Thursday, October 9, 2008

BattleGround Report: Volunteers in NE Ohio

Photo: Michelle in Parma, 'Run All the Way And Through the Tape!'

We're Changing the
World, Small Step
By Small Step...

By Katie Hogan

Heartland Cafe

Oct. 8, 2008, Parma, Ohio - Volunteering for Obama in Northwest Ohio is a truly amazing campaign. It's be real honor to be present for it. The campaign office I'm working from, on Ridge Road at Virginia Ave, next to the Rudy's bakery & pierogi joint, covers Parma and Seven Hills. Located some 25 miles south southwest of downtown Cleveland, Parma has 80,000 residents, mostly white ethnic, quite Catholic, with smattering of diversity.

But it's a suburb - never met a strip mall it didn't love - and they don't quite have sidewalks figured out. From some hilltops - you see all of Cleveland to the north. I arrived Sunday, Sept. 28th, was greeted happily - and hungrily I now recognize, by the members of campaign staff - all twenty-somethings who've been on the campaign trail months up to over a year. They have devoured me ever since. I work about 14 - 16 hours a day average - due to my advanced years; the others are average 18 - 19 hours a day.

On any given day - we have a good number of scheduled volunteers working out of the office (much more on the weekend), and increasing numbers of folks walking in, because they've heard they can get a yard sign by signing in.

And that's just the locals' traffic. There are now six out of state volunteers, most working through Election Day. (Chicago is well represented in this group!) Most of us are staying with a 'supporter host family'. These families are often active volunteers in their own right in this sprawling machine of a campaign.

My family is in Strongsville - another 15 miles south west of Parma. They're incredibly gracious - Magaly is losing sleep staying up 'til I get home to watch her TIVO'd Daily Show together and talk about the campaign.

In my first nine days, I knocked over 400 doors, making face to face contact probably 150 times. I took part in Voter Registration at Tri-C, the city college in Cleveland, convened a coffee held in an apartment complex, and helped organize and run two team-building meetings for northwest Parma and Seven Hills. I've begun to learn and use the Vote Builder software tool, used by the campaign to keep impressive and up to date daily track of all knocks, contacts, phone calls and their results.

There are nightly conference calls. These get under way about 10pm, in which every district reports totals, they're tallied and celebrated - through a handheld Blackberry, with lots of people in on each call, across the state in 23 other offices simultaneously.

The big news was Monday nights' registration numbers - on the final day alone, the campaign registered a very large number of voters. I'll wait for the final numbers, but it is my understanding an overwhelming 94% of Ohio's adults over 18 are now registered to vote!

We're now pushing early voting and continued neighborhood team building, for the massive GOTV ( 'Get Out The Vote' ) efforts we'll be mounting. The bottom line: I can't write enough down; I am so grateful to have this opportunity. Because what we are doing is changing the world. Probably sounds a bit ostentatious.
But it's quite the opposite; it is specifically very small.

Small, simple direct actions. Motivated by serving the greater good. Conversations with individual fellow citizens at their front door - I am filled with the sensation of serving the unconscious mind of greater American people drawn toward ownership of their citizenship - on a broader, bigger scale than previously witnessed. The sense is of a culmination of all the earlier great movements toward civil rights, equality, justice.

You know I've been pointed toward this experience my whole life. And it's happening.
I know I'm sending this to many who have and are participating - ain't it grand? I also want to emphasize that all receiving this can still take meaningful, significant part in this momentous shift of American political consciousness.

The only way I had the time to write this, is I took a quick 48 hour trip home - to tend to business matters at the cafe and deal with the students I've sorta run out on. I'm back in Parma Friday to rejoin the troops for the final assault.
We currently have the potential to win Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana and Michigan as well as Ohio and other 'battleground' states. Despite good margins as I write, never doubt our campaign will need to run 'all the way to the through the tape', as Michelle Obama put it last night.

Obama must win by a landslide. Do not let poll numbers make you over confident!
Remember our opponents get more vicious as their grip on power is pried loose - let's pray they don't hurt the world population even more seriously than they already have.

Your practice right now makes a huge difference and is needed.
Travel to canvass in one of the neighboring states is by far the biggest gift - face to face being the most impacting practice. But making phone calls and planning to help GOTV right here in Chicago is also really needed - a slew of us that normally do that are out of town! Also important - keeping pressure on the Congress through this financial crisis, ever more loudly joining fellow citizens in taking back our government - always a good habit to develop, and something our next President will rely upon like none previous.

Every single action you take has an effect. So, please, go forth and take action - do yourself a favor and be a part of something truly wonderful and as my campaign colleagues would say "awesome"!


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Obama/Biden 08

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