Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Back from my trip to TX

and about to launch my new revised website for my biz. What that means is not much blogging for now.

I did want to mention that raising children with consciences is a demanding business! Our two girls (19 and 12) are both vegetarians (Johannah is vegan) and Thanksgiving is about to challenge us to a whole new level of conscientious eating.

Today, I googled Trader Joe's "cage free" eggs because for Caitrin, "cage-free" is not enough. Too many of these "cage-free" farms are still injurious to the chickens. We discovered, however, that TJ's eggs really are humanely produced and so, we can now use REAL eggs in our pumpkin pies, and so on, for Caitrin.

Of course that doesn't resolve Johannah's eating convictions, which refuse to be a part of any animal product produced in any context. But one egg at a time, right?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The World Reacts

In case it isn't entirely obvious by now, I spend a lot of time wandering the Internet. I have a couple of forums where I post quite regularly that have nothing intrinsically to do with politics. Yet the week following the election seems to have prompted so many reactions! The other day, while I was reading this serious post of marital pain on one board, the Aussie writer took a paragraph out of the middle to say, "And let me just take a moment to say 'thank you Americans for voting in Barack Obama!' We were so thrilled to watch it happen and feel hopeful that the United States will be a place we can look to for leadership again." She went on to say that it blew her away that we really did it - really elected a black man.

Then I visited another place I post. Same thing. Canadians, Brits, Aussies all weighing in on how glad they are that we Americans got it right, that we took the chance to restore our reputation, that we offered them a vision of what it looks like to embrace our ideals.

Yesterday, a friend sent me an email with a note from her young-twenties daughter who is working in Rwanda. Elizabeth's goal is to empower women through her organization: AfricaGrassroots. I was completely amazed by her report of how her friends in Rwanda reacted to the news of Obama's election... but even more, I couldn't believe what they had to say about McCain!
Elizabeth is returning from Rwanda in a few weeks. They stayed up to watch the elections and the next day, she sent out this email to some friends. I thought you would enjoy, and appreciate, what she said.

I spent the very early hours of this morning sitting in front of a TV with about 10 Rwandan friends who stayed up the whole night to watch all the results come in. They screamed and cried tears of joy and pride when Obama won.

But surprisingly, their favorite part of the whole evening? McCain's speech!

They watched in wonder and amazement as McCain spoke highly of Obama and said that we need to now come together as a country to support him. They said "Can you believe this?? The loser is now supporting and congratulating the winner! He is telling America to come together as one country to support the new president, even though he lost!! Could you imagine if something like this happened in Africa!! Only in America!!"

Friends from across Rwanda called me all morning to say congratulations- and some just screamed into the phone and I couldn't understand a word of what they were saying.

On the other hand, there is a great deal of suffering and violence going on across the border in Congo right now. Today's victory and celebration of freedom provides a stark contrast to the daily reality of brutality and oppression in so many places in Africa.

Living in a country free of violence is such a luxury.... we should never forget how truly lucky we are.

Love from Kigali,
Maybe there is something to that "light on a hill" imagery we keep hearing about. It's a great country, isn't it?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The end of fall...

Once God had finished giving Barack Obama a perfectly sunny day for the election in Ohio, he sent winter with a vengeance. We're experiencing coat weather. The trees are about finished dropping leaves and suddenly the sky is grouchy gray.

Inside, a little fire glows though. All week, the daily reminders that we are on the other side of this historic election bring me such joy! My pastor on Sunday gave a sermon I want to recap. I'll do that in another post. For now, hope your week/day is filled with optimism, satisfaction and a cozy fire in the hearth.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Turning 47....

Today's my birthday and though being in the last third of the forties feels a little sad to me, I woke up and two facts brought a smile to my lips:

Barack Obama is also 47 and everyone says he's young. :)

My "skinny jeans" (Levi 501's) that I've had on a shelf for the last five years fit me this morning! All that canvassing paid off in more than a win for Obama.

So I can now say: 47 rocks! (Oh, and Jo(e) and Dave are also 47, and they are both waaaay cool! Anyone else?)

Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters to Realize

How Empty Their Lives Really Are.

Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are

This just was a little too close to home to not laugh hilariously. Remember: it comes from the Onion.

Yes We Can, er, Will, er, Did! Or something. :)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Roger Cohen's op-ed at the NY Times

This article moved me today. But here's my favorite take-away line:
Rosa Parks sat in 1955. Martin Luther King walked in 1963. Barack Obama ran in 2008. That our children might fly.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Precinct #44

Meet my canvassing partners: Jayla, Jada, Jaesa and Kayla.

I arrived yesterday at precinct #44 with a list of more than 70 doors to knock. In Butler county, it's a critical precinct: section 8 housing with many Democrats who often don't vote to the rate that they could. It has always gone red. Senator Kerry lost Ohio by 7 votes per precinct. My one goal for this election: win seven votes. Steal them from the GOP. We knew we needed #44 this time if we were going to do our part for this election, to cut into the Butler County GOP votes.

As a result, we sent a canvasser first thing in the morning and then I went back to all the same doors three hours later, to follow up and make sure they all voted. I arrived in the bright sunshine, parked my car and was immediately surrounded by curious children. I let them in on my goal for the day and the next thing you know, I was led by the hand door-by-door.

Jaesa grabbed the clipboard and Jada helped me find the door numbers.

"Stay on the stoop. This house? They got a big dog and he bites."

"Is my momma on yo' list?"

I'd look (uh-oh, no!) and say, "Yes! Let's go see your momma." And we'd go.

One little boy saw my white button and asked to swap me for a blue one. I gladly did. Then I gave the blue one away to a grandmother who had never had the chance to get to an HQ to obtain one for herself. Her comment, "I just want a piece of history for myself." Well of course she does! We all do.

I was introduced to everyone, spoke to many more families than my list indicated. One woman had been told that she couldn't vote because she was no longer living in her precinct. Not true! I called our field organizer and got campaign lawyers to tell us how to help her vote. Provisional ballot. Found three more in this neighborhood who had been also discouraged from voting for the same reason.

People stopped me to find out the polling location, when the polls closed, wondering how to actually vote! One woman told me that the polling place was on a street where they began construction on election day right in the front making parking nearly impossible. So I reminded every voter: be patient. Park, vote. (What kind of bone-headed city worker set up road work on election day?!)

I met so many wonderful people, had a gang of about six kids trailing me by the time I was done (including two boys on bikes). It took me nearly four hours to meet everyone and help them get out to vote. I saw many who had voted between the first and second canvass.

By the time I left, I felt so wonderful that this group, these lower income families living in what we sometimes call "White Chester," were going to see an African American elected and their votes would help him get there.

Last night, our big Butler County volunteer team met at Champs to watch the results roll in. CNN projected for Ohio, and we cheered, wept openly, hugged each other, screamed till we were hoarse. We knew we had done it!

When CNN projected Obama President Elect, the house fell down. Noise, screams, phone calls, text messages, everyone hugging each other, even waiters rolled into our raucous party! I felt used up, totally exhausted, thoroughly happy... and then, Allan, our canvassing captain hurried to me to drag me over to one of our co-workers.

One of the poll workers from Precinct #44 had come to the party. Allan said, "Listen to her. You won't believe it."

"Julie, Precinct #44 went blue.... by 11 votes."

My jaw dropped. 11 votes.

She went on, "They streamed in all afternoon until about 5:00 p.m. I watched them and they came with their door hangers, looking up the polling place and showing up to vote. They were happy and proud."

That's when this election became utterly personal for me. All that work, the thousands of calls and door knocks, the hours, the passion, the writing... It all felt deeply worthwhile. I know my community in a way I never did before, I felt bonded to people I had not even known lived within miles of me, I felt united in spirit with the hopes of my neighbors.

11 votes. When I started back in February, I had hoped to get 7. We did it.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Eugene Robinson makes the most eloquent statement

about what this election means to the African American community, and by extension, then, what it means to and tells each of us about ourselves as Americans.

A New Kind of Pride

He writes:
Whoever wins this election, I understand what Barack Obama meant when he said his faith in the American people had been "vindicated" by his campaign's success. I understand what Michelle Obama meant, months ago, when she said she was "proud of my country" for the first time in her adult life. Why should they be immune to the astonishment and vertigo that so many other African Americans are experiencing? Why shouldn't they have to pinch themselves to make sure they aren't dreaming, the way that I do?


For African Americans, at least those of us old enough to have lived through the civil rights movement, this is nothing short of mind-blowing. It's disorienting, and it makes me see this nation in a different light.

You see, I remember a time of separate and unequal schools, restrooms and water fountains -- a time when black people were officially second-class citizens. I remember moments when African Americans were hopeful and excited about the political process, and I remember other moments when most of us were depressed and disillusioned. But I can't think of a single moment, before this year, when I thought it was within the realm of remote possibility that a black man could be nominated for president by one of the major parties -- let alone that he would go into Election Day with a better-than-even chance of winning.

Let me clarify: It's not that I would have calculated the odds of an African American being elected president and concluded that this was unlikely; it's that I wouldn't even have thought about such a thing.

African Americans' love of country is deep, intense and abiding, but necessarily complicated. At the hour of its birth, the nation was already stained by the Original Sin of slavery. Only in the past several decades has legal racism been outlawed and casual racism been made unacceptable, at least in polite company. Millions of black Americans have managed to pull themselves up into mainstream, middle-class affluence, but millions of others remain mired in poverty and dysfunction.
Keep reading. So moving.

I wanted to add that this is the core of my admiration for Barack Obama - he represents a new era in our country's self-understanding. In nearly taking the highest office in the land (and may well do so), he has shattered the belief that race can never be transcended. More tomorrow. For today, GOTV!


What makes us all equal is the right to vote. Today's the day. Exercise your right, follow your conscience.

Thanks for all the wonderful conversations over this election season with me. Thanks for reading along when you disagreed, for engaging the ideas I offer, for considering the points I raise.

I love this country; I love its ability to reinvent itself. I'm moved this morning thinking that Obama has made it this far and could only achieve that dream in America. France wouldn't do it. We have shown a remarkable willingness to grow, transform, and reach out to the common good. To judge a person not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character. That day, that dream is fulfilled.

Vote! It's your most basic right.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Obama's grandmother dies today... one day shy

I'm without words. Here's what Obama's sister wrote:
A statement from Obama and his sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng:

It is with great sadness that we announce that our grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, has died peacefully after a battle with cancer. She was the cornerstone of our family, and a woman of extraordinary accomplishment, strength, and humility. She was the person who encouraged and allowed us to take chances. She was proud of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren and left this world with the knowledge that her impact on all of us was meaningful and enduring. Our debt to her is beyond measure.

Our family wants to thank all of those who sent flowers, cards, well-wishes, and prayers during this difficult time. It brought our grandmother and us great comfort. Our grandmother was a private woman, and we will respect her wish for a small private ceremony to be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, we ask that you make a donation to any worthy organization in search of a cure for cancer.
Is that even fair? I can't imagine the conflicted emotions Barack must be feeling today with his general election tomorrow tied to his grief over losing his grandmother.

Also, another sad note: Obama Nev. director Terence Tolbert died today. Can you imagine working on this campaign for two years and dying the day before the election?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Church this morning.... the sense of history grows!

This morning at church, our pastor preached a sermon called "I am my brother's keeper." In it, he talked about five murders this weekend (one of a local African American pastor and four others of young blacks in Avondale). He is doing a series on how the church can make a difference to the neighborhoods of Cincinnati by knocking on every door for Jesus.

The sermon made an interesting contrast to the Youtbue he played at the start of the service. We watched a video montage of the history of the African American struggle for civil rights. It included pictures and drawings that traced the history through Jim Crow, Civil Rights, lynchings, MLK Jr., Katrina and more. By the end, when the "Change we need" signs flooded the screen, we were all in tears.

Church ended with everyone reminding each other to vote, offering rides to the precincts, finding out where to get buttons and more. The whole experience was so exhilarating. You could feel the palpable sense of anticipation over what promises to be a historic day... one RFK Jr. predicted on the campaign trail in 1968:
Things are moving so fast in race relations a Negro could be president in 40 years. There’s no question about it, in the next 40 years a Negro can achieve the same position that my brother has. Prejudice exists and probably will continue to, but we have tried to make progress and we are making progress. We are not going to accept the status quo.

40 years later, 2008... here we are, on the brink of that momentous occasion. Don't underestimate the value to our national pride, international identity and internal race relations the election of Obama represents. I'm in awe, to be quite blunt about it. Humbled to be a part of it.

Tonight, Obama speaks to 35,000 at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati. We're taking the kids. We want them to remember seeing the next president of the United States of America in their own city.