Craig coffee party struggling forward

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Jim Blevins

If you go

What: Craig coffee party meeting

When: Noon to 2 p.m. Saturday

Where: Serendipity Coffee Shop, 576 Yampa Ave.

— The meeting is open to the public. For more information, call Jim Blevins at 824-4564

Craig coffee party founder Jim Blevins used one word to describe the work he hopes to accomplish through organizing and hosting party meetings with residents.

Understanding.

“I think most people have the idea that it’d be real nice to have a group of people be able to sit down and discuss widely-varying opinions in a friendly, civil manner,” he said. “That is really how you understand what the issues are.”

But, since forming the party in March, attendance at meetings has waned, much to Blevins’ disappointment, he said.

With the primary election approaching, Blevins said the goal of the party takes on added importance.

He hopes discussions facilitated through the party — ranging from national to local topics — will create more informed voters.

The future of the party, however, hinges on residents’ desire to become more informed on a wide range of political issues and opinions, Blevins said.

And, in a county voter statistics indicate is primarily Republican, achieving the level of participation Blevins hopes for “remains to be seen,” he said.

The coffee party was founded on a national level in early 2010, and according to the party’s website, about 15,500 people have taken an online civility pledge to “conduct myself in a way that is civil, honest, and respectful toward people with whom I disagree.”

Blevins started a Craig chapter of the party because of the disparity between the two major political parties in the U.S.

“I don’t see any end coming to the polarization for the foreseeable future,” he said. “At some point, yes, (but) I think we are more likely to end up with a civil war than we are agreement at any time in the near future.”

Blevins contends there are not just two answers to political questions, but rather a full spectrum of answers that should be examined.

“I think we have gotten to the point where the two parties mostly don’t talk to each other and don’t understand each other,” he said. “I think it would be highly desirable to understand those points of views.”

Craig resident Ken Wergin, who has attended several coffee party meetings, said he also hopes to keep the party alive.

“I think it has a really good basis for being able to (make) people more knowledgeable on the issues,” he said.

Wergin said the largest hurdle the party faces is getting people interested in government.

“They’ve got a one issue type of thing and to discuss that is good, but people need to have knowledge about the government so that they are voting well,” he said.

Wergin said he thinks many people avoid getting involved with governmental issues due to their complexity, he said.

“They’ll opt out to just voting the party or voting (based) on what nice hair he’s got or she’s got, or whatever, and that is not a very good basis for government,” he said.

But, Wergin contends the coffee party can help.

“I want to be a strong voter, not a strong Republican,” he said. “And I think that is what the coffee party should be doing is being open to issues.”

Blevins said the coffee party might have been founded in a favorable time considering political lines between sections of Northwest Colorado are blurring with population expansion and residents commuting between areas.

“If you are isolated, you can have some pretty extreme view points and there is not going to be anyone around to contradict you,” he said. “But, if your next door neighbor is talking to people of a very different view point on a daily basis, then inevitably you are going to change some of your view points.”

Blevins hopes that by building attendance at coffee party meetings, residents will spread the word.

“If we end up with some people that understand both sides of the question, and they talk to other people, it is likely to have a very significant effect,” he said.

The coffee party will host its next meeting from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday at Serendipity Coffee Shop, 576 Yampa Ave.

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