This March, the largest democracy reform conference of the year—the second annual Unrig Summit in Nashville—will bring together political experts, campaign leaders, and grassroots volunteers from across the political spectrum to build a new future for America.
Who will actually be there, and why are they coming? We asked Unrig attendees and presenters "Why They're Attending Unrig" — here's what they had to say.*
MEET OTHER PEOPLE FIGHTING CORRUPTION NATIONWIDE
Alan and his girlfriend Victoria were the first to register for Unrig 2019—and he told us that they are going to “brag about being the first ones for 20 years from now!” They attended the 2018 Summit and were blown away:
“I went up to one of the organizers and I have to say, you guys have absolutely killed this event. All of the different facets of it were well organized—it was so smooth from the participants perspective. I’m looking forward to Unrig 2019 to see an intentional effort to connect all the people—no matter your political stripes.” - Alan Marsh
"I registered because I work in democracy reform, specifically on movement building and the first-in-the-nation Democracy Voucher program. Advocates like me need to connect with other activists regularly to keep motivation and morale up and to plan together. I'm looking forward to seeing fellow democracy reformers and feel that buzz of passion that comes from rooms of like-minded individuals. I hope to share my experiences from Seattle's Democracy Voucher Program, connect with reformers, and learn new ideas for advocacy in my state." - Liz Dupee
“The Unrig Summit is the single best place to chat with other democratic reformers from across the United States.” - J. H. Snider
“I’m going to Unrig Summit 2019 to network with others about how to best achieve reform of the way we structure and finance our federal political system. It's the paramount issue of our time—it goes to the very core of our democracy and representation." - Rick Hubbard
“I attended the first Unrig and learned that all the different organizations working on the reform movement need to communicate and look for opportunities to work together. I believe we need to have this conference each year to ensure solidarity among so many elements of this next movement. We need to increase the participation of conservative leaders at future conferences.” - George Penn
“There is nothing more important right now than engaging with one another for reform solutions to our broken system. As a volunteer consultant with Bridge Alliance, I learned about RepresentUs. I participated in the Unrig summit 2018 by video stream last year and regretted that I didn’t actually attend. This year, I wanted to be among the first to register! We need to build civic engagement into the fabric of our society, and I’m proud to be affiliated with orgs that are doing exactly that.” - Victoria Hattersley
“It's the people, it's the ideas, it's the connections, it's the community. I am looking forward to attending again this year with many of our volunteers from Pennsylvania. Last year's summit strengthened our resolve in our fight for reform in Pennsylvania, and I expect this year will only compound the effect.” - Peter Ouellette
LEARN WHAT THE PROBLEM IS—AND HOW TO FIX IT
Everyone feels the problem—the system is rigged—but fixing it is complex. That’s why we have fun and informative speakers and plenaries to break down the issues.
This year, we’re bringing even more skills-building workshops to turn activists into leaders, and leaders into change agents. You’ll learn how to build the movement, campaign for reforms and public office, and bridge the partisan divide to connect with diverse people on the issues that unite us.
“I went last year. I was intrigued by the idea, and also love New Orleans, so I made plans. I knew it would be a fresh look at the work I do for social justice with Kentuckians for the Commonwealth. But I was completely unprepared for the fantastic conference. SO well organized, so energetic, and the wonderful seminar leaders and keynote speakers blew me away. Every part of every day was educational, and jam-packed with fresh ideas I had not heard elsewhere. I begged them to put it on again, so of course, I was one of the first to get tickets. Can’t wait for round two in Nashville!” - Leslie Bebensee
“I am recently retired and would like focus my energies productively toward the common good. I manage a small journal, the Nonpartisan Education Review, which provides a forum for those not affiliated with the polar vested interests. I am coming to the Unrig Summit to learn. Education policy discussions in the United States are currently controlled by the party-aligned and those not aligned have difficulty being heard. Moreover—and most sadly—the education press is largely aligned with, and funded by, the vested interests. What to do? I'm listening.” - Richard Phelps
“I am a volunteer with Citizens’ Climate Lobby, and I attended Unrig last year as I considered redirecting my activist energy from climate change to democracy reform. It seems we’re never going to make progress on complicated problems like climate change until we fix the political system. I was heartened to see many others like me, people looking at the activism landscape to determine how they could best contribute. I’m coming back to Unrig in 2019 with my husband David to network with other activists, learn more, represent American Promise, and be inspired.” - Ann Drumm
“I attended Unrig in New Orleans last year and loved the presentation, organization, and people I met. This year we will be at Unrig in Nashville representing Citizen Congress Inc., dedicated to passing a Constitutional Amendment to restructure Congress. If ratified, our Amendment would achieve most of the goals of Unrig and RepresentUs. It would end gerrymandering, take lobbyist money out of Congress, add term limits, and create a truly representative government. Hope to meet you at Unrig 2019!" - Dan Barnett
GETTING INSPIRED TO UNRIG THE SYSTEM
When you leave Unrig 2019 in Nashville, you won’t just leave with great new connections and a belly full of BBQ. You’ll leave feeling energized and inspired to bring the movement back home and make a difference in your local communities.
“My name is Nora, I've been volunteering with Represent Pennsylvania and March on Harrisburg to take Pennsylvania from the 5th most corrupt state in the country to the least corrupt! I was privileged enough last year to be able to attend the Unrig Summit and I left feeling energized and ready to take action. I knew right away I needed to come back again.” - Nora Utech
“The U.S. political system has never been a perfect democracy, but over the past two decades, the power of big money interests to change the rules and make the system less responsive to public opinion (and less focused on the common good) has transformed this country into an oligarchy. We need a democracy offensive that starts with cleaning up our political process. A critical mass of activists is required to pull that off. That’s why I went to the first Unrig Summit in New Orleans, and that’s why I’m attending the 2019 Unrig Summit in Nashville” - Phillip Prince
“I attended the Summit last year, learned a lot and came away inspired to do more in my home town of Anchorage Alaska. So I started volunteering for Move To Amend AK and just this fall the Anchorage Assembly passed an ordinance supporting [an amendment to the US constitution to overturn] Citizens United. We are now bringing the fight to the AK State Legislature. Looking forward to an equally inspirational Summit this year!” - Julie Olsen
“My name is Perry Waag and I’m attending the Unrig Summit for my 11-year-old daughter and her generation so that they don’t have to be the ones to fix this mess. One day many years from now, I want to be able to look her in the eye with a clear conscience and be able to tell that her daddy did everything he possibly could to help leave our country better off than he found it.” - Perry Waag
TAKING ACTION: FIGHTING CORRUPTION
Of course, plenty of people are coming for one simple reason—to join the fight to end corruption. For future generations, for important issues, and for democracy, we’re ready to put this movement into overdrive and make lasting change.
“I registered because if you're not part of the solution to fixing our broken system, you're part of the problem. I love this country but hate the corrupt cesspool that has taken hold. My hope is that we can swing the pendulum just as far in the direction of justice and representation.” - Faizal Kassamali
“Why am I attending Unrig Summit 2019? Because the corrupting influence of unlimited political money is at the root of many of our problems. It is destroying our democracy. Serious issues like gun violence and climate warming certainly need attention, but it’s political money (both campaign donations and lobbying) that stops us from attending to these problems. We must restore our democracy and reform our government, so it tends to the desires of our population in general.” - Ed Spire
”I’m thrilled to be attending the Unrig Summit 2019 on behalf of the Coalition for Integrity, a non-profit organization working to promote ethics and transparency in government. I’m hoping to publicize the S.W.A.M.P. Index, a ranking of ethics laws in all the states. Our goal is to enlist grassroots groups, such as local RepresentUs chapters, to improve ethics and transparency laws, as well as to give citizens a set of best practices they could advocate for.” - Laurie Sherman
"Unrig’s a front-runner in: Healing our “democracy” wounded by partisanship favoring the few while disadvantaging the many. Restoring checks and balances in our system of governance (banishing the quotations around “democracy”). Strengthening the trust and consent of the governed while reversing their steady erosion." - John Demma
"With our government in shambles it's all the more important to build community and collaborate with other activists around reforms that are attainable and that can really deliver on our goals. Fair, equal, and accurate elections that represent the people. It shouldn't be this hard! The last 2 years working to get STAR Voting on the map in Oregon changed my life. I want to show the rest of the country what STAR voting is and what it has to offer. In some cases the system is rigged intentionally, but it's also just a flawed design from the get go. We can redesign it so that elections don't play favorites. It's an easy fix." - Sara Wolf
"I'm attending the conference to try to educate attendees about Multi-Winner Ranked Choice Voting (multi-RCV). I want to make sure everyone understands how Multi-RCV ends gerrymandering while at the same time creating equitable representation for people of color and also make it possible for 3rd party candidates to compete by ending the spoiler effect." - Will Menta
“I am going because I am an optimist. The anti-corruption bill appeals to voters, left, right and center. We need to work together and not allow wedge issues to divide us. I think the state by state strategy is a good one. States have been leaders in innovation, I have seen it in my field of early intervention education and inclusion of children with disabilities in regular education. And I’m excited to go to Nashville. I have been wanting to return to Tennessee, where I was born.” - Karen Sheaffer
“To form a more perfect union, a government more like a true democracy, we have to ensure that every citizen has equal and effective opportunities to influence our government. We the People, not special interests. I'm prepared to do my share—and that's why I'll be attending the Unrig Summit in Nashville.” - Steve Shafarman
*some responses edited for clarity and length
Are you ready to be part of the movement? Join us in Nashville March 29-31.
This isn’t your average conference. No boring speeches, no tribal political echo chamber, and no manufactured, clickbait-y controversy. We’re talking real people, real solutions, and a whole lot of fun. The conference is less than three months away, and plenty of attendees are already gearing up to connect with grassroots leaders nationwide.
Tickets are available for individuals and organizations, with discounts for limited income, students, seniors, and locals. It will take all of us together to Unrig our System, and make sure our government works for you and your family—not just a handful of billionaires and special interests.