Thursday, April 16, 2009

Back on the Ground: OFA Listening Tours Kick Off in Iowa

From Obama HQ Blog

"What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek – it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you." -- Barack Obama, Election Night 2008

On Tuesday night in Carroll, Iowa, 15 people gathered at Sam's Sodas and Sandwiches to talk to OFA staffer Derek Eadon about their community, the issues that affect everyday life in Carroll, and what they can do to help realize the change they worked so hard for as part of Barack Obama's presidential campaign. In many ways this small gathering echoed the same kinds of the meetings that took place in diners and homes in the early days of the Iowa Caucus campaign, over two years ago.

This time however, the focus was not on Barack Obama or the caucus, or any election at all. This time the focus was on how to build support both in Iowa and in Washington D.C for the President's agenda; how to make that change. They talked about health care, shared memories of meeting Senator Obama during the campaign, and discussed ways to build on the grassroots organization that grew out of that movement.

The Carroll meeting was the kick-off of the Iowa Listening Tour, one of many Listening Tours taking place across the country this summer. At these meetings, supporters are able to meet new state staff members, hear about some of the lessons learned during the election, and offer their thoughts on how best to organize in their communities. "We have just one goal for these events - to listen," Derek Eadon explained. "[Our supporters], more than anyone else, know what approaches will work best in Iowa and we're eager to hear their ideas."

The Quad City Times reported:

The successor to President Barack Obama’s groundbreaking grassroots campaign has opened up shop in Iowa, and over the next two weeks it will host more than a dozen forums, including one next week in Davenport.

...“These listening tours will be one of our first major undertakings as we ramp up across the country,” said Natalie Wyeth, a spokesperson.

Already, the group has a paid staffer in the state.

This kind of an effort isn’t the norm in Iowa, particularly so far from an election, according to a party veteran.

“It’s very unusual that it would happen this early,” said Dave Nagle, former chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party.

...The paid staffer in Iowa is Derek Eadon, who began work about a month ago. Eadon was a regional field director in eastern Iowa during the presidential election, and he’s now working out of the Iowa Democratic Party office in Des Moines.

...The group intends to continue relying heavily on volunteers.

Seventeen meetings have been scheduled across the state through the end of the month by Organizing for America.

In the Quad-Cities, the director of the QCA for Change group is a point of contact, Eadon said. That group has already undertaken some volunteer efforts. The group has about 50 members.

“We’re going to be a vital part of the organization,” said Roland Lamantia, director of QCA for Change.

In addition to Iowa, Listening Tours have already begun in Georgia, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Missouri, Michigan, Indiana, Colorado, and Texas. These events will be taking place throughout the summer, and we'll have updates in the coming weeks as more staff are deployed across the country. If you've attended an event this week or are planning on being at one, let us know in the comments below.

Learn more at http://my.barackobama.com/page/community/post/obamaforamerica/gGxrNF
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