It was truly a great weekend here in Harrisburg (I haven’t left as yet).Congratulations to all the sponsors and volunteers who put this event together in several short months. Aside from a few glitches (giveaway items made in China for example) things went very well. The energy level was incredibly high, everything flowed smoothly considering there were 600 people moving about a hotel not quite designed to accommodate so many, schedules were adhered to and so much networking was going on Eileen Connelly of SEIU Healthcare had to play traffic cop in the downstairs hallway. Thank you Eileen, I don’t think I’d have made it to the Chestnut Room for a couple of my panels without that assistance.
Ms. Connelly received the Anna Burger Award for working to grow a progressive majority in Pennsylvania and, here’s where she’ll get ticked at me, I would have preferred to see such an award go to someone for whom this isn’t their job. As much as I like and admire her, this is her job. I can think of numerous people who were in that room for which this is their passion and who don’t get paid to do it. It’s just my opinion but I think such an award should recognize folks like Lani Frank, Chuck Pennacchio, Tom Waters, Roger Lund, Jon Fox, Steve Crockett, and on and on.
Rick Smith and Jake Long brought The Rick Smith Show directly to the hotel and spent all weekend interviewing candidates and guests for their radio show which airs every weekend here in the Harrisburg area. They do an excellent job in addition to Charles Showalter and Steve Crockett of countering right wing radio here in Pennsylvania. I Co-Host Democratic Talk Radio with Steve, Walt Garvin and Dana Garrett and we need support and sponsorship to continue our work. Don’t just get mad at Rush help us provide counter programming.
I want to thank the panelists who came and participated in the Blogging 101 panel with me. Mark Cohen, Alan Franklin, Beth Becker and Chris Bowers. Chris took the train from Philadelphia and back just to help on this and he was super, great and very informative as were all the other panelists. I was asked to provide the PowerPoint presentation online and will as soon as possible.
I got four hours sleep Friday night, I think, from all the energy emanating from this event. I got to bed very late Friday night with all the events and receptions and trying to touch base with as many people as possible. I never even made it to Joe Hoeffel’s reception. This was a super networking opportunity and I met many new people doing good, important work all over Pennsylvania and the nation. Mark Karlin came from Chicago (Buzzflash) and Alan Franklin (ProgressNow) from Denver. Many of my friends were here for whom all I was able to do was pass them in the hallways and say hello. I wish there was more time.
I frequently heard the lament that there were so many good workshops and panels that people wanted to attend them all. I thank all those who attended our Blogging panel, Alan Franklin’s workshop on using video and YouTube on which I assisted and our Planned Parenthood panel on women’s issues. I also attended the panel with Sen. Daylin Leach on marriage equality. I was running back and forth to the train station yesterday morning so I missed the keynote speech. Does anyone have it on video?
Leo Gerard was a very good speaker Saturday evening and I imagine disgruntled many Democrats watching on PCN when he castigated them for being weak kneed. The applause from the crowd had to get the attention of Democrats who used to meet in this very same room for State Committee meetings. The progressive vote isn’t automatically Democratic or Green. Candidates and parties must earn the votes and respect of these activists.
I did have several opportunities to meet and chat with people and make new friends. I met Chris Goldstein of NORML and found we had a mutual love of Santa Fe. There were people for whom we’ve known or been in contact but never met face to face. There were a few people who were hoping to get together and meet this weekend but never caught up with them because there simply so many folks here and so much happening. Often you just someone you knew in the packed hallway, said hello and kept moving so as not to gum up the works.
The hotel staff here at The Sheraton was super. Aside from the freezing ballroom last night (it didn’t help that Sen. Specter was keeping one of the doorways open and cold air was streaming through) service was excellent, food was good and rooms in good shape. Anything we needed for our panels was provided quickly and with good cheer. It was so cold in the ballroom many people (including five at my table) wore their coats all evening. Regular blasts of frigid air hit us every time a door opened. It was so cold my dinner got cold before I was able to finish it.
Several friends of mine were instrumental in organizing and running this event and I’d like to salute them. First and foremost is Mike Morrill of Keystone Progress. Mike told me last night he hadn’t eaten all day. Beth Becker, Jon Fox and Jane Palmer worked tirelessly planning and running this along with Charles Corbit and others. Congratulations on a job well done.