The Obama Foundation Summit offered Democrats a chance to escape the realty of Donald Trump’s presidency but doing yoga and writing down their hopes for the country in sidewalk chalk.
The summit, held in Chicago Wednesday to commemorate the launch of the Obama Foundation, attracted prominent Democratic politicians, fundraisers and celebrities, some of whom told Politico the event was “therapeutic” and represented a “sanity bubble.”
After participating in a morning yoga and meditation session to begin the day, attendees were offered the opportunity to attend break out sessions with titles such as “The Adventure of Civility” and “Who Narrates the World?.” In one such session participants were encouraged to write down what they were hopeful for on a chalk board. Answers included “we speak better and listen,” “Americans will see each other,” “my nephews can escape toxic masculinity,” according to Politico.
After the therapeutic exercises, author Anand Giridharadas regaled the crowd with an opening speech, in which he asked pressing questions such as “Is there space among the woke for the still-waking?” and spoke of the “magic” of connectivity.
The upbeat two-day event included no discussion of contemporary political issues and attendees invoked the phrase “the President” to refer to former President Barack Obama.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama took to the stage Wednesday to provide some specifics regarding the mission of the Obama Presidential Center, a project of the Obama Foundation, explaining that the center will bring art, music and creativity to the residents of Chicago.
The mission of the broader Obama Foundation remains somewhat obscure, and the opening summit included little in the way of concrete details. Rather, Obama told the crowd that he saw the summit as a “big brainstorming session.”
“Our goal is not to present some fixed theory of how change happens,” Obama told participants in his opening address. “Our goal is not … to pump you with a whole bunch of power point, data and a blueprint for how you are going to go back and do the stuff you’re already doing even better. Because, in many ways, we want to learn from you as much as we want to share what we’ve learned.”
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