August.