Restoring the American Dream: A Community Conversation on Big Money, Inequality and the Average Voter

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The University of Washington Tacoma’s Center for the Study of Community and Society will host a one-day workshop entitled “Restoring the American Dream: A Community Conversation on Big Money, Inequality and the Average Voter.”

The workshop will be held at Tacoma Public Library’s Olympic Room, 1102 Tacoma Ave S., on October 11, 2014, starting at 10 a.m.

The keynote speaker is Mark McDermott, an activist who works for economic, social and racial justice. McDermott has held several governmental positions representing the concerns of working people. He tours extensively around the country, speaking at labor union conferences and on college campuses. In his talk, he will describe the history of “the dream” and how Americans have had to fight to be at the table of democracy since the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence. He will tell the story of the way citizens have organized for civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights, unions and labor movements to create change for a better democracy. His presentation is filled with personal experiences. He will be joined by volunteers trained to facilitate group conversations that culminate in community action.

The event grows out of a study group held last year focusing on Pulitzer-Prize-winning author Hedrick Smith’s book Who Stole the American Dream. The group developed into the Tacoma Restore the American Dream (RAD) team, whose mission is “to energize and activate students, non-profit representatives, government officials and citizens.”

Diane Tilstra, Community Action Advisor at UW Tacoma’s Center for the Study of Community and Society, outlined the national context in which the workshop takes place. “America is waking up to the fact that the foundation of our democracy has weakened. The middle class of America is disappearing. There are too few people controlling the resources and opportunities for jobs and education. The American Dream will be lost for working people, including immigrants and people of color, if we do not act now. The future of America depends on every community’s engagement and empowerment,” said Tilstra.

In addition to the keynote lecture by Mark McDermott, the workshop will feature a series of roundtable discussions regarding issues such as money in politics and its effect on unbiased representation; fair wages and labor unions; training and educational opportunities; and justice and immigration policies.

The Tacoma RAD Team is planning a follow-up event in early 2015.

Join us!

What: Restoring the American Dream – A Community Conversation on Big Money, Inequality and the Average Voter – lecture and workshop
Who: Keynote speaker Mark McDermott, economic, social and labor activist and speaker
When: October 11, 2014, 10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Where: Olympic Room, Tacoma Public Library – Main Library, 1102 Tacoma Ave., S., Tacoma, Wash.
Cost: $5 – tickets at

Event presented by UW Tacoma Center for the Study of Community and Society
Supported by Tacoma Public Library Tacoma Reads

Also supported by:

  • Sound Policy Institute at University of Puget Sound
  • William Factory Small Business Incubator
  • Faith Action Network
  • Post Defiance AIDS Project / North American Syringe Exchange Network
  • Tacoma Community House
  • UW Tacoma Office of Equity and Diversity
  • Centro Latino
  • Tacoma Urban League
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
  • American Association of University Women Tacoma
Written by: 
John Burkhardt / September 18, 2014
Media contact: 

Deborah Allen, 253-678-3199,