Out of a seat, but still in the game

Editor’s Note: “Our woman at the DNC,” Jessica Coates, is sending real-time observations and tweets (@jessicalcoates) to the Carrboro Commons and Durham VOICE. Coates is a rising senior at South Mecklenburg High School and a future journalism major at UNC-CH.


By Jessica Coates
Special Correspondent
The Durham VOICE and Carrboro Commons

Weds. Sept. 5

First of all, I have bad news to share with you; news that I’m sure you’re already cognizant of. Because of the malevolent and relentless rain in Charlotte this week, DNC staff have had to move President Obama’s speech to Time Warner Cable Arena, which is a much smaller location.

Therefore, over 65,000 eager supporters have lost their access credentials–including myself. I am working my way through the five stages of grief, but right now I’m still far from reaching acceptance. However, I will still be at the Charlotte Observer for part of tomorrow afternoon, so I will try to observe as much as I can from my now-limited vantage point.

But let’s focus on today. I spent my afternoon at Davidson College, where a green energy panel was assembled to discuss what the future may hold for it. Panelists included Vincent Davis, of Duke Energy; Eric Spiegel, of German-energy-giant Siemens AG; and Anthony Foxx, mayor of Charlotte. Each portrayed their intended support of plans to investigate alternate energy sources and of doing the best we can right now. Sound byte, sound byte. But the real fun began when they began accepting questions from the audiences.

The first woman up came close to tears as she begged the three men in power to do more than the small measures they were advocating, because “only small changes don’t fit the magnitude of crisis.” She was followed by several extremely well-read college and graduate students of Davidson, who really had just gone up to nail every inconsistency that had been spoken and to make the important men squirm. Then, at the apparent climax of the event, a woman came up with a homemade pie chart that showed the amount of money Duke put into each type of resource; nuclear power took up 50 percent, and coal took 30 percent. We all watched anxiously at Davis of Duke Power, who proceeded to grudgingly confirm that her statistics were accurate. Pure gold.

This, in my opinion, is why having the DNC nearby is so wonderful. Although the traffic is terrible, and the persistence of the street vendors is worse, having the epitome of the democratic process in such proximity is making ordinary citizens feel empowered. The big guys are being forced to listen, because the press expects it, and the little people are taking every advantage of it. This is how change occurs, how progress is made. Although it’s nice to cheer for a candidate and thinking that he’ll solve all of your problems, I find it more encouraging to think that we can “be the change we wish to see in the world.”

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