I cannot think of what my life would be like today if I hadn't met you, MaryLee. I never took a class from you, but you have certainly been an influential educator in my life.

I used to think all it would take was a well-reasoned argument delivered to the proper authority to affect change. I came to realize that our elected leaders really have no motive to lead. They do quite well in their careers when they bide their time and wait to see which way the wind blows.

When I came to this community and heard about what the 85% Coalition was doing, I saw there was another way of engaging authority. I feel fortunate that I caught a ride with you on my first trip out with 85% to Paris, IL in January 2000 and that we had a chance to talk about direct action. Even though we froze in the parking lot that night, it felt great to act after years of having lobbying efforts ignored. It felt even better to get immediate feedback (positive and negative) from the people who were there. At least people's initial, gut response is honest!

You opened a door to an immensely creative, dedicated group of people in the C-U area, and I am so glad to know them and their different worldviews. The experiences I have had and the people I have met in the last three years have truly been remarkable. In your company and around the people you draw in, there is an inspiring feeling of possibilities.

You are the gold standard of activism, a force to be reckoned with, an irreplaceable reference on American History and social activism. You are a fount of knowledge and eager to share as all good educators do. I wish there was a way to preserve your snappy responses to critics. I wish we could duplicate your energy and logic and knowledge and distribute it for new activists to absorb and carry on in style.

Thank you for sharing your time and talents with anyone who asks. This community would not be where it is today if not for your influence. And people like myself would certainly not be the same. You should know you are well-loved and will be missed in this community. I wish you and Anne the best of luck as you start this next exciting phase of your life together. With kindest regards, Meg