The Tornado Touches Down

Dear friends and relatives, here is some news from the leading edge of the Democratic Presidential race — live from Milwaukee, WI!

My friend Geri came to Milwaukee yesterday, and what a whirlwind she is! Her plane landed at 7:30 a.m., and by 9 she was up in Shorewood organizing and distributing VHS tapes and DVDs.

Geri is a project co-ordinator for National Grass Roots for Dean.

This is a group un-affiliated with the official Dean for America campaign, and is made up of about 40 leaders and a hundred or so supporters. When they come up with a project, they reach out to the hundreds of thousands of on-line Dean supporters to draw people in to volunteer.

Geri produced an 18 minute video on Howard Dean, showing clips of him discussing policy, talking with supporters and segments of his interviews on Meet the Press and ABC-News. This is a video specifically targeted to undecided voters in Wisconsin.

Anyhow, this video was posted on the Internet in a format that could be burned onto DVDs by supporters all over the country. Over a hundred people downloaded this, and started to burn DVDs, sending the DVDs to one Keith Schmitz in Shorewood, to be distributed to undecided voters.

Then, on Wednesday night, someone came up with the idea to raise money on-line to get a couple of thousand VHS tapes made. Overnight over $4,000 was raised, and Keith had 3,500 tapes duplicated at a local firm.

So, Geri and Keith started out yesterday taking boxes of tapes up to Dean HQ and instructing the canvassers how to use them: Only give them to undecided voters, not people supporting the other guys; try to get a pledge from the voter “will you give us fifteen minutes of your time to watch this tape?”; never leave the video if no-one is home; etc.

They then started to canvass in Shorewood, and soon a television news crew was following them around. Channel 12, the local ABC affiliate, aired a very nice 2 minute story on this grass roots effort on both their 6&10 p.m. newscasts! Wonderful! You can find the story here.

In any event, things have been exciting and hectic around here! Lanya, from North Carolina, a friend of Geri’s from the campaign was up in Fond Du Lac to campaign, and was going crazy with the local rganization, so she drove down here yesterday evening to stay with us and work in Milwaukee. She is going to canvass at gay churches, black barber shops and grocery stores, and other targeted “markets” today. She is a bundle of energy, not quite as frenetic as Geri, but every bit as committed!

I’ll let you go now, but first a quick little story:

Geri came by here at about 1:30 yesterday afternoon to go to Abu’s Middle Eastern restaurant for lunch, a block and a half from our house. No sooner had we ordered than Lars, a former co-worker of mine, came in with his mother. Lars knows that I worked Iowa for Dean, and asks “Are you going to work on the Dean campaign today?” Geri shoots back “He’s having lunch with the Grass Roots campaign!” Lars went on to explain that he and another friend were going to be distributing videos on canvass, so I introduced Geri as the producer of the video. She gave him the rap on how to handle the distribution, etc. etc. After we finish eating, she chases him down to make him take twoboxes of tapes (100
units) with him as he goes!

This is just a snapshot of the mayhem we are living with here in Milwaukee right now. The primary is Tuesday, and then the storm will pass, but for right now we are in the midst of it, and it’s a hoot!

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