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Following In Granny D’s footsteps

Dixville Notch to Nashua: 185-mile trek in support of campaign finance reform

  • The spirit of Granny D Haddock lives on after her passing four years ago.

    The spirit of Granny D Haddock lives on after her passing four years ago.

  • The spirit of Granny D Haddock lives on after her passing four years ago.

    The spirit of Granny D Haddock lives on after her passing four years ago.

  • The spirit of Granny D Haddock lives on after her passing four years ago.

    The spirit of Granny D Haddock lives on after her passing four years ago.

  • The spirit of Granny D Haddock lives on after her passing four years ago.

    The spirit of Granny D Haddock lives on after her passing four years ago.

  • The spirit of Granny D Haddock lives on after her passing four years ago.

    The spirit of Granny D Haddock lives on after her passing four years ago.

  • The spirit of Granny D Haddock lives on after her passing four years ago.

    The spirit of Granny D Haddock lives on after her passing four years ago.

  • The spirit of Granny D Haddock lives on after her passing four years ago.

    The spirit of Granny D Haddock lives on after her passing four years ago.

  • The spirit of Granny D Haddock lives on after her passing four years ago.

    The spirit of Granny D Haddock lives on after her passing four years ago.

  • The spirit of Granny D Haddock lives on after her passing four years ago.

    The spirit of Granny D Haddock lives on after her passing four years ago.

  • The spirit of Granny D Haddock lives on after her passing four years ago.

    The spirit of Granny D Haddock lives on after her passing four years ago.

  • The spirit of Granny D Haddock lives on after her passing four years ago.

    The spirit of Granny D Haddock lives on after her passing four years ago.

  • The spirit of Granny D Haddock lives on after her passing four years ago.

    The spirit of Granny D Haddock lives on after her passing four years ago.

  • The spirit of Granny D Haddock lives on after her passing four years ago.
  • The spirit of Granny D Haddock lives on after her passing four years ago.
  • The spirit of Granny D Haddock lives on after her passing four years ago.
  • The spirit of Granny D Haddock lives on after her passing four years ago.
  • The spirit of Granny D Haddock lives on after her passing four years ago.
  • The spirit of Granny D Haddock lives on after her passing four years ago.
  • The spirit of Granny D Haddock lives on after her passing four years ago.
  • The spirit of Granny D Haddock lives on after her passing four years ago.
  • The spirit of Granny D Haddock lives on after her passing four years ago.
  • The spirit of Granny D Haddock lives on after her passing four years ago.
  • The spirit of Granny D Haddock lives on after her passing four years ago.
  • The spirit of Granny D Haddock lives on after her passing four years ago.

Harvard University Professor Lawrence Lessig organized an 185-mile walk through New Hampshire in what was often bitter cold temperatures, culminating in a birthday celebration for the late Doris “Granny D” Haddock, held at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Nashua last Friday.

Fifteen years ago, Doris “Granny D” Haddock walked 3,200 miles across America to advocate for campaign finance reform. Haddock was 88 years old when she began the walk in the winter of 1999, and walked approximately 10 miles a day for 14 months. In the U.S. Senate race of 2004, Haddock, a Democrat running on her campaign finance reform platform, lost to the Republican incumbent, Judd Gregg. Today, The New Hampshire-based Coalition for Open Democracy continues to carry forward Haddock’s work.

A group of 30 supporters of the Coalition for Open Democracy gathered in Dixville Notch on Jan. 11, with a plan to march 185 miles south in support of the movement against political corruption. They were led by Lawrence Lessig of NHRebellion. Last Friday, 17 of those people walked into the Unitarian Universalist Church in Nashua. Hundreds of people joined them along their route at various points, showing their support. “We are the GD walkers,” proclaimed Lessig at the birthday celebration on Friday.

Gordon Allen, co-founder of the Coalition for Open Democracy, served as master of ceremonies and was first to address the church full of supporters. He spoke about problems residents of New Hampshire face today, including unfair property taxes, high costs of education and crumbling roads. But, he said, corruption in elections takes precedence. Allen set the tone for the night, saying “Enough is enough, we gotta kick the big bully out.”

N.H. Senator Peggy Gilmour, D-Hollis, read a proclamation on behalf of Gov. Maggie Hassan, declaring Jan. 24, Haddock’s birthday, “Granny D” day. Friday would have been Haddock’s 104th birthday.

A dapper Hedrick Smith took the podium proclaiming, “The only way to beat organized money, is with organized people.”

Smith, a Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter and editor for the New York Times, emphasized the stagnation of the middle class. Smith believes that money and politics are no longer separate entities. “Money-politics is a driven wedge between the government and average Americans.” The crowd nodded in unanimous approval of his remarks.

The final speaker of the evening was Lawrence Lessig, who drew applause from attendees in recognition of what he had accomplished over the 185 miles. Lessig stopped at various points along the march to give presentations on the ideas of the NHRebellion, the same tactic Granny D used on her cross-country trek 15 years ago.

While walking, Lessig came up with a new metric unit of measurement: the “GD.” “One GD is 3,200 miles,” he explained, noting 3,200 is the number of cumulative miles walked during the NHRebellion event, matching Haddock’s 1999 pilgrimage. “By 2016, I want 200 GD’s in New Hampshire, and 2016 GD’s across America,” he said. “The walk as a form of political protest has been important to this country,” said Lessig, as a slide show of photos from the walk were projected on a screen behind him.

The slide show was set to an original score that Lessig had written for the event. “We walk for the love of our country, to honor out grannies and sons. We walk to put an end to corruption, till the will of our people be done,” the lyrics rang.

“The walk captured a song,” Lessig said. He was given a standing ovation as he walked from the podium proclaiming, “We can, we must, we will, win this cause.”

The Monadnock region was well represented at the birthday celebration. Carol Wyndham, a Peterborough resident and secretary of the Coalition for Open Democracy, said she was overwhelmed by the turnout. “The coming together of the ‘Grammy D’ work and NHRebellion is causing a lot of positive energy,” she raved. Wyndham was ecstatic with the turnout, “Almost 200 people is amazing, in the past we would only get 50 to 60 people.”

Wyndham is also involved in the “Granny D in the schools” program and believes that it is important that the youth embrace the movement.

Another member of the Granny D in the Schools Committee is Margaret Walsh of Peterborough, a professor at Keene State College. “She would have been touched to see so many people here,” Walsh said, referring to Haddock. “[Haddock] connected with young people well.”

Doris “Granny D” Haddock’s message for a more Democratic system of elections in Washington lives on. The NHRebellion is planning to ask each candidate in the 2016 election one question: “How are you going to stop the system of corruption in Washington?” Until then, the group remains focused on educating people about the cause and continuing to use marches to raise awareness. Come 2016, the NHRebellion hopes that GDs are enough to change how candidates are elected to office.

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