For the last four years, I have been able to attend some of the most intellectually stimulating conferences around the country because the church I work at (and community I am a part of) values the continuing of my education. I have been able to learn about economics and how to be a better grassroots organizer in our nation's capital, studied adolescent development in Sacramento with fellow youth workers, and learned about immigration in Tijuana while staying with recently deported migrants. This year, I attended Sojourners' Mobilization to End Poverty (M2EP) in Washington DC. I am a firm believer that a good conference experience includes three components: education, experience, and fun. The following entries are from my trip at the end of April 2009.
For the last few weeks I have been training for the infamous Bend area Pole Pedal Paddle competition. The race takes place on may 16th and is a relay of sorts that starts off with a downhill ski to cross country ski to bike to 10K run to paddle on the river to sprint. To see a more detailed description of the race check out my teammate Nole's blog here. I will be running the 10K, hopping in a canoe with Nole to paddle, and closing out the race by jumping out of the canoe and sprinting to the finish.
Since I am in DC for 5 days, I have to make sure to continue with my training while here. The other morning I went for an incredible run from the Smithsonian to the Washington Monument, around the National Mall and finished with a dramatic climb up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
Running in DC is incredible.
Reason #1: Elevation
I felt like a superhero because my lungs are used to running at 3,600 feet above sea level...therefore I ran a lot longer than ever before.
Reason #2: Sights
With so much to look at- monuments, people, cherry blossoms, etc...one cannot help but be distracted from the task at hand. I am a firm believer that the sport of running is 90% psychological...in other words, I'll take all of the dirstractions I can get!
Reason #3: Musical Reflection
While running along the Reflection Pool, I couldn't help but think of all of the great protests that have taken place on the very ground I stepped on. I decided it fitting to listen to Rage Against the Machine's first album while I ran.
+Notable moments included listening to the words "all of which are American dreams," from the song Know Your Enemy while staring down the Monument dedicated to our founding father George Washington.
+ Listening to Wake Up while catching a breather and walking by the Vietnam Memorial...the words of Zack de la Rocha ringing in my ear...
"Movements come and movements go Leaders speak, movements cease When their heads are flown 'Cause all these punks Got bullets in their heads Departments of police, the judges, the feds Networks at work, keepin' people calm You know they went after King When he spoke out on Vietnam He turned the power to the have-nots And then came the shot"
+and finally, climbing the steps of the Lincoln Memorial drenched in sweat while hearing the chorus of the album's final track Freedom. When I got to the top my eyes met President Lincoln's for the second verse...I turned around walked down a few steps, looked out upon the reflection pool and saw the following at my feet- "I Have a Dream." Engraved in the marble, the words of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr...delivered here over 40 years ago.
I stood there out of breath and full of emotion. Freedom indeed.