Think & Drink Portland 2019–20: Making Democracy

Fred Joe

Abraham Lincoln described democracy as “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” but democracy in the United States has always excluded some people from participating. Throughout our history, groups of Americans have worked to make democracy more inclusive while others have worked to concentrate power. How can the United States become a more fully democratic society? Is it possible for majority rule to represent the interests of the country’s most vulnerable people? Where is democracy being practiced in a way that deserves the name? In this year’s Think & Drink series, we’ll consider how we make decisions together in our communities in four onstage conversations with activists, writers and civic leaders.

Think & Drink takes place at the Alberta Rose Theatre, 3000 NE Alberta St., in Portland, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. We invite you to stay after the program for snacks and conversation. Minors are welcome when accompanied by an adult. No-cost tickets are available for all Think & Drink events.


  • October 16, 2019: Desmond Meade, executive director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC). In 2018, FRRC led the campaign to pass Amendment 4, which restored voting rights to over 1.4 million Floridians with past felony convictions. Meade is a formerly homeless returning citizen. In addition to his work at FRRC, he is chair of Floridians for a Fair Democracy and a graduate of Florida International University College of Law. Read more.
  • January 22, 2020: Oregon Supreme Court Justice Adrienne Nelson, Benton County District Attorney John Haroldson, and Shannon Wight, deputy director of Partnership for Safety and Justice. Appointed in 2018, Nelson is the first African American judge to serve on the state's highest court. She previously served twelve years as a Multnomah County Circuit Court judge. Before becoming a judge, Nelson worked as a public defender. Haroldson was appointed Benton County District Attorney in 2007, after nearly two decades as an assistant district attorney in Linn and Benton counties. He is Oregon's first Mexican-American District Attorney. Wight is a policy advocate, strategist, and direct service provider who cofounded the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana and served as Policy Director for Innocence Project New Orleans before joining Partnership for Safety and Justice in 2008.
  • March 11, 2020: TBD
  • May 13, 2020: TBD

The 2019–20 Think & Drink series is made possible thanks to the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Oregon Cultural Trust, Stoel Rives LLP, Tonkon Torp LLP, and the Kinsman Foundation.

Our community partners for the series are Next Up, Oregon Latino Health Coalition, League of Women Voters of Oregon, League of Women Voters of PortlandPineros y Campesinos Unidos del NoroesteUnite Oregon, and Write Around Portland.

Questions about Think & Drink? Please contact Ben Waterhouse at


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