Coffee Party brews up rival for Tea Party‎

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by DEBBIE DENMON / WFAA-TV

wfaa.com

Posted on March 14, 2010 at 9:49 AM

Updated Sunday, Mar 14 at 5:57 PM

DALLAS — First, it was the Tea Party. Now, the coffee is brewing.

A new political group came out on Saturday. It is neither Republican nor Democrat.

The Coffee Party movement was formed as opposition to the conservative Tea Parties.

While both groups say they are disillusioned with mainstream politicians, Coffee Party activists believe government can provide solutions.

"It goes back to going to the old idea of going to your local coffee shop; of talking with your friends and talking with issues that matter to you today," explained Casey Lloyd, who organized a Coffee Party in Dallas on Saturday, one of 350 meetings planned around the country.

The goal: To discuss issues they don't agree on.

"Rule number one: You have to be civil," Lloyd said. "You have to agree to hearing points of view you don't want to hear. And that is brilliance of the Coffee Party."

The idea grew out of a Facebook page started by Annabel Park, a documentary filmmaker who lives outside Washington.

"What we want is basically a change in our political culture," Park said. "We feel that our political culture has been really toxified by just bickering and fighting."

Park has quite a following. Raini Layne became the 13,000th person to sign on, holding her own court at a Richardson coffee house on Thursday evening. Layne was asked if she thought the Coffee Party movement would grow as large as the Tea Party.

"I don't keep up with the Tea Party," she said. "That's more anger than I can handle!"

Tea Party proponents have often carried signs that could be considered offensive at their rallies in recent months.

The Coffee Party made a point of displaying the peace sign.

"We don't have an agenda," Lloyd said. "We allow the people that want to come to our meeting to decide what the topics are and where we go from here."

And Raini summed up the Coffee Party concept this way: "Regular people after civil discourse over coffee."

The official Coffee Party Facebook page now has nearly 150,000 followers.

There is a Coffee Party convention being planned in the Midwest this summer.

E-mail ddenmon@wfaa.com

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