WineCamp wrap

A quick break from directly campaign related news…
Jen and I went to a campout event, WineCamp Calaveras, this past weekend. This was a lightly structured “unconference” that you can read more about here, but the basic gist is that you get a group of people together for a weekend, feed them, and let them make up their own agenda for what they want to talk about. In this case, an enormous quantity of really spectacular wine was involved, too. There are tons of pictures tagged on flickr. Click for more…

We were both a little nervous since from the attendee list it looked as if, even with the focus on nonprofits + technology, we were the only ones connected to overtly political groups. That was true, and it initially triggered my deep fear that too many people who want to see change in this world – which was really everyone at this event – aren’t focusing on structural issues. But given the conversations we had I think that might be changing.
The first good sign was that so very many people asked us about Speak Out. I’m not sure I got to everyone, so let me recap: we are about figuring out what the heck progressivism is and connecting people to state politics with electronic tactics. It’s that simple. (and that complicated) We hope you’ll (at least) sign up for our low volume email list, and thank you very much for asking!

I’ve been having these feelings of really deep gratitude for this weekend. Maybe it had something to do with being out in nature – the camping and visiting Natural Bridges park (the Calaveras one, not the Santa Cruz one) and swimming in the amazing cave there. As a connoisseur of swimming holes, this was at least in my top 3. It was the perfect way to wrap up a day of intense thinkyness. Nature does good things to people’s brains.
But back to the gratitude: I’m so happy that we live where we live and do what we do and have had a chance to talk to the people we’ve talked to. Even as difficult as things are politically right now this is what makes it worth it. This is why we fight. Watching people open up to talk about politics just is one of the best feelings out there and that happened so many times this weekend. From asking a grad student in politics and religion for his help in defining progressivism to hearing from a charter school teacher about what we have to do to move the education system in our state forward to seeing people’s reactions to the definition of progressivism we’re working on (current elevator pitch: “expanding cognitive liberty,” which seemed to go over pretty well) – it was just a whole weekend of terrific conversations.
Compared to the raw quality and sheer number of great conversations, maybe this is not that big of a deal, but this weekend also completely pushed my conference button, and without having to spend hundreds of dollars of someone else’s money on conference fees and hotels and overpriced lunches. Technology and politics are both these massively voluminous conversations. If politics is to want something, so is technology. BarCamps could very well be the beginning of a more economically accessible and sustainable point for people to connect with these broad movements.
So now it’s back to reality: the election and working through all the sources listed in our voter guide and watching the big ugly money pour in. But if this event sounds like fun look at to see when the next one is or let us know. If there’s more interest, we might try to do a similar event, focused on politics, at some point. In the meantime, a million thanks to everyone who put the event together and to all the participants for a deeply satisfying weekend.