"The most important thing that we can do is to educate people," says Chuck Sher, cofounder of the Petaluma Progressives. "Educate people so that they have the information and inspiration to fight the good fight. My hope is that people will come and learn more about how our world works and be motivated to do something about it."
Sher is discussing the 13th annual Progressive Festival, produced by the Petaluma Progressives, which takes place on Sept. 26 at Petaluma's Walnut Park. The event is sponsored by KPFA 94.1-FM, the Committee for Immigrant Rights and the Peace and Justice Center of Sonoma County.
Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and Mendocino County local Alice Walker makes her first appearance at the event. Walker will read from her most recent collection of poetry, Hard Times Require Furious Dancing.
Sher considers the afternoon gathering an opportunity to assemble like-minded community members, to hear world-class speakers discuss their experiences and for community members to support each other toward a positive progressive action.
"We need to be organized in order to make our needs and our priorities heard," Sher says.
The Progressive Festival features speakers discussing topics ranging from foreign affairs and civil resistance to climate protection and immigration. Selected speakers include author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death Normon Solomon; peak oil theorist Richard Heinberg; Iraq War veteran and cofounder of March Forward Mike Prysner; Janet Kobren, a participant in the humanitarian convoy to Gaza; SSU associate professor Mike Prysner; and Phoenix Theater director Tom Gaffey. Representatives from Project Censored, Code Pink, Not My Priorities, Committee for Immigrant Rights, Go Local and other groups will also be there. In all, some 50 organizations are tabling the fest.
"It's very important to see that other people are spending their life energy to help out the common cause here. I even know some Republicans who are coming," Sher says. The Petaluma Progressives meets the first Wednesday of every month, and Sher hopes that interested individuals will contact him to join the fellowship of liberal thinkers.
Musical act CantaFlor performs music from Troubadours of the Latin American New Song Movement at the festival. Olembe Nguebari will perform from his album Conscious Hip-Hop.
"We're happy to be a facilitator of people meeting each other and inspiring each other," Sher says.
The Petaluma Progressive Festival takes place on Sunday, Sept. 26, at Walnut Park. Petaluma Boulevard South and D Street, downtown Petaluma. Free. Noon to 5pm. 707.763.8134.