Okay, first. In response to a flood a requests from readers, I have preserved last Friday’s April Fools blog for you pleasure. If you missed it that day, lucky you, you get a second chance. Thanks to everyone for the kind words about it, and if it made you laugh, throw some of those compliments over dto510′s way, because he put just as much energy into it as I did. Here’s the link.
Now onto business. I have to admit that I am kind of amazed to realize that in a couple of weeks, I will celebrate my five year anniversary of blogging. Five years is a long time! My energy for the blog has waxed and waned over that time, sometimes resulting in a somewhat manic frequency of posts, and other times going through long lulls where I just can’t muster the energy to write at all. I remain optimistic that some day I will reach a sustainable equilibrium, but who knows.
I get asked at least once a week why I started blogging, and the truth is that I don’t really have a good answer. I have about half a dozen answers that I give people depending on the context. At speaking engagements I talk about how I had started volunteering in a local election and was frustrated because I did not see myself or my concerns represented in the media narrative of the race. In more casual situations, I sometimes just shrug my shoulders and offer that I was drunk and it sounded fun. Both are true.
But whatever I was thinking when I wrote my first blog, it certainly was not that my blog and my interested in local politics would evolve into something as consuming as it has today. I never dreamed that thousands of people would visit regularly to see what I had to say. I never imagined that my blog would lead to so many wonderful friendships. And I certainly never dreamed that my little blog would end up becoming a platform for such wonderfully robust debates about civic issues as it has today.
Another thing people often ask me is what the goal of my blog is. That’s another one I haven’t always had a great answer for. What I have wanted to get out of doing this has changed a number of times over the years. When I started, I think it was mostly about trying to get people to see things my way. And while I still want to persuade readers that my perspective on the various issues I cover is the correct one, the degree to which I care about that has waned a great deal over time.
Lately, what I’ve sort of settled on is that I really want A Better Oakland to served as a springboard for civic engagement. I want this to be a place where people can come to learn about what’s going on in the city, get enough background information to be capable of participating in real discussions about complex issues, and eventually find something that interests them enough to go out and try to make a difference on that issue — whether that is just writing to their Councilmember for the first time, or speaking at a meeting, or volunteering for a local organization devoted to a subject they’re passionate about, getting involved in a local election campaign, joining a Board or Commission — whatever. Every small step someone takes towards participating actively in our government is an important one.
How well or poorly I think I am doing with that goal varies by the day. Sometimes I feel like it’s going nowhere. Other times, when I see one of my readers speaking at a meeting, or when I get CCed on messages to the Planning Commission or Council, or just when I read the long and thoughtful discussions that take place in the comments here, I feel really proud and gratified for being able to play even a small role in helping someone become more involved in the City.
LWV Making Democracy Work Awards
And so I was deeply flattered when I learned a couple of months ago that I would be one of the recipients of this year’s League of Women Voters Oakland “Making Democracy Work” awards. Every year, the League presents the awards to individuals and organizations who have made outstanding contributions to citizen engagement, government transparency, and civic life in Oakland.
This year’s organization award is going to the Bay Area Business RoundTable, and this year’s award for individuals is going to a group of Oakland bloggers for our contributions to creating a vibrant civic discourse. In addition to myself, Rebecca Saltman (or as you probably know her, “Becks”) of Living in the O, Jonathan Bair (“dto510″) of Future Oakland and The DTO, Debby Richman of Today in Montclair, Aimee Allison of OaklandSeen, and Zennie Abraham of Oakland Focus are being honored. The League has highlighted some noteworthy accomplishments of each of these individuals in their April newsletter.
It is such a tremendous honor to be recognized by the League for the work I’ve done here. That is something I definitely never imagined happening when I wrote my first blog.
LWV Annual Luncheon – Wednesday, April 27th
The Making Democracy Work awards will be given out at the League’s annual All-City Luncheon, which will be held on Wednesday, April 27th at The Pavilion at Scott’s Seafood Restaurant in Jack London Square. Registration and no-host bar begins at 11:30, and the luncheon itself lasts from noon to 1:30.
In addition to the presentation of the Making Democracy Work awards, the luncheon will also feature a talk I know that many of you will find particularly interesting. Martin Reynolds, editor of the Oakland Tribune, will be speaking about the media’s role in influencing perceptions of Oakland.
I would love so much to see a blogoaksphere contingent at the luncheon cheering on some of your favorite bloggers. After all, without you, our wonderful readers, there would be nothing noteworthy about our blogs, and I certainly would have stopped doing this a long time ago.
The luncheon is the League’s big annual fundraiser, so you can feel good buying your ticket knowing that your contribution will go to supporting important work like the local Easy Voter Guide (that thing is expensive to produce!).
So I hope to see some of you there! If you want to go, here’s how it works.
On the registration form, the League asks if you have anyone you’d like to sit with. For those who don’t know others who are attending, feel free to write “Blogoaksphere” on your form, and you will be seated with other bloggers and blog readers who did the same. If for some unimaginable reason you don’t want to meet other blog readers in real life, you may want to put down what you do for work. In that case, you can be seated with people in similar fields, and maybe make some new connections.
If you want to support the League even more enthusiastically, there is still time to become an underwriter of the luncheon. $900 gets you your own full table with ten seats to fill, and your name on the program as a Patron. $450 gets you a half table with five tickets and recognition on the program as a Donor. The form for becoming an underwriter is available here.
And as always, the League is continually recruiting members, and you can join online.
I really hope to see some of you guys there on April 27th!