The Birth of Blog for Iowa: 5 Years Ago Today


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!

Alta Price

~~~~~

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.

~~~~~
Molly Regan is a tireless progressive activist in the Quad Cities.  She has been a trusted poster and supporter of Blog for Iowa from the beginning.
Howard Dean is the reason the Blog For IOWA exists. 

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!
 
Molly Regan

~~~~~

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.

David Leshtz

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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

~~~~~
Dave Bradley (Iowa’s Jim Hightower) has posted on BFIA and his LTEs and guest opinions can be found in the paper as often as he is eligible to publish.  Dave and his progressive activist wife, Carol, live in West Liberty.
Happy birthday, BFIA! Thank you for being one of the modern extensions of Tom Paine. There must always be people willing to put those in power under a spotlight and be willing to stand up to them when they are wrong. If the government of the people is to survive, then there must be knowledgeable people watching those who wield power. Here’s to another five good years!
Dave Bradley

~~~~~

Sam Garchik stepped up to take over as editor of Blog for Iowa when it needed to be adopted.  Sam served ably as editor until returning to school for a graduate degree shortly before the November election.
Five years after Blog for Iowa’s birth, the site continues to be a fantastic resource. Back in 2004, no one really understood what a blog could be or what it should look like. Blog for Iowa, created by Linda and sustained by myself and Trish and lots of contributors, continues to offer quality content and useful links.According to Technorati, there are between 77 and 184 million blogs in existence. I imagine few have the staying power of this one.
Happy Birthday, Blog for Iowa!

Sam Garchik

~~~~~

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

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4 Responses to The Birth of Blog for Iowa: 5 Years Ago Today

  1. Anonymous says:

    Wow, Trish! You really put together a massively excellent tribute to our beloved blog. What a wonderful birthday celebration! For Dave Bradley to call BFIA “one of the modern extensions of Tom Paine” is the highest compliment that all the BFIA editors, contributors, and faithful readers could possibly receive. Well done!

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Dear Linda Thieman,
    I am from Pocahontas County up near Storm Lake, and I too remember David L. I was so entralled with Howard and their campaign I was actually hired on as staff in the last few months leading to Caucus night for Dean. Meet Ups were brand new, Blogs were just getting started, and we the people powered by mouspads and hope became the greatest grassroots movement. I remember when David went to work from some unknown with a funny name back in IL. My mom and I became involved, stayed involved, and donated – time, blood, sweat, tears, money, because we started to believe again back in 2003. Thank you for all your hard work, for believing getting other excited about our politics and out future. 🙂
    We really do have the power,
    Benjamin

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Benjamin–
    Good to hear from you! There is nothing to compare to being a Deaniac, to having been there in 2003, is there? I've drifted in and out of politics for years. I've probably changed my party affiliation 5 times, but there is one thing I am and always will be, and that is a Deaniac. Not only did Dean awaken a movement, he showed us that a qualified, competent leader can actually get things accomplished. And as you say, we learned that WE have the power to change our world, too.
    My mom caught the bug, too! And my sister, who volunteered for Obama!
    Linda

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Great job, Trish! I'm a little late to noting the anniversary of the blog, but I won't claim to have written anything even *close* to resembling Tom Paine. 😉

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