We All Scream for UStream

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Most of you have been waiting with bated breath for a report from last week's lacrosse camp.

(By the way, I looked “bated” up in an online dictionary to be sure I had the correct spelling.  It turns out that “baited” breath wasn't right.  That's when you've been eating fish and haven't brushed your teeth.)

Anyway, I'm pleased to report that Cooper had a great camp.  The boys worked out and competed in “three-a-days” in the humidity and heat of, uh, beautiful Gaffney, South Carolina.  Coop did very well, but I came close to heat stroke sitting in my chair, reading some, punching out emails and text messages on my phone,and yelling from the sidelines.

Lacrosse camp is tough.

Speaking of Cooper, this coming weekend – on Independence Day – he turns 15.  As is customary, he'll celebrate by being in a parade or two with his old man.

I've freely admitted that for the first few years of his life (when I was Austin Mayor), I had him pretty well convinced that the parades and fireworks were things his sweet, somewhat well-connected daddy had put together for him.

The disappointment he experienced upon discovering this wasn't true is going to pale in comparison to his disappointment when he finds out that I have no idea what to get him as a gift this year … and so he's probably out of luck.

Mark your calendars: July 12

Last weekend, I and a few thousand good Democratic friends gathered in Corpus Christi for the party's 2010 State Convention.  The biggest news was the speech Friday night by Bill White, who's running a race for Governor that folks across the country are watching.

If you weren't there (or, heck, even if you were), we're working on another chance for you to see Mayor White that you really shouldn't miss.

On July 12, I'll host an online, interactive, video town hall meeting with Bill.  It'll be the first big online event like this of the campaign, and we think it's the first time a Texas sized online town hall meeting has ever been held on a statewide basis.

We'll be taking questions in real time – via Twitter, Facebook and UStream – during the town hall, which will start at 5:30 and go about an hour.

And if you just can't wait that long, you can submit your question now on my Facebook wall or through Twitter.

We're going to try something new, broadcasting the town hall on UStream.  The plan is to have several more of these sessions through the summer and fall with various political figures in Texas – including some of the State House of Representatives members we featured in the Monopoly Buster Ballot who are in re-election races this year.

I'm pleased to kick off this new effort with Bill White.

The event is free and open to everyone – just log on to Facebook and go to my page on July 12 from 5:30 to 6:30.

For more information or to sign up, go here.  And stay tuned.

Conventional Wisdom

The UStream town hall meeting ties in pretty well with a panel I hosted this weekend in Corpus about new media, social media, and what it all means for politics and making policy.

As I wrote last week, we had an excellent panel of pros walking folks through some of the online tools that are out there and the ways they can help causes and campaigns.

I was happy with the turnout Saturday morning, and the questions were terrific – everything from the most nuts-and-bolts inquiry about blogging to general strategic questions about coordination among candidates.  I think the discussion alone might lead to some good innovations as we all get ready for November.

I prepared a two-page handout listing five things you and others can and should do to jumpstart an online or social media campaign.  You can download it from my website.

The New Grass Roots

One of the big problems I see with a lot of this technology is that people get wrapped up in the tools themselves – the web site, Facebook page, Twitter feed, and other stuff that's even fresher and flashier.

The bigger key, I think, is to remember that these are really just tools to help us build the same thing we've always been building: campaigns that reach out and respond to people, that get everyday folks involved in the process, that help us express what we stand for and what we're trying to do … the list goes on.

So anyone who's ever knocked on doors, rounded people up for a political or government meeting, or written a letter to the editor should see social media as a powerful new way to accomplish old goals.  In fact, I think we're rapidly approaching a time where there isn't much difference between what campaigns do online and what they do on the ground.

As I've said before, these are the new Grass Roots, increasingly the best way to organize people and try to make a change.


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