Friday, November 16, 2007


Comtact: John Wren, (720)495-4949

Political parties with good leadership are the megaphone of the grassroots in America, the place where the humble voice of the common person is best heard. February 5, the Colorado Caucus starts the process of not only nominating candidates for President and other offices, but also of electing the leadership of both major political parties.

My friend Sue said it best when she was still with us:

“(The Colorado Caucus is) a vibrant neighborhood forum for hashing out ideas—the last remaining arena in which you can get on the first rung of the ladder toward political effectiveness by just showing up.” (Sue O’Brien, Denver Post Columnist, 10/6/2002)

Our US republic has three parts:

1) Our elected representatives at the local, state, and Federal level and the system that supports them;

2) The grassroots, the common person expressing him or her self to our elected representative directly, through political parties, and through interactive media; and

3) The elite, people able to exert extraordinary influence on our representatives and our grassroots because of their monetary and non-monetary power.

Together, these strands form the strong rope of our Republic, the source of our freedom and justice for 232 years (if we take the founding of what we now call the U.S. Marine Corp on November 10, 1775 as the true start of our country.)

Each of these stands is important, but the first among equals in our American Republic is the grassroots. Not the unchecked mob-rule of a direct democracy, but the humble participation in our processes of freedom, being an active participant in reading, discussing the issues, and then electing and holding accountable our representatives.

Our two party system has served us well. Ego driven third parties almost always backfire. Both Ross Perot and his party and Ralph Nader and his party got the candidate they’d least like to see in power elected.

Some criticize the Democrats and Republicans, saying there is no real difference between them. Do we want a big difference? To win elections each party must move towards the middle of what the country wants. Democrats usually stress justice; Republicans usually stress freedom; but they are both for freedom and justice.

Demonizing the other side is sometimes just good fun, but too often sharp attacks are a tool of manipulation, the cheap shot of poor leadership and talk-radio.

There are good Democrats and good Republican. It’s like choosing up sides in a touch football game, does it really matter if you are a shirt or a skin, a red or a green? Two teams enables a healthy contest, but at the end of the day there is something very wrong with my thinking if I hate the other side.

Registering as a Democrat or a Republican is just a tool, your ticket to the process that starts with the February 5 caucus with your neighbors where the League of Women Voters has said you can best make your voice heard and your votes count.

My fellow Colorado Americans, today I beg of you to do your duty as a citizen. Read and discuss the issues, then register as a Democrat or Republican by December 5, the deadline for being able to participate in the February 5 Colorado caucus.

To find out more, talk with someone like Sue O’Brien who has seen the system work under good leadership a couple of decades back. Ask your favorite newspaper to write an article about our Colorado Caucus system and its history, and ask your local librarian for information. Join us for the new Denver Grassroots Rally (we may be moving our meeting time and place, to get a notice of each meeting RSVP yes/no/ or maybe at

If nothing else, go to a nursing home, and talk with someone who has been involved in politics. They will remember, and you can help us recreate on February 5, what Sue knew was and with good party leadership potentially still is ” the last remaining arena in which you can get on the first rung of the ladder toward political effectiveness by just showing up.”

Will you help us restore the grassroots in Colorado?

John Wren is a business consultant and adult educator. He is the founder of the new Denver Grassroots Rally. His is currently the GOP Denver District 5 Captain. He can be contacted at (303)861-1447 or


Friday, November 16, 2007

After 4 p.m.

Contact: John Wren (720)495-4949

New Contest to Reward Media Coverage of Colorado Caucus Registration Deadline.

Veteran community activist John Wren announced today contest for all Colorado media, including websites and blogs. The purpose is to encourage Colorado media to promote the December 5, 2007 registration deadline to vote in the Colorado Caucus next February 5, 2008. Wren made the announcement at the regular weekly meeting of the new Denver Grassroots Rally.

“The deadline to register to be able to vote in the caucus is much earlier than in past years. To encourage local media to get the word out about this and to explain the Colorado Caucus system to the thousands of new voters in Colorado, we are going to give an award for the most creative presentation of caucus information to Colorado citizens,” said Wren.

“Stories that come up on Google with the search term “Colorado Caucus” will be automatically entered; other stories can be emailed to or brought directly to the December 6th regular weekly meeting of the Denver Grassroots Rally. Those attending December 6 will vote, and we’ll present the awards at the 3rd annual Denver Ben Franklin Birthday Party January 17, 2008 (Ben’s 302nd birthday).”

Contest awards will be given for the top three stories on the Colorado Caucus and how it works. All writers and reporters at all media are eligible, including blogs and websites of individuals and organizations, such as: the Secretary of State; Denver Election Commission; neighborhood, high school and college newspapers; etc.

“Certificates of recognition will be given to the top three vote getters this year. We hope to do more in the future contest through cooperation with the Colorado Press Association and other groups,” said Wren. “There is no reason that the Colorado Caucus can’t generate the same level of publicity for Colorado as we now see for Iowa and their Iowa Caucus, if the media will do a good job of informing citizens about the system. This could be a big boost for our economy.”

The multi-partisan Denver Grassroots Rally is held each Friday, 4 pm at Panera Bread, 13th & Grant Street. Those attending can just listen or they can get 2 to 5 minutes on the “soap box” to express their opinions. The meeting is free and open to all, for more information and to RSVP (which is NOT required, but gets first position on the speakers list) see

The Colorado Caucus is prescribed by Colorado State Law, and the rules of the state and county political parties. It has been held every two years since 1912. Many Colorado political leaders got their start attending their neighborhood precinct caucus. Amendment 29 in 2002 would have killed the system for nominating to the primary ballot; it was defeated 60% to 40%. Attendance has declined over the past 20 years, until now it is estimated that only 8% of the citizens of Colorado even know that the system exists.

“Colorado’s traditional caucus-convention system rewards shoe-leather and diligence. It provides a low-cost way for aspirants to work the neighborhoods, investing energy instead of dollars…

“But even more important that the caucus’ benefits for candidates is its benefits for ordinary citizens. It’s a vibrant neighborhood forum for hashing out ideas—the last remaining arena in which you can get on the first rung of the ladder toward political effectiveness by just showing up.” Sue O’Brien, Denver Post Columnist, 10/6/2002

“The Colorado system was adopted in 1910 and went into effect in 1912… (It) combines some of the better features of both (the convention system and primary system) nominating methods and does not have any of the worst defects of either system. It is simple and direct; it permits citizens to run for office even though they may not be the ‘pets’ of the party organization, and at the same time it discourages persons without any real stature and public standing from becoming candidates.” Curtis Martin and Wallace Stealey, Readings in Colorado Government and Politics, Bureau of Governmental Research and Service, University of Colorado, Boulder, 1967.

John S. Wren, MBA+ is an adult educator and consultant. He is now president of the Denver South Optimists Club, and a member of the board of directors of the Denver Lions Club. He is the past-president of the Rocky Mountain Direct Marketing Association, the Denver City Club, the Colorado College Republicans, and the University of Denver Graduate Students Association. He is one of the founders of Save the Caucus which defeated Amendment 29 in 2002 which would have destroyed the neighborhood caucus-assembly system for nominating to the primary ballot. He currently serves as Denver GOP District 5 Captain. He formed the first Franklin Circle in Denver in 1996, he’s the founder of the Denver Ben Franklin Birthday Party, and the Denver Grassroots Rally.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Tomorrow at the Denver Grassroots Rally, I'm going to announce a new contest for people who want to write about the Colorado Caucus, our system for finding good candidates and getting them elected.

Click here: Colorado Caucus Contest News Release

I'll be making the announcement at 4 pm, Panera Bread, 13th & Grant near the Capitol. Join us if you can! RSVP at

And consider writing something to help others learn about our wonderful neighborhood system. Every 2 years it gives us the opportunity for a state-wide civics lesson. School is now in session, will you be the teacher?

We'd like to recognize you for your effort with a letter to the editor, op-ed, special web-site or blog, or just web-site or blog postings, pamphlet, etc. on Ben Franklin's Birthday January 17. If you have any questions, give me a call, ok?
On this day in: 1926 - The NBC radio network opens with 24 stations; 1969 - Dave Thomas opens the first Wendy's fast food restaurant in Columbus, Ohio; 1979 - John E. Wren, my father, dies of cancer. He was born February 10, 1924.

There was no obituary in the paper for my father, only a funeral notice. Wellshire Presbyterian Church was packed, but many, many people who were not there have told me they wish they’d known about it and that they would have attended.

The service was led by dad’s friend from high school, Rev. Bob Ely who was pastor at the time at Trinity Methodist Church.

There was a reception for the family at Mom and Pop’s condo, where Mom still lives. Someone asked me to say something, and so I did. We ate, I took a walk with dad’s cousin Jack, and it was finished. My ex-wife Janet had all our Denver relatives and some friends over for Thanksgiving a few days later, and then she delivered Allie our 4th child November 25.

Dad’s last words to Mom were, “Don’t worry, honey, we’re going to lick this.” The hospice people had encouraged us to get dad to talk about dying, that it would help him and help us all. I remember sitting face to face with him for the last time in the Porter Hospital lounge and asking him, “what is this like for you, Dad?” He said, “How is what?” Dying. “That’s a morbid question,” he said. We went back to his room, he gave me a silent, final hug. That evening we stood around his bed as he slipped away.

There was no obituary because I could never bring myself to write it through the tears that have come every time I tried, and I insisted that it be my words. It needs to be a book. He was a remarkable, great man. He accomplished the American Dream, and then died way, way too young. We miss you, Pop.

like clouds
vanishing from a puddle
that morning
my father
silently disappeared

--Mariko Kitakubo

Coincidence? Jari Thymian, the widely published poet and author of her new The Meaning of Barns shared this with us yesterday at the Denver South Optimists Club in her excellent talk “Haiku Introduction.” When I heard the poem yesterday, and even more as I share it here with you now, it brings tears. It expresses very much how I have felt about that last talk and final hug from Pop 28 years ago. Maybe now after these (final?) tears I can write his obituary.

If you knew Pop, would you write to me? I’d be very grateful, and will keep what you say confidential if you ask me to do so, or I’ll share it in what I write.

Thinkers 50 is an interesting annual list of the top 50 business gurus. It has short, interesting biographies with provocative quotes.

This year’s #16, Henry Mintzberg, says:

“I think every MBA should have a skull and crossbones stamped on their forehead and underneath should be written: "Warning: not prepared to manage."

(I say I’m a recovering MBA, that I put MBA on my business card by way of warning, not bragging!)

#14 Gary Hamel argues that complacency and cynicism are endemic. "Dilbert is the bestselling business book of all time. It is cynical about management. Never has there been so much cynicism," he laments.
"What we need is not visionaries but activists. We need antidotes to Dilbert."

Antidote to Dilbert. That's why I like Franklin Circles: It’s just about impossible to be in one for more than a few weeks and not become at least a bit less cynical and a bit more of an activist. I’m up extra early today because this morning we’re testing the Franklin Circle format at the new Downtown Denver Lions Club breakfast meeting, 7:30 am at the Denver Athletic Club. I’ll let you know how it goes. We’ll see...

This evening I’ll be at the Denver Socrates Cafe, Trinity Church, 7 pm, lots of free parking on Lincoln Street just a block East, the meters stop there at 6 pm. Meets each week (except next week because of Thanksgiving) if you enjoy good discussion, join us some Thursday. RSVP at

Tomorrow, I’ll lead the Denver IDEA Cafe, 2 pm at Panera Bread, 13th & Grant. Speakers share their startup experience, and we brainstorm. Join us if you’re starting a new project, a new career, a new business, or a new campaign and you’re not sure what you’re going to do Monday morning. RSVP at

Then at 4 pm at Panera I’ll MC the new Denver Grassroots Rally. Just listen or get a couple of minutes on the soap box to express your opinion on candidates, issues, philosophy or use your time to make an announcement, tell a joke or sing a song. It’s a lot of fun, we’re going to discuss moving it to a larger venue. No RSVP required, but those on the RSVP list and who come on time get to speak first.

For any of these three meetings, RSVP yes/no/ or maybe, and you’ll get an email reminder each week, an announcement of any special speakers or guests expected for the meeting, a list of others who have RSVP’d, and a notice if the meeting moves to another location. So if you’re interested RSVP now! And forward an invitation to your friends who might like to join us, makes that easy, just click Promote/ Invite Friends.

Life is short, let’s get started! How may I help you?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Joyce Meskis, owner of our Denver treasure, the Tattered Cover Bookstore, spoke at the Denver Lions Club yesterday. Joyce started by sharing the titles of lots of unusual books. A sample: "Old tractors and the men who love them." "We've been through so much, and most of it's your fault." "How to understand your therapist."

Book stores and libraries are the heart of our communities, Joyce told us. Barbara Tuchman said, “Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill.”

Joyce said the Tattered Cover host 500 to 600 events per year. Get complaints from both the right and the left. She bought store in original location in 1974, moved it 3 times until now in the new Colfax location across from East High School. "There are worse places for kids to hang out," she said. Stores now in LoDo and Highlands Ranch, too.

My daughter had the great privilage of working at the Tattered Cover, and like all employees was given a personal orientation by Joyce. We are very grateful for that training, and grateful for this wonderful place that "brings books and people together."

I bought a book at the Tattered Cover recently that inspired me to write this last night as a storm blew into Denver from the mountains in the West:

Leaves blow as snow comes,
Memory and hope warm now.
Flowers past, future: present.
On this date in: 1789 Benjamin Franklin wrote in a letter to a friend, "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." 1956 The Supreme Court struck down laws calling for racial segregation on public buses. 1979 Former California Gov. Ronald Reagan announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination.

We may move the Denver Grassroots Rally to Civic Center Park. I just sent this release to Denver media:

November 13, 2007

Contact: John Wren (720)495-XXXX

Nov 16, 2 p.m. IDEA Café_ Zane Robertson and Jane Mountain, MD will speak about their startup experience. Free to those starting a new career, a new project, a new business, or a new campaign. Startup experience is shared and there is brainstorming.

Location: Panera Bread, 1350 Grant St., Denver, in the community room.

Contacts: John Wren (720)495-4949
Zane Robertson (303)320-XXXX
Jane Mountain MD (303)329-XXXX

Nov 16, 4 p.m. DENVER GRASSROOTS RALLY_ Community activist John Wren will lead this open discussion on the topic: "Denver: Past, Present, and Future" Free and open to all. Sign-ups to speak open at 3:30 p.m. The group will also discuss when we plan to move to Civic Center Park, and if permission from the city will be needed.

Location: Panera Bread, 1350 Grant St., Denver, in the community room.

Contacts: John Wren (720)495-XXXX

John S. Wren, MBA+

Monday, November 12, 2007

Wikipedia doesn't list anything for Colorado caucus, but it does have a big article about the Iowa Caucus, which includes a reference to this:

The Iowa Caucus Class is a comprehensive university exploration of the process by which the United States of America selects its candidates for president. See, Democracy and Deliberation: New Directions for Democratic Reform By James S. Fishkin.

The caucus class, developed by Dr. Steffen W. Schmidt, University Professor of Political Science at Iowa State University, is the FIRST Internet course on the caucuses and presidential selection process. Dr. Schmidt is a pioneer in distance learning and was recently awarded the highest honor for innovation in distance education by the IDLA (Iowa Distance Learning Association). The course uses the latest technologies including streaming digital video clips, discussion forums, real-time communications through Skype, Instant Messenger, and Web CT. On-line secure tests are also used for assessment.

The course is intended to be a "demonstration tool" for democratic politics and the practice of grass-roots (i.e. participatory) democracy for anyone interested in developing these techniques. The use of the Internet allows participants from around the world, for the first time, to create training communities or self-train on a very interesting process that dates back to Native Americans ( American Indians)in the United States. In fact, the word "caucus" is an American Indian term that means "a meeting of tribal leaders." (see David Yepsen, "FAQ's on the Iowa Caucuses", DSMR, 2004.)
On this date in 1954 Ellis Island closed after processing more than 20 million immigrants since opening in New York Harbor in 1892.

Today is the legal observance of Veterans Day. November 11 was first proclaimed by President Wilson in 1919 after World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” - officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France.


Google "Colorado caucus" and what comes up?

Articles about the caucus 2 years ago! Why aren't Colorado newspapers writing about the upcoming 2008 caucus? For the 48th time since 1912 Colorado neighbors will gather to start the process of nominating to the primary ballot.

Every two years we have the chance for a state wide civics lesson. Looks to me like the Colorado media is flunking the test! No wonder only 8% of the people in Colorado even know the system exists!

There are Meetups for new Dems and GOP, go to, search on party of your choice.

Or Friday join us for the wide-open, non-partisian, Denver Grassroots Rally, where someone is sure to give an explaination of the system.