The excitement and energy of my first Netroots Nation is still with me this morning, and I can't let it slip away without writing about it. So here it goes…
When I got off the plane in Pittsburgh, I just wanted to not waste my first Netroots Nation convention. Though I've written for Burnt Orange Report for over four years, this was my first time reaching out to the broader community in a personal way (I was backpacking in Glacier during last year's in my hometown of Austin). I didn't know how much more there was to desire from my experience.
But after my four days in Pittsburgh, I know how amazing the experience can be. As I stepped off my flight home on Sunday morning, and as I sit here now the day after, I find myself wanting so many things:
I want to go back to Pittsburgh. I want to wake up in our “Texas House” — where most of the Burnt Orange Report staff and fellow friends were staying — and take the 77D bus across town to the convention center. I want to have so much fun all day long that I feel sad when I finally have to get a cab back home. I want to stay in that space that held me the last four days, and never let go.
I want to go to a panel. I want to learn more about the work everyone is doing. I want to hear Charlie Cook and Nate Silver and the Pollster.com team talk about trend lines and context. I want to engage in a professional discussion about redistricting. I want to put a megaphone to the entire Momocrats panel and broadcast their message of parent-focused communication to the entire Democratic Party. I want to learn about field work, and ROI, and environmental policy, and the No On 1 campaign in Maine, and everything else. I want to embrace the knowledge and empowerment that comes from listening and learning to some of the most open, honest, and intelligent experts I've met.
I want to put faces to the names behind the screens, and let those faces become my friends. I want to feel inspired by two of our party's best communicators — President Bill Clinton and Dr. Howard Dean — and listen to them talk about the importance of framing the health care debate as a “people vs. insurance companies” conversation. I want to meet Markos Moulitsas Zúñiga and Chris Bowers again, even if it is just briefly and if I just feel like a fanboy while I talk to them. I want to meet the folks from DFA, and Media Matters, and Calitics, and Left in the West, and North Decoder, and e.politics, and Pandagon, and the Women's Campaign Forum, and EnviroKnow, and the dozens and dozens of new friends that I got to spend my weekend with. I want to fulfill the true promise of the internet — strengthening nodes in our networks, to improve the openness of our democracy.
I want to hit baseballs at PNC park, and have drinks in the Warhol museum. I want to enjoy the wildness of Karaoke night and the Altar, and enjoy the quietness of texting with a new friend. I want to go where everybody knows my name…and if they don't, they want to smile and get to know me for who I am, and not how I can help them with their work. I'm terrible at schmoozing, but I never felt like I was schmoozing this weekend. Not once. I always felt like I was making friends, and to have that kind of environment around a large convention with people who (since it was my first one) were mostly online acquaintances is a special, special thing.
I want Las Vegas to be next weekend!
In the coming days, I hope to write about some of the major ideas that were discussed at the convention — most importantly for us in Texas, about redistricting and what we need to achieve in order to maximize our electoral opportunities in 2010. Right now, though — more than anything else — I want to thank everyone that made Netroots Nation possible. I learned new things, made new friends, and had one of the best weekends of my life.
To all who made that happened — my forever thanks. Now it's time to get back to putting all those ideas from Netroots Nation into action.
P.S. To all my Netroots Nation friends — you can always follow me on Twitter at @PhillipMartin if you want to stay in touch!