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UMD MPIRG Students Organize

UMD Students Organize Free Democracy Summit

Every Monday a group of around 50 University of Minnesota Duluth students meet to prepare an event to be held April 22-24. Organized by the University of Minnesota Duluth's chapter of the Minnesota Public Interest Group (MPIRG), the summit sets out to explore and inspire citizen participation in American democracy and grassroots activism. This year's summit is focused on interpreting what Thomas Jefferson famous phrase: “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” means to individual citizens.

This year's lineup of speakers includes Jim Hightower, a New York Times best selling author and promoter of grassroots politics. Also set to speak is Dr. Steven Miles, Minnesota Monthly's Minnesotan of the year and first person to document military health care workers' involvement in the tortures of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay detainees. In addition, Mark Ritchie, executive director of the institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy in Minneapolis will be speaking. The heart of the Free Democracy Summit is its informative and empowering panels and workshops. For this year's summit over 20 panels and workshops are scheduled. In keeping with this year's theme, panels and workshops have been divided into three groups: live, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. `Life' issues will include among other things: poverty, homelessness, and health care. Panels investigating `liberty' will include: trade issues, the patriot and freedom of information act and media reform. A variety of workshops will explore what `the pursuit of happiness' means to citizens.

The Free Democracy Summit hopes to use art as a way of inspiring and enlightening its attendees. Throughout the summit weekend there will be a variety of music and visual art events. Galleries in Duluth will showcase local and regional artists' political and socially charged art. A photo contest with cash prizes is also planned. Contestants are asked to submit pictures that answer the question: what does democracy mean to you? Additionally, each night local and regional bands will play Duluth venues. A variety of genres from rock, punk, jazz, and folk will be performing.

For information see:

or contact: David Smith <>

Posted April 13, 2005

Cheryl Reitan, Publications Director,
NEW RELEASES, UMD media contact, Susan Beasy Latto,, 218-726-8830



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