Students of Dean

Josh Koenig and I are headed for Burlington Vermont for the week. We’re the first installment in the IT Nirvana program, under which a pair of geek volunteers spends a week with the campaign to help out with whatever the campaign’s support staff needs to do but which they’re too busy for.

All this week, Josh and I will be co-blogging on  our own sites and on correspondences.org and greaterdemocracy.org. If there are particular issues IT and Web/Blog issues, let us know.

A little background’s in order.

Josh and I met in May when we noticed each other’s passion for the Dean phenomenon. That’s when I learned about the DeanSpace project that Zack Rosen and Neil Drumm and Josh were brainstorming.

Driving While Aware

After Josh and I first spoke last May, I checked out his blog, OutlandishJosh, where I discovered an open and honest young man dealing with being aware and involved and without much of an outlet for his political sensibilities and energy. It made me realize that there are many life situations that set you up for, well, more than the usual challenges, and awareness is as great a barrier to a peaceful and happy life as the one that so many people face: Driving While Black.

Fast-forward 4 months and Zack is working full time at Dean HQ in Burlington, Josh is working full time for Music for America and I’m being drawn into the Dean campaign gravity well.

And the Sun Shone Third Forth

We had a great drive up to Burlington, Vermont, which is in the far north of the state. It was cloudy all the way up with occasionally heavy rain. But as we drove down the west spine of the Green Mountains into Burlington, the skies brightened dramatically with lemon light flooding the Champlain valley, Jesus rays everywhere. It’s easy to see how a doctor who’d spent his career caring for people in this valley would see answers where others see problems. It’s a place that seems to encourage optimism.

Josh and I have great conversations, riffing on each other’s points and finding themes in stories that sound merely reportorial. We stopped for a while in Middletown, CT, where I attended college at Wesleyan University. I described to Josh what it was like to be in that place in the early 60’s, before all the institutional structures were de-organized. Like Burlington in 2003, Wesleyan forty years ago was a place where all things seemed possible, where issues were taken seriously but not too solemnly. It seemed a contrast to his experience at NYU in the late 90’s.

On the Champlain Trail

We stopped by campaign headquarters about 8:30 and found it easily in a four story office building notable for its collection of employee cars and bikes after dark on a Sunday night, and the pizza truck heading back for more rations.

Zephyr and Zack joined us for dinner at a quite good Italian restaurant with outdoor seating on the pedestrian mall. The food was great, the conversation geekily stimulating and the weather perfect. I expected to hear Sinatra warbling Autumn in Vermont, which seems to have the same tune as Moonlight in New York.

Afterward we went to one of the campaign’s several Staff flop houses to watch Howard Dean appear on the first K Street episode. This crowd would have loved him if he’d sat on a whoopie cushion, but he actually was entertaining and impressive.

And so the odd couple’s wonky Adventure Camp begins.

1:08:04 AM    

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