A Most Progressive 10th Birthday

Wednesday, April 25th 2018

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Your face after the scheduling manager of THE Senator Bernie Sanders calls from Washington D.C. to wish you a Happy 10th Birthday.


Trick Question:  What do Bernie Sanders, The Declaration of Independence and my son’s 10th Birthday have in common?

Here’s the story.

1)  When I ask my son whom he would like to invite to his Tenth Birthday, he blurts out -in all sincerity-  “Bernie Sanders.”  And while we are absolutely realistic about the prospects of the Dear Senator actually gracing us with his presence, I applaud anyone who dares to dream, and promise my son we will send him an invitation.


2) Pondering What Bernie Would have us Do, I also suggest we reach out to the most progressive member of our own Cambridge City Council and invite them.  That would be one Quinton Zondervan, who received the highest rating from Our Revolution, the organization borne out of Bernie Sanders’ unforgettable (100% publicly funded) presidential campaign.


3)  Councilor Zondervan’s aid, Dan Totten, not only accepts our invitation, but when I inquire about arranging a brief meeting first, he graciously invites us to come enjoy a personal tour of our historic Cambridge City Hall.  Today is the day!


4)  Finally I get around to actually inviting Senator Sanders to Gavin’s birthday.  When I call his office in Vermont, an aide answers the phone.  I tell her as briefly as I can why I am calling and how inspired we are by Mr. Sanders.  She refers me to his scheduling manager in Washington D.C.., Jake Gillison.  I send him an email with photos and leave a phone message.

[Gavin & I marching with a giant Bernie puppet in Philly 2016.  BDP Invite.  Us w/ Candidate Zandervon in October 2017.]


5)  On our way to City Hall my phone rings from a D.C. number.  I answer and it’s Jake Gillison, Bernie’s scheduling guy!  He is looking at the photos and reaching out to us in response to our call.  He confirms that Mr. Sanders will be out of state this weekend, but speaks with Gavin and personally wishes him a happy birthday.  OMG!!


6) Dear Jacob:

2018-04-25 14.56.09Here is a photo of my son after getting off the phone with you. 

Honestly this was a very moving experience for us; a personal and almost visceral exchange with our own federal government through you and Sen. Sanders’ office.  A truly compelling experience for our whole family.

…So, thank you Jacob.   We are humbled, and thankful.  I promise to continue nurturing our political engagement in the progressive movement.   Bless you and Bless Bernie Forever!”


7)  On we go to City Hall to hang out with Councilor Zondervan.




i:  This 200 year old Map of Cambridge.

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Mostly swamp, Harvard College, and First Parish Church* where Paul and I got married!


*[which you can see on this map below at about 8:30 on the clock; a slightly bigger building by itself, with steeple]











ii:  My Daughter’s Response to the City Clerk Sign:

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Birth, Marriage, Death, and you’re done.


And, um, hello?!

iii:  The Actual Freaking Declaration of Independence:

Talk about red carpet.  For us they pull out the city’s “Selectman Record” dating back to **1769** (aka:  7 years before we were a country).  It’s an old weathered leather bound parchment book which includes within it the actual  Declaration of Independence; an original genuine rendering hand quilled in calligraphy ink in 1776.

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The Declaration of Independence 

Apparently many copies were inscribed at the time and every major city received one.  This one was discovered in our City Hall’s archives last year.

hen in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

In the lower right picture here you can see a spot where a mistake was made, I presume the ink was blotted, and two lines cross it out.  The penmanship work is breathtaking.


Here Councilor Zondervan points out where it says:

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 “…these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”


To which Gavin respectfully replies:

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“Yeah, although unfortunately in those days, ‘all men‘ didn’t include everybody.”


And there you have it ladies and gentleman; the essence of our work yet to be done.

In fact Councilor Zondervan told me that while I was in the ladies room Gavin had confided his personal ethics; There should be equal rights for everyone.



Excuse me but;

May I take a moment as the Mom in this equation?

Is my work done here, or what?


    I’m not crying, you’re crying.


9)   “So simple yet heartbreakingly profound,” I humble brag report back to Jake in D.C.,  “Because in spite of his youth he is not ignorant to the plights of our times.”

And he writes:

“Hello Jennifer – Thank you so much for sharing the photos. It’s great to see Gavin so engaged with his future at such a young age. His insights for the state of the world [are] very powerful. It was the perfect response regarding “all men are created equal.” I do hope he continues to be involved and perhaps one day he will be very instrumental in fostering the much needed change.

Best wishes, 

Jake Gillison”

Like I said #ImNotCryingYoureCrying.


10)  Thank you Councilor Zondervan and your wonderful Aid Dan Totten!



About circuskitchen

performing artist, mom, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, niece... just a regular extraordinary person
This entry was posted in activism, art, Bernie Sanders, childhood, education, faith, family, fight, history, learning, love, mental health, parenthood, politics, racial injustice, social justice, The Progressive Movement. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to A Most Progressive 10th Birthday

  1. Jane Ann Nelson says:


    Jane Ann Nelson Senior Talent Recruitment Manager Imprimis


  2. Bubble Wow says:

    You’re right. I’m crying. Gavin told me about your personal tour of City Hall and that his favorite part was the historic map of Cambridge. And your flamly’s church is on it!! Great job raising woke kids, Mommy!

    “We ain’t where we should be, and we ain’t where we’re gonna be, but praise god a’mighty, we ain’t where we usta be!” — Designing Women.

  3. Louis B. Oberhauser says:

    Love you Gavin and ave a gret birthday. Love grandpa

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