I Came In for a Mop and Left with Six Public Forums on HMO Reform

First, it was the Michael Graves toaster. Then teeny Isaac Mizrahi bouclé skirts, all things shabby-chic for your living room, and, out in exurbia, groceries. Maybe it was inevitable that Target Corp. would eventually expand into retail politics.

And now here it is, that round red sign of the times, atop a first-of-its-kind nonpartisan online calendar of public-affairs events! Just go to www.ccc.localevent.net and check out the catchy slogan next to the iconic bull's-eye: "Click. Find. Engage."

Nate Garvis, vice president of governmental affairs for Target, first got to talking about the idea with some fellow policy geeks during the latest outbreak of the red state/blue state color war. "We were just reacting to this mean-spirited season of politics," he explains. "Both camps, both presidential campaigns, were really good at spin, both hoping to take advantage of people who weren't really listening."

And so Target joined forces with the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute for Public Affairs and the Citizens League to create the Community Connections Calendar.

The site has been up and running for just two weeks and posted events are still a little sparse. But there are already quite a few offerings that might absorb a little of your pent-up political energy. Thursday, December 2, for example, scholars at the College of St. Catherine will discuss the impact of U.S. foreign policy on women in Iraq and Afghanistan. On Monday, December 6, the Humphrey Institute holds a lunch forum on Bush's second term featuring speakers from those polar opposites the Brookings Institution and the National Journal. For a special kind of individual, it may just seem that the holidays are starting early this year.

Serious policy fiends can register to be notified about forums on particular topics. You know you want to be the first one to hear about changes to the city's plumbing codes! Groups interested in having their events posted should call the Citizens League at 651.293.0575.

Unconvinced? Hey, if Target can make a vacuum cleaner into an icon of style, maybe they can make wonkdom fun again.

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