FROM ALTA PRICE, Owner of BFIA:
After Howard Dean dropped out of the Presidential race, the thousands of committed activists inspired by his candidacy had to find an outlet for that passion, a way to preserve our community, and meaningful ways to apply our newly acquired online skills. We were delighted when we heard that the Dean for America community would continue, but of course with a new name.
When the new name – Democracy for America – was announced, in March of 2004, I got an email from Eric Davis, an Illinois super-volunteer I had met when I was in charge of recruiting Illinois volunteers to come to help out in eastern Iowa for the Dean campaign. Eric told me he had purchased the domain name democracyforillinois, and suggested I acquire democracyforiowa. Of course, I had never bought a domain name, and had only the vaguest idea what he was even talking about. But Eric directed me to GoDaddy and I bought the domain names.
Of course at that point I had no idea what to do with them! So I sent out an email to the Iowa super-volunteers letting them know what I had done. Linda Thieman emailed me back with a short message asking “have you decided what to do about web-hosting?” I answered “what’s web-hosting?” and that was the start of a very productive exchange (mostly Linda knowing what to do and me saying that sounds great!) that led to the creation of Blog for Iowa. Happy belated B-day, BFIA!
For Blog for Iowa’s 5th birthday, we asked some of the original Deaniacs and posters to write a few words to commemorate the occasion. BFIA’s founding Editor, Linda Thieman, starts us off with a look at how it all began.
It’s hard to believe that Blog for Iowa got up and running five years ago today. We were born out of the glory and the defeat of the Howard Dean presidential campaign. We were there at the birth of the modern-day progressive movement. And we emerged intact from the local Dean Meet Up organizations.
In Storm Lake in NW Iowa, where I ran our local little Dean Meet Up, we had a wonderful Dean staffer named David who worked tirelessly for the cause. He attended every Meet Up and acted as our “resident expert.” Then, after each meeting, he and I would stand and talk for ages, full of the excitement of it all.
The day after Dean’s caucus defeat, David said to me excitedly, “Did you hear? We came in third?” And I was sort of like, “Um, yeah. I know. Dean got third.” And David said, “No! Buena Vista County came in third in the state—the third-highest county for Dean!” That was remarkable for this conservative county in the 5th district, and due, I think, entirely to David and his organization of the university students in Storm Lake and the Dems in the surrounding small towns.
After such a showing, David was disappointed when the Dean campaign did not retain him, but quickly got a job driving around some unknown guy named Obama who was running for U.S. Senate in Illinois.
Well, after the defeat, we pressed on. Dean for America morphed into Democracy for America. Through several conference calls for Iowa Meet Up leaders, I had met Dr. Alta Price of Bettendorf, and once our beloved gov withdrew from the race, Alta contacted all the state Meet Up leaders to try to get a chapter of Democracy for Iowa going. The cornerstone would be Blog for Iowa, which I volunteered to run.
Well, the local Meet Ups were happy remaining local and a statewide organization never did get off the ground even after years of trying. But Blog for Iowa thrived, with people like Alta and Molly Regan over in Eastern Iowa promoting it with buttons and in parades and through e-groups.
I stayed with BFIA for two years and then came back to run the blog for three months last fall while we transitioned editors from Sam Garchik to Trish Nelson. Yeah, I got to run Blog for Iowa when Barack Obama won the presidential election. I tried not to let on, but I was a total nervous wreck, afraid that once again the dream would be yanked away from us. But it wasn’t. For once, it actually wasn’t.
Linda Thieman writes the Katie & Kimble: A Ghost Story chapter book series for ages 7-10.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009 was the date that thousands of Dr. Howard Dean admirers gathered around the country to celebrate the 5th Birthday of Democracy For America. In Scott County, IOWA, 15 people showed up from members of the local Quad-City DFAers to county Democrats as well as members of QCA for Change. Those from QCA for Change are part of the larger group America for Change which is an outgrowth of President BARACK OBAMA’s candidacy.
We spoke how we first heard of and encountered Dr. Dean and of how he changed our lives. One couple, Lou and Joe Waechter, who have been helping getting Democrats elected for over 50 years, still had that look of glee in their eyes as they told of seeing the good Dr. for the first time. It was during Howard Dean’s campaign that the internet was first used extensively to keep in touch with the voters. We all benefited from his famous “You Have The Power” encouragement.
President BARACK OBAMA was elected at least in half because of the 50 State Strategy that came out of Howard Dean’s foresight to create Democracy For America and the DEAN DOZEN. We all owe Dr. Dean much for his vision of the future and what it can and should be like for those of us who love justice and progressiveness. Thank you, we are eternally grateful to you Dr. Howard Dean for creating Democracy For America. Happy birthday, DFA! Happy birthday, Blog for Iowa!
Dave Leshtz was a staffer for Howard Dean’s campaign in Iowa. He has run the Prairie Progressive, a newsletter for Iowa’s Democratic left, for a really long time.
Five years? It doesn’t seem possible. I remember how happy I was – after the excitement of the early blogging days, hours of obsessively watching The Bat, and seeing unexpected people (Leonard Boswell?!) jump online – when Blog for Iowa was born, a lively and lovely child of the ground-breaking DFA blog. Though up and down over the years, BFIA has remained indispensable, and I’m pleased that it’s found new energy and vigor. May it always inspire us, as Jesse Jackson used to say, to be close enough to serve but far enough to challenge.
Dennis and Robin Roseman are hard working former deaniacs and democratic party activists who have run the DFA meet-ups in Johnson County since the presidential campaign ended.
Thank you Blog for Iowa for 5 years of thoughtful commentary on important political events here in Iowa and across the nation. BFIA is an important part of the progressive movement in Iowa where our voices can be heard and our views discussed. BFIA began small but over the years has become a place to go to get out information and action alerts and to find out what others in the progressive community here are doing. BFIA nurtures us and renews our hope and commitment to the causes we care about.
Thank you Alta Price for your creativity in getting BFIA started and your strong support through the years. Thank you Linda Thieman, Sam Garchik, and Trish Nelson for the heavy lifting, and to all the others who have contributed their articles over the years. Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday Blog for Iowa, Happy Birthday to you…..and many more!
Robin and Dennis Roseman
Co-Chairs, Johnson County Democracy for America
Mike Carberry is an energetic activist who is on a first-name basis with our hero, Howard Dean.
It was the Dean For America campaign that really cemented my career in political and environmental advocacy. Blog for Iowa was the backbone for the DFA campaign in Iowa. Blog for Iowa was then and continues to be the voice for progressive action here in Iowa. I couldn’t do my job nearly as well without BFIA. Happy 5th birthday to Blog for Iowa and here’s hoping to many successful years to come. Thanks for being the progressive voice for Iowa.
Mike Carberry, Green State Solutions: Director