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Beer Summit: Counting and Counted
August 6, 2016 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Counting and Counted at the Heartland Café reflects on how and who we count. Who is allowed to cast ballots in the United State, and therefore who counts, has always been a negotiation. In March of 1776 Abigail Adams urged her husband to “remember the ladies.” The Continental Congress forgot about the ladies and they remained disenfranchised for nearly 150 years. Today large parts of the American voting age population are kept disenfranchised via policy and process. Right now individuals who are currently incarcerated, have felony convictions, don’t have home addresses, and many immigrants do not have the franchise. For those who are able to vote: butterfly ballots, chads, and voter ID laws are reminders that how voting happens is just as important as who is voting. Artists and designers are actively engaged in re-enfranchising populations by creating parallel processes of civic engagement and proposing more intelligent ways of designing one of the more tangible symbols of American democracy, the ballot. Near the end of Obama’s last term and just months away from a consequential election, Beer Summit: Counting and Counted returns to a point very near the beginning of an eight-year journey: The Heartland Café.
Beer Summits are a series of conversations that explore issues related to the future Barack Obama Presidential Library, artistic production, and issues of politics. The title of these conversations comes from an incident early in Obama’s first term when acclaimed black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates was arrested trying to enter his own home in Cambridge, Ma. Following the arrest President Obama invited Gates and the arresting officer to join him for a beer in the Rose Garden as an example of how to create teachable moments from difficult situations. Major media outlets called the meeting a “beer summit.” The Beer Summits are an unsanctioned and unofficial continuation of that first dialogue. More information about Beer Summits can be found here: obamapresidentiallibraryproject.