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Howard Dean keynoting Yearly Kos convention, June 2006.
Where were you  June 8–11, 2006? Were you among the 1,200 of us sweltering in Las Vegas, soaking in the ambience of the Riviera Hotel and Casino? I was there, at the inaugural convention of the netroots dubbed then "Yearly Kos." That experience pretty much changed my life, personally, professionally, and politically.

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When I landed in Las Vegas that June I was a mess, not sure that I should even been there. I had spent the last nine months in cancer hell, helping my sister, who is disabled, see her husband out of this world. Of course, during most of those nine months we didn't know that was our task. We thought we were saving him, so when the end came, brutal and fast, it was more of shock than it should have been. Earlier in the year, when things looked more hopeful, I had registered and bought my plane ticket for what looked like it was going to be a big ol' family reunion among all these people who hadn't met each other yet. But when the time came, I wasn't sure I could do it. My sister made me go.

She had seen what a lifeline Daily Kos had been for me in those long months, how it had become a retreat, oddly, back into real life. I spent many, many hours during those months bathed in this orange distraction, building friendships and finding solidarity in the Democratic wing of the Democratic party. That was also the year that I joined the contributing editor ranks at Daily Kos, so I had become pretty darned invested in this place. It had become my virtual home, all the people I talked with here everyday my virtual family. Remembering back to those dark, dark days of the Bush administration, I realize how critical just having an amplifier for my voice, for all our voices, was. When I went to Yearly Kos, I discovered how important sharing our voices is. The experience of seeing all of us in one place, of feeling all of us in one place, cemented for me how important personally and politically what we are doing was and is.

That conviction has only strengthened in the past seven years. It's been strengthened by both the set-backs and victories we've had in those years. Winning the Senate in 2006 when all the Serious People said Democrats shouldn't run on Iraq? Huge. Winning the White House in 2008? Massive. Losing the House in 2010? Sucked. Which is why we have to keep working to get back. Seeing Joe Lieberman retire rather than face us again in 2012? So, so, satisfying (though beating him would have been better). And seeing the filibuster on nominations ended last month? Victory, pure and simple. All this happened largely because of what we've been building here in the Netroots. And all of that is assisted by having Netroots Nation, the place where we all come together every year to sustain and grow this movement.

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So when Markos asked me to take over the seat he was vacating on the Netroots Nation board of directors in April, 2012, I didn't hesitate for a moment. I had experienced first hand the amazing growth and influence in the netroots, and wanted to be part of helping it along.

I've been to every convention. I've had scarily exhilarating responsibilities, and appearances. I've been an observer, learning from the myriad of learned voices and fired up activists who attend every year. I've been a volunteer filling up care packages with Netroots for the Troops. And I've just hung out, having a great time with the people who I still consider my virtual family, even though many of those from 2006 have moved along.

So come hell or high water, I'll be in Detroit, July 17-20, 2014. We've accomplished a lot in this past year to celebrate. We've got a great deal to accomplish in 2014. This election will be focused like none other on economic inequality, and what better place to be for that critical discussion than Detroit?

Join us. Register now to be inspired in July. If you need more incentive, today is the final day of rolled back registration dates. Until midnight tonight, Pacific time, you can register at the activist rate, the lowest rate available until July.

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