“We are very grass roots,” said Renee Collymore, standing outside the new Parliament Democratic Club, housed in a narrow storefront on Putnam Avenue, between Grand Avenue and Downing Street. Ms. Collymore is just coming off her work as Deputy Campaign Manager for Queens Democratic Council Member David Weprin during his run for city comptroller and is still geared for action. “Democracy has to be exercised and it is not being exercised to its fullest here in Brooklyn. The people have to be energized. Political freedom is very important and the people have been giving up their power to the elected officials because of lazy voting and inertia.”
While there are other political clubs in the area, Ms. Collymore says that the way for a political club to have an impact on the community is to actually perform useful services, and that is where her club will differ. “It cannot be just politics while people are not getting assistance. Politics mixed with social programs is the key,” says Ms. Collymore. “Politics alone makes a club handicapped. We have implemented a pilot program, The Fundamentals of Citizenship, to sixth-graders where I will be teaching them their responsibility as citizens, and what their duties are as citizens. Even as sixth-graders, they are citizens.
“This is a Democratic Club with an independent voice. We have Republicans, Conservatives and Libertarians in this club. This is a club of inclusion. I want to popularize the idea of political clubs again. I want to pull people out of poverty and give them political clout. I want the little political club on the corner to be like a small branch of government. We will be working block-by-block to include people so that they can exercise their power locally.”