Made it to Austin without any problems yesterday. They have a very good bus service that cost $0.50 to get from the airport to the downtown hotel! I’m here with a large group of folks to gather and network around the theme of blogging. The main focus is on political blogging, but there are efforts at hand to expand the scope of topics into areas not normally associated with politics. Colorado has a decent contingent down here again. johne, pacified, em dash, greenchiledem and others are all here.
Today’s schedule is a little light on substance. I’m going to a state level blogger caucus within the hour, then a state blog lunch. After lunch, a DNC strategizing session, a break, then a science bloggers caucus, which I’m excited to go to. The kick-off really starts tonight with former Gov. Howard Dean addressing the group. I attended an address he gave at last year’s YearlyKos, my first time seeing him in person, and understood for the first time how he was able to generate so much enthusiasm.
I’ll provide updates as the day goes on.
[Update 10P CDT]:
It’s been a good first day. The state level blogger caucus was led by one of Colorado’s finest, though they didn’t relish the opportunity to moderate. I think they did a very fine job of allowing the group to develop the conversation. We talked about best practices and success stories. SquareState and Colorado Confidential were discussed more than once. Some interesting tips included maintaining a relationship with state party communication staff, writing a column in alternative weeklies in addition to online work, working with the university system (important for Colorado with regard to Bruce Benson @ CU!), boosting commentors or diarists by direct communication and front-page promotion (something that S2 editors are good at), and working to develop new voices by reaching out to under-represented demographics. I got a contact with the National Wildlife Federation – one more resource to battle climate change deniers/delayers.
I inadvertently got in a discussion with ActBlue and johne regarding online fundraising opportunities and tips. I do want to mention that I’m very glad I wore a Jared Polis for Congress button – I’ve received numerous positive comments regarding his candidacy and his utilization of ActBlue resources. I’ve liked the things ActBlue can do for good candidates and the progressive movement. It was a pleasure to talk to some of their staff.
The last caucus I attended was the science bloggers’ caucus. This was very well attended by a range of people. Devilstower and DarkSyde from DailyKos moderated the session. Two years ago, a similar session got caught up in an evolution/creationism discussion for the entire hour. While still very important and relevant, they felt that energy policy was a topic more worthy of debate and discussion this year. There is a community organized effort that I have neglected to blog about for some time: Energize America. This country needs a realistic energy policy platform enacted right now. Progressives seem to be the only group willing and capable of pushing that set of policies. The intersection of energy and transportation, for instance, is a huge piece of low hanging fruit that needs to be picked. Renewable energy development won’t do a thing about our transportation addiction to oil until we make electric cars a viable option. Converting city fleets of cars and providing incentives to convert taxis and school buses to electric vehicles were presented as a possible solution to producing the stability in the market needed for that technology.
Energize America had come up with 20 pieces of legislation (written by the community) that a Democratic majority could introduce and pass that would revolutionize our energy policies. At today’s caucus meeting, they told the group a slimmed down set of bills is likely to be their focus in the near future. The group has a 9:00A session tomorrow that I’m going to attend to get more details. Gov. Ritter in Colorado has shown that a progressive energy policy can be successfully pushed by Democrats that are running for office and supported by those already in office. A lot more work needs to be done in this arena. In a larger sense, the Overton window needs to be moved and I’ll have more on that in the future.
The big celebrity event of the day was the Keynote address earlier this evening. Gen. Wesley Clark and DNC Chairman Howard Dean spoke to 2,000 of us. Both gentlemen did a good job. Dean’s talent for connecting to a crowd was on full display. Interestingly, the energy in the room was different this year than it was for the speech Dean gave last year in Chicago. My impression is that bloggers have grown up a lot in the past year. We’ve experienced some setbacks and frustrations in these last twelve months and we’re not as hype-able by someone, even someone as talented as Gov. Dean. Don’t get me wrong – there was plenty of excitement at a number of points in his speech. But for some points that were also made last year, the crowd didn’t bite as hard as they did before. I would like to think that bloggers are looking for more action and less talk than before. I know I am.
So I’m starting off with the Energize America discussion tomorrow morning. I might go to the Netroots platform session. Markos and Harold Ford Jr. are scheduled to have a discussion during lunch. No-holds barred, I hope. Then Restructuring Science Policy followed by Progressive NASA & Space Policy in the afternoon. Gosh, that sounds wonky!
Cross posted at SquareState.