Four months on and eight days to go

I got involved in the campaign, in an active way, far too late to make much of a difference, but I?ve been trying my best to do what I can. Along the way, I?m learning a few things about rapid online community building, effective online communication, and most of all, being part of a team.

My initial, trepid step, was to join a Kerry in 2004 Meetup. Its meetings were being held at a local diner in Northeast Philly called Tiffany?s. I have many good memories there and knowing the location took away some of my anxiety. There was no need to feel that way, as I soon found out. The group was a friendly, diverse bunch with something that we all cared about to that made it easy to relate. Among us was a veteran of WWII, a few middle age housewives, three or so middle age men who?ve taken part in various campaigns in the past, and most notably, Ross Schriftman candidate for PA State Representative. Except for Ross, all had little political experience. Most of us were motivated by this particular election to act, since the stakes are so high. All were types I could share a seat with on the train or a bus. Typical Joes just like myself.

Our organizer, Lynne, would pass out a newsletter to keep us abreast of opportunities to get involved and important news that we needed to be keyed in on. After a discussion on each item, we would have open discussion on the campaign and on what new outrage had come out of the Bush administration. We had some terrific conversations, and having Ross there gave us a perspective we wouldn?t have had otherwise. One of the things that bothered all of us was the lack of communication with us by the Kerry campaign. A few were in Dean meetups and lamented how different it had been. The disconnect here was an opportunity lost. The energy we shared was terrific. People wanted to get involved and do something, anything, to help.

One of the team, a very bright 16 year old, had been working on a site for group, but it was under used. Our Meetup forum, likewise, had few posts, but I failed to notice. I offered my help. If, I thought, the software were easier to post to, maybe more folks would add news items regularly and we could have a solid news channel that would serve to bring others in. This was a mistake. I didn?t take into account how folks in the group used the net, because if I did, I would have realized the site was overkill. Email was the primary way they communicated, and it would remain so. In any case, it did give me the opportunity to become very familiar with Civic Space. For an average blogger, CivicSpace provides too many features and is too complicated to configure, but if you are planning a site that will have multiple contributors, that aims to be a Slashdot-style community, I highly recommend it.

Our meetings have changed, partly on my suggestion, so that that we can donate our time to a campaign. We moved into Allyson Schwartz?s Northeast Philly headquarters and now meet every Tuesday. The last three weeks our team has helped to send out mailers, and do phone banking. Tim Kearney?s headquarters is in the same apartment building, so we?ve tried to help there as well. Our numbers have diminished a bit, Lynne had a personal situation arise and she had to hand over our leadership, but we?re all trying to help in anyway we can.

If you are in Northeast Philly, and would like to help a worthy candidate win office, call the Tim Kearney, Joe Hoeffel or Allyson Schwartz office. If you are in the burbs, Northeast of Philly, take it from me, you want to help Ross Schriftman.

If you?ve taken note that I am leaning hard towards Democratic candidates, well, I am. All three legislative house of our government are one party right now. Witness the results.

Tomorrow I’m going to post about the work I’ve been doing for PA Victory and provide you with some information on how to get involved with the campaign to elect Kerry for President in these last few days. It’s a community effort and we all have ways we can help.

BTW – Kerry and Clinton will be in Philly tomorrow.