Tuesday, December 13, 2005

BlogLeft Wrap-up Part II - Electric Boogaloo

After a yummy buffet lunch of salmon and chicken with assorted side dishes, our group split off into three breakout groups. The topics were:

Getting involved in the Democratic Party - Led by Kate Donaghue, DSC Wonder Woman and Co-Chair of Field Services

HR 4194 and Other Boondoggles of Online Free Speech - Led by Stirling Newberry

Beyond Blogging: Where Will the Technology Take Us? - Led by Jon Garfunkel of Civilities.net

There were note takers assigned to each group and those notes will become part of the final report of the conference. I participated in Kate Donaghue's breakout session on getting involved in the state Democratic party. Rep. Mike Festa (D-Melrose), candidate for Middlesex DA dropped by to say hello at the break and he and his campaign staffer got to Tatnuck early so they sat in with our breakout group.

We started off by going around the table and talking about how we got involved in politics. The group ran the gamut from some growing up in families that were always involved, to some volunteering in local communities and working their way up the political ladder to some of us just being disappointed with past election outcomes.

Kate described the importance of getting involved with our local democratic town/ward/city committees. Even if you're not quite sure what's going on, if you keep attending meetings and ask questions eventually you'll learn about how things run.

Then we had a discussion about how the state party works and how to get elected to the state committee. Kate does a great job of breaking down how the MDP works. We had discussions about the upcoming caucuses and convention in 2006. Specifically the rule changes and how to run for delegate to the convention. Kate let us know that the Preliminary Call to Convention 2006 was now online at the MDP website.

After the breakout sessions, we came back together and had a brief summary of all the breakout groups and we also had a group discussion about what we'd all like to see come out of this conference. These are some of the ideas that had the most discussion.

  • Blogger Candidate Forum - A town hall style candidate forum moderated by bloggers.
  • Blogger Recruitment - Encourage folks who are reading blogs, or someone who is active in political groups or volunteer groups to start blogging and give those new bloggers help on how to start and maintain a blog.
  • Technical Blogging Help - Help established solitary bloggers update their blog format to community blogs so that more people can participate.
  • Massachusetts Activism Wiki - a Wiki that would list activist groups by town/city. That way, when projects come up, or other activists need help they could go to the map and find contact information.
  • BlogLeft MA Meta Blog - a blog that will be used to coordinate the activities listed above.

The first, of what will hopefully be, many BlogLeft conferences was an unqualified success. I am so happy for Lynne because she has put so much time and energy into making this happen. She has, in her usual generous fashion, spread the gratitude around, but honestly she is the one who had the energy and passion to get these cats herded, and to pull off an exciting and interesting conference.

Some final thoughts:

I thought the conference went very well. I hope in the future to see more women bloggers and bloggers of color attend these conferences.

Oh, the Bloggers and the Massachusetts Democratic Party should be friends... I am very encouraged to see these two groups get together and gain a better understanding of each other. Bloggers sometimes get the reputation as being hostile toward the state party. Speaking only for this blogger, I have a great deal of respect for the majority of people involved in the state party. These are volunteers who work hard on getting more people involved in the process.

My beef is with the small minority of folks running things in towns/wards/cities where they are hostile to people who are trying to get involved and want to protect their power positions by limiting access to the process. Or when the state party doesn't follow it's own rules.

Other than that, I'm good. :-) Going forward I hope bloggers and the MDP can see each other as allies (in some things) and not combatants.

I learned a lot at this conference, but I think the best part of all was to meet people who I have enjoyed reading all this time. Having met and talked with these fine folks, I find myself enjoying their blogging more because now not only can I read the blogs, but now I can really "hear' them as well.

Can't wait 'til next year!