… starts with a journey of a couple hundred miles. This past weekend, I participated in a Drive For Change event to Reno, Nevada. Some of the incidentals of this trip have reaffirmed my faith in the inherent goodness of most people. The unofficial theme of the weekend seemed to be "relying on the kindness of strangers".
I ended up carpooling up, on very short notice, with a nice woman named Diana, from Berkeley. I found her through CraigsList (although I think DriveToNevada.com is probably a better option if you've got more lead time). I was there expecting I'd have to drive up, and pay for, the whole thing myself, but she took her share (or slightly more than her share) of the driving and gas.
I ended up staying in one of the hotels that the campaign recommended---I think either the Rodeway or the Travelodge on Market... they're more or less inextricably linked. But they gave me two beds, and large though I am, I can only really use one. So, on Saturday night, I found a field organizer who seemed to be organizing room sharing, and let her know that I had an extra bed. Within half an hour, she had found someone to share the room with me. Even better, he was also headed to Colorado (although somewhat sooner than I), so he managed to get me directly in touch with the travel coordinators both in the bay area and in Colorado. I had spent much of the previous week trying and failing to find anybody from the bay area to talk to, and had had only brief contact with the Colorado folks, so it was great to be plugged in so directly.
Finally, while driving up, I found out that I found a sponsor from TravelForChange.org who was willing to pay for my trip out. I was driving, and couldn't get directly in touch with her, but when she called on Saturday, she said that she was willing to pay for me to either drive or fly out. To avoid being a burden on the campaign, as well as possibly carpool, I selected the driving option.
So much of what I've seen on the campaign has been that it operates on a Burning Man-esque sharing economy. There's lots of ways to let people know what your needs are, and there are similarly lots of people who have extra resources that they can't use, and once the two of you are put together, you can achieve a lot more than either could alone. I think it's wonderful! Of course, it's all people united by the same general principles, so I don't know how universalizable it could be, but even if it were spread a little bit more... I guess Craigs List is a step in the right direction.
The weekend itself was lots of fun. I mostly did canvassing, which was quite fun. I don't think I've ever really found so many people who didn't know who to vote for. All in all, I think my favorite moment was when I knocked on a door, and the man there opened the door, but not the screen door.
Me: "Hi, my name is Peter Combs, and I'm a volunteer for Barack Obama's Campaign for ----"
At this point, the man opened the screen door, stuck out his hand, and thanked me profusely for volunteering for the campaign.