NWFCO Leaders Respond to the Heartland Forum

By Guest Columnist Dec 06, 2007

contributed by NWFCO When it came time to address presidential candidates at the Heartland Forum in Iowa, grassroots leaders from the Northwest turned out. Here’s what two leaders from the Washington Community Action Network had to say: Attending the forum was an incredibly eye opening experience for me. I was able to meet people from different parts of the country and all through out the conversations I had with these community leaders the themes remained the same; immigration reform, health care, lending practices. One very interesting conversation I had with a caucasian woman from Wyoming touched on a subject very close to home for me: groundwater pollution and clean up efforts. Not too far from my residence, an oil company is currently in the process of a clean-up effort that was enforced by local officials. She was not as lucky in Wyoming. The big interests there are turning a deaf ear to her community’s plight. In addition to the environmental issue, the current state of fear among undocumented immigrants in my community resonates just as strongly all the way in Albany, New York. The issues are the same for all of us and touches all communites alike. In seeing the large number of attendess at the forum I became even more hopeful as I noticed that we all carry the same passion for the issues. We are not afraid to have our voices be heard by these politicians and that is the first step in finding a resolution. –Maribel Peralez The first thing I thought when I learned I was going to Iowa was: it’s going to be cold. I packed two sets of thermal underwear, corduroy pants, two sweaters, a sweatshirt, two pairs of gloves, and a hat. So I was ready to hear what people from all over the country had to say to the candidates. And everyone, no matter where they were coming from, was concerned about basic things like health care and wages. After it was all done, we talked about the candidates and what they had to say – that was wonderful, although one thing that disappointed me was the candidates themselves. There was a lot of diversity, but Native Americans should have been more included. In order for anything to really happen, we have to come together – not just talk, but work. Whoever is elected president needs to hear us. We have to put our best foot forward and see what needs to be done in our communities, our cities, our counties, our states, and the federal government. –Minnie B. West