What is the Red Boot Coalition? A group of people committed to change. The mission is to unabashedly and courageously bring joy, compassion, love, vulnerability, unity, humility, reflection and strength to the United States political system. How do we do that? Good question. 
Strong, Joyful. Heart-driven. Authentic. Compassionate. Reflective. Genuine. Whole, Innovative. All words that describe Red Booters. Red Booters don’t have to wear their boots to be noticed. It is a pervasive attitude. However, I hope to someday have my own pair of sassy red boots for these big feet of mine! 
The driving force of this movement is Molly Barker. She has decided to take the month of August and travel the country, meeting with small groups of people for discussion on this topic. 
When she said she was coming to Chicago, I jumped at the chance to be a apart of this discussion. I wanted not only to meet Molly but also to find out more about this movement. Another woman and myself volunteered to cohost the event and she volunteered her home. 
We both invited people, and were concerned not many would show. I mean, really, who wants to give up a Friday night to talk about politics? Molly assured us that no matter who/how many it would work out and we trusted her.
Once everyone arrived, we had a nice mix of ages (20 somethings to 50 somethings). We sat in a circle and Molly began. She told us how she came to the place she was at this moment and why this was important. And then she opened the floor to discussion with a question…what qualities do you want in your perfect leader? 
The answers varied and the conversation twisted and turned to how we each felt about different political topics from term limits to lobbyists to campaign spending. Never once was a voice raised. Never once was someone challenged. Never once was there a negative vibe in the room…and we all had different views. Molly continued to ask difficult questions and push us for deeper answers. One thing that we realized is that everyone wants to be accepted and to belong and sometimes people step into a ‘box’ to conform leaving their own values and beliefs behind.
About an hour into the conversation, a woman asked, “What’s the take away?  I’m tired of going to meetings to discuss another meeting. What can I do? What is the action plan?” So we talked about that and what that would be, what that would look like for each of us….it is really different for each of us.
As the evening came to a close, the circle broke apart  and we each sat in smaller groups, continuing our conversations as people dwindled and headed home.
My cohost and I cleaned up and said goodbye to everyone. Molly was last to leave with me and we each got into our cars. I drove home alone thinking of all that I had heard that night. That nagging question, “What’s the takeaway?” rang in my ears. What was I going to do? How was I going to take what I had learned and apply it to my life? I went to bed with …what can I do….in my head.
The next morning I had my group long run. My group loves to eat so we usually talk food as the miles click away but that morning someone asked why I looked tired. I jumped on the opportunity to tell some of my group about my evening and about the Coalition. Then I started with the same question, “What qualities do you want in your perfect leader?” That lead to what is broken in the system and what frustrates us. I talked politics and listened to various group members for about 5 miles. It was an amazing discussion and we each learned more about one another. The conversation soon turned to food again but I was good with it….one has to have something to look forward to …eating…after a 10 mile run.
I realized that we all need to talk to one another. We need to really listen more and respect one another’s viewpoints. We don’t all have to agree but we need to listen and learn. My take away… to ask questions, to LISTEN to the answers and to learn from others.
Molly is a real visionary. If anyone can bring about change, it would be her. If she can get little girls to believe in themselves as the founder of Girls on the Run, she can get adults to believe in the promise of change in politics. Someone once told me that Molly is a lot like Peter Pan….she makes you believe. Well, I believe.
Red Boots, Strong Coffee, Change the World.
Forward is a pace. Peace.

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