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Valley Operation Democracy groups foster progressive politics at local level

SNOQUALMIE - Linda Rubin of Snoqualmie is not excited about where the country is heading, but she believes a small handful of people in the Valley can help change that.

Last month, she started Snoqualmie Citizens for Change, a group fostered by Operation Democracy. Operation Democracy, part of the liberal political action committee MoveOn, is a network of community-based progressive groups. According to the Operation Democracy Web site, there are more than 2,800 such groups across America.

One of them was a group in Fall City (called MoveOn Fall City) that held a meeting Rubin attended. Rubin liked what she saw and wanted to get something started in her new community. Her family moved to Snoqualmie about a year ago, so seeking out like-minded individuals was not only a good way to make change, but a great way to meet neighbors.

"I like the idea of people working together in a community," she said.

Rubin started the group after getting tired of being upset while watching the news. Rather than just talking about how bad things were or how things should be changed, Rubin said she wanted to see some action backing up the words.

"There is an ongoing perception that progressives are people who just complain," she said. "I wanted to be part of something that had a positive, progressive message."

Rubin was also drawn to the localized aspect of the group. There are regional organizers Rubin can go to for guidance, but the group is truly formed at the community level. Rather than someone coming in from Washington D.C. to direct the group, the Snoqualmie Citizens for Change organize themselves and decide among themselves how to best effect political change.

Part of that change is preparing for upcoming elections. The next presidential election is still three years away, but Rubin said it is never too early to start preparing. There are plenty of Congressional and local races in between and Rubin's group has already been active, including a letter-writing campaign to comment on Rep. Dave Reichert's policies toward drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

The group is less than a month old, but it's already held an event that drew a good response. On Oct. 26, about 20 people attended a vigil held in Snoqualmie for American soldiers who have died in Iraq. Similar vigils were held across the country to commemorate the 2,000th soldier lost in the war.

It wasn't a huge turnout, but for a group that just started it was an encouraging beginning.

"We are in our infancy," Rubin said.

While Snoqualmie Citizens for Change is based in Snoqualmie, Rubin said the group is open to, and gets some support from, other communities in the Valley.

"We've had people from North Bend and Carnation involved," Rubin said.

Snoqualmie Citizens for Change, like all the Operation Democracy groups, is looking to make some big changes, but Rubin hopes she can, at the very least, show her 3-year-old son what it means to be involved. She said she wants to make a better future for her son, and that is the best reason she can think of to be politically active.

"Anything you believe in strongly is important to do," Rubin said.

* The next meeting of Snoqualmie Citizens for Change will be at 2 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 13, at the North Bend library, 115 E. Fourth St. For more information on Operation Democracy, visit www.operationdemocracy.org.

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