It’s Coffee Time: Doug Griffiths arrives in Living Rooms across Alberta

Okay – I admit it. I had never been to a coffee party before May 5, 2011. It seems to me that the era of the coffee party was a bit before my time. I’ve heard the days of the coffee party praised by board members from both Calgary Shaw and Calgary Foothills. Many claiming that that was the way Premier Lougheed won – that was how they met him – and that is how they knew he was a great leader.

There is something about coming into someone’s home, being on their turf, and embracing their friends, their neighbours and their community. It’s the principle of breaking bread together but in this case it’s sipping coffee. I laughed when I saw some comments on a Facebook photo Chris Harper posted of a coffee party he hosted this past week – his friends were amazed that a PC leadership candidate would come over to his house just to talk to his friends. It really is the simple things that amaze people the most.

And a coffee party is a very simple thing.

There is nothing to know about a coffee party before you have one. Nothing to learn. No membership to buy. No prerequisites. No expectations.

A coffee party is whatever you want it to be. It’s a passionate Albertan coming to talk to, get to know and share their vision with other passionate Albertans. A coffee party is what comes to my mind when I think of the term grassroots engagement. It’s literally invite your friends – gather them in your living room – listen to a visionary – ask questions – mingle.

My favourite part? The questions! That’s when you see people truly engaging. The questions are when you find out what makes your neighbours tick and what has been on their mind. It’s when you find out that many of us are passionate about the same things and want the same things for Alberta’s future. The questions are what get a room excited. And the answers to those questions are what keeps the room excited and triggers a desire to purchase a PC membership and get involved in the process – at least that’s what is happening at coffee parties featuring Griff.

I may be biased but Doug Griffiths’ strength is certainly in the coffee party. It’s no secret that he is passionate about people and communities. Without strong communities we cannot build a better Alberta together. In a room full of new friends his excitement about Alberta’s future is clear. He is personable, thoughtful and enthusiastic. You can tell he feels right at home in the living rooms of his volunteers and supporters – why? Because that is the kind of man he is. When he has the day off work he is hanging out in the living rooms of his family and friends. That’s where he watches his boys grow up, that’s where he invites his friends to watch the game and that’s where he hammers out his vision for Alberta.

Doug wants to get to as many Albertan living rooms in the next several months as possible. He wants to come to you … not make you come to him. He wants to build a better province … and he knows he can’t do that alone. Every community is different, every group of people gathered will be different but we are all passionate about Alberta and passionate about making it the best it can be today and for future generations.

So why don’t you have a coffee party? The latest people to sign up for coffee parties in Calgary? My parents! Lisa Mackintosh’s friends. A new supporter who DM’ed us on Twitter. And an incredible 70-something women I met at Chris Harper’s coffee party for Griff. She is so excited. She told me that it isn’t time for change in this province … it’s time for the next generation to step up and take their place in Alberta … and that place is in leadership roles. She told me that the last time she was this excited is when she attend a similar gathering for Premier Lougheed decades ago.

Everything old is new again. Why? Because Alberta has realized the importance of the community, of personal connections and that the only way we can advance this province is if we advance it together.

If you want to have a coffee party email the campaign or even just reply to this blog post. We will get you in touch with the right people and do our best to get Doug into your living room.

Remember, there is no right or wrong way to have a coffee party. Political engagement is personal – it’s flexible – it’s simple. Doug Griffiths’ coffee parties are political engagement.

Can’t wait to have a coffee with you in your living room and watch your neighbours get excited about our next PC Leader, Doug Griffiths.

CR xo

Honolulu Marathon 2010: The Real Runners, MLA Len Webber & his daughter Lauren

What do Alberta politicians and their families do over the holidays? Well lots of things – the Webber family decided to honor the memory of their wife and mother by running the Honolulu Marathon.

Len Webber is the MLA for Calgary-Foothills, the Minister of Aboriginal Relations and a passionate advocate for his community. He is always willing to give time to his constituents, board members, and friends. He is a natural leader, mentor and incredible father. Len makes the best out of every situation. He is passionate about staying fit and his road to fitness is an inspiring one. His story, in his own words, starts here:

As you may know, my more active lifestyle really began when I inherited my wife Heather’s 4 year old Labrador-Golden Retriever after her passing. I started out with half hour walks with “Lucy” when I realized that her rambunctious energy and love for getting out running told me that half hour walks were just not going to cut it. I had to graduate to slow jogs to keep up to Lucy and give her the exercise she deserves. You have to understand, I was not a runner then, in fact, I hated running and would avoid it at any cost.

In time, 45 minute slow jogs evolved into 1 hour faster paced runs. Again, in time we averaged 10km an hour with goals of getting faster and going farther. When we reached about 11km per hour, I noticed Lucy was now lagging behind me and I would at times have to stop and wait for her to get caught up.

I’ve been working out hard here at the gym here in Puerto Vallarta over my time off and running one hour every morning plus many reps and sets of weights. I’m feeling fitter and stronger than I have in decades, and my energy level has skyrocketed! My resolution is to continue a regimented fitness routine in the New Year. I will attempt to run the 42 km Honolulu Marathon again next December, with a goal of finishing it in less than 4 hours.

‎My first marathon this December in Honolulu was far more difficult than I had ever imagined. I was on pace for an under 4 hour finish when my calves started cramping around the 22 mile point, where I had to stop and stretch, and it was friggin hot! I ended up finishing at 4.5 hours, which I was not happy with (exactly double the time of first place finisher from Kenya at 2 hrs, 15 mins)! I learned a lot about what I must do next time, with regard to nutrition and dehydration during a run in a hot climate. Will be more prepared next marathon! 🙂

Len

Lauren Webber is just as inspiring as her father. She is the President of the Students’ Union at the University of Calgary, star student, incredible example to her peers, and never stops smiling. She is a leader, and I am confident her influence will only grow as she does. She is a face of the future for this province and I couldn’t be more proud to call her a friend.

Lauren’s experience of the race is not unlike her dad’s. Her example of perseverance and her determination to finish the race on behalf of her mom is inspiring. And who better could capture Len’s experience then his own daughter that ran the race with him. Her words start here:

A marathon, 42.195 kilometers, 26 miles or 385 yards is a distance particular humans feel necessary to run as a road race to accomplish something in their life.

My mom was one of those extraordinary humans – always someone who wanted that huge challenge. She participated as a Warrior with the Cancervive Peloton to Austin, Texas in 2007, and in 2008 found herself doing the Rocky thrust on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum, at a Livestrong event where she met cycling great and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong.

Even though her cancer had reoccurred tenfold in 2010, she had always wanted to run the Honolulu Marathon and invited friends and family to train with her in December of that year. Despite her intense determination not to let cancer get the better of her, by the time the marathon rolled around she wasn’t healthy enough even walk the course. Still, she insisted on being there to cheer on the 20 friends, who called themselves “Heather’s Honolulu Hopefuls” as they crossed the finish line.

My mom lived by “putting things on the books.” She always wanted me to travel, constantly be busy with fun challenges because life, especially in her case, is way too short. So, a few weeks after her funeral, that’s exactly what my dad and I did. We planned something big and planned something exciting down the road (literally).

She had always wanted to finish a marathon, so my dad and I were going to finish it for her.

2010 seems like a blur to be honest. It had been an unbelievably insane year with Presidential work and traveling and family life, so training was the easiest thing to push aside. I was very nervous leading up to the run… even though I knew I had completed several of the ‘long’ training runs with some of my friends from the University team, the furthest distance had been about 2.5 hours or 30km… And I honestly thought I’d die after those..

The morning of the race Dec.12, 2010 started out great actually, the amount of people there are is probably 100 times the crowd at the Calgary Stampede parade. Fireworks marked the start of the clock and we were off at 5am.  The first 10km felt great, even at the half-marathon mark, things were a little stiff – but the adrenaline, high glycogen from all the high cal ‘astronaught food’ we’d strapped to our bodies and true camaraderie between runners on the course kept us moving.

Everyone tells you about the legendary, infamous ‘hitting the wall’. I didn’t think it would happen because our teammates had been so encouraging to each other and I had stayed well hydrated but I definitely hit a wall at about the 40km mark. It was about 9am now and 28 degrees Celsius, pulling teeth would have been more pleasant. Every single muscle in your body is screaming at you to stop, deep cramping kicks in, crying ensues and it takes everything in you not to begin crawling… It was the most physically excruciating feeling I have and ever will endure. Sounds fun hey? I can remember it so distinctly, even exactly where I was on the course. I felt angry with myself that perhaps if I had just trained harder, or ate healthier or didn’t have that beer at the Den a month ago, this wouldn’t be happening. I tried to distract myself from the pain, talking, drinking water, looking at the most beautiful oceanfront scenery in the world, when for some reason a documentary on Terry Fox surfaced in my mind.

Terry Fox was 22 when he passed away, the same age as I am now. For 142 days straight he ran 26 miles per day. He ran a full marathon distance, every single day, crossing 3,000 miles until he was forced to stop. I have two perfectly working legs, only would run a marathon once and wasn’t being forced to stop by anything. I had only 2.19 kilometers left and my self-pity quickly withered away. It began to sprinkle rain and it was the best feeling in the world. Churchill once said, “If you are going through hell, keep going.” He was so right.

At 1km left you can see the finish line just meters away. I started bawling my eyes out because I couldn’t believe I was so close and was going to finish this audacious, looming goal I had committed to 9 months prior. It was done and we got a lay of seashells around our neck by the gorgeous Hawaiian natives greeting us at the finish. I walked to a picnic table under a huge Canadian flag our team hung the day prior and we ate chips and coca-cola to get our salt and sugars restored. It was glorious. The best and most surreal feeling, I still sometimes find it hard to believe that my dad and I RAN an entire marathon.

I wish my mom could’ve done it with us but I know she was there and I’m so grateful she inspired us to do something like that. It is entirely a therapeutic escape and great time all to yourself.

My dad has already signed up for another Marathon; I’m so proud of him and it makes me so happy that amongst sadness, something like this has positively changed his life.

Lauren

Thanks so much Lauren and Len. Thank you for inspiring PCinYYC and for reminding us what life is all about. We are proud to call you friends and leaders of the PCAA.

CR xo

Saturday Night Alive with Host Len Webber

To date, this blog has focussed on the exciting municipal election which, starting tomorrow, will drastically change life in our beautiful city no matter which candidate wins.  But the longer-term premise behind our blog is life as a provincially involved political couple.  PCinYYC is about Peter and Christina – Progressive Conservatives; political commentators; and proud Canadians – in Calgary.

Last night, we were proud to be PC in YYC!

As President of the Calgary Foothills PC Association I am extremely biased when I tell you that our fundraiser last night was a resounding success.  But Saturday Night Alive with Host Len Webber received great reviews.  And I have been to enough fundraising events in my life to know when something feels like it worked out.

But the real story behind this event is about people – an incredible group of volunteers, fantastic performers, a friendly, diverse crowd and Len Webber.

No matter what your political stripe, if you have met Len Webber you know that he is one of the kindest, most caring and truly special people you will ever meet.  I can write a whole blog about Len, but suffice it to say that I am President of his board out of sheer respect.  He is soooooooo easy to support!

Len and Peter “Weekend Update”

I strongly believe in karma.  And my gut tells me that everything good flows from Len’s captivating humanistic qualities.  I think this is why the volunteers on the Calgary Foothills PC Association Board are such a great group of people.   They all believe in and care for Len.

Last night was extra special because PC Party President, Bill Smith, joined us to present the 2010 Alberta PC Party Volunteer of the Year Award to our most beloved volunteer – Mary Davis.   I am so thrilled that Mary Davis won this award.  The story she told us about why she volunteers for the PC party is powerful.  The amount of time and effort she gives proves her sincerity.  Watching Mary accept that award and listening to her story made me incrediblyproud to be an Alberta Progressive Conservative.

Mary Davis accepts PC Volunteer of the Year Award

While Mary’s contribution was invaluable, last night took the effort and good will of a lot of people.  My hat is off to the fundraising committee, co-chaired by Lou Winthers and Joan Black.  The work put in by every person on this committee contributed to the night’s success.  And it was a ton of work.  The Committee wanted something different from your standard political event and I’m confident every person there felt they got that.

Taking in unforgettable Aboriginal Entertainment

We did a spoof of Saturday Night Live, complete with guests, performances, a “weekend update” and Nitelife – the Saturday Night Alive band.  I can’t believe how well it all worked out.  Len was the host and I was the MC.  We were unrehearsed, which made the “show” that much more fun.  

I think back to Len running around the stage looking for the Aboriginal performers.  That was a great moment in the evening.  Who can forget the little aboriginal girl entertaining the crowd with her balloons while her elders, dressed in their impressive garb, sang beautiful traditional songs about their heritage and their connection to the earth?  She was so precious.  The round dance, the Honour song that our friends from Treaty 7 played for Len, and the words and symbols of respect that were shared between everybody there was really special.  As an added touch, each guest received a dream catcher that was hand made by a volunteer from the Stardale Group.  I think the committee did an excellent job celebrating Len’s portfolio and including so many wonderful people from the Aboriginal community.  I was so honoured to be sitting with Elder Ruby Eagle Child and Michaela Wight from Stardale Group.  I was also honoured to be sitting with @crontynen but that should go without saying J.

Traditional Aboriginal Dance

Once the Aboriginal performances ended, we had about 45 minutes with comedian Jebb Fink.  He was bang on.  He gave us a delightful mix of planned jokes and improv, as well as political satire and his social commentary.  He was a real pro and the perfect addition to the night.  He had the crowd laughing at every joke he said and eagerly participating in his program.  It was awesome!

Jebb Fink

The evening concluded with music from the Saturday Night Alive band, Nitelife.  While they didn’t get to play a long set, they had people dancing from the first song.  Guests on the dance floor were having a good time – you could tell.  The band has a significant Calgary Foothills connection through their bass player, Don Wilson, a Past President and current Board Member.  What a perfect ending to a perfect evening.  I would recommend Nitelife for any event.

Friends, that was the night as I saw it.  I had a lot of fun.  The guests had fun and think Len enjoyed himself too.  Saturday Night Alive with Host Len Webber was a humanistic night for a really great person, and I am so proud that I was able to be a part of it.  I would like to thank the 250 plus guest that shared the night with us.  I would like to thank our sponsors and donors for their generous contributions.  I would like to thank @crontynen for being such an amazing partner and supporter of mine.  And I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this post.

Last night confirms why I belong to the PC Party – the people.  We are a Party of people from all walks of life but we know how to come together.  We know how to support each other and we know how to have fun.  We are progressive and conservative, pragmatic and compassionate.     The PC party is me (P) and C in YYC.

Peter and Christina

PP