Saturday, August 23, 2008

Denver2008 - And so begins the DNC...

Our sunny little city is all abuzz today!

I was up at 5:00 am to catch the bus into Denver. I have no problem fessing up to driving way too much. In fact, this was the first time in 15 years of living in Colorado that I've taken the bus. It's not that I can't or won't. I've traveled through the entire country of Thailand by rail, bus, taxi and police escort (oops...that one's a long story). I've traveled through Costa Rica on a bus filled with chickens and school children. I've practically mastered the NYC subway system. It's just not convenient when you're at home and you don't have 2 hours to waste getting to work.

Anyway...I took the bus into downtown Denver. It was surprisingly easy-peasy and I definitely feel ready to commit to taking the bus to work one day a week. It's a start... back to the DNC! The city is looking so purdy. It's spic-n-span with banners and flags and cheery looking volunteers stationed at every corner eagerly waiting to direct you to your destination. You can feel the excitement in the air and it seems as if everyone is in a good mood.

Inside the convention center, booths are starting to pop up - YouTube and Google, DNC merchandise, a display of the alternative energy sources Colorado is pursuing. Most are filled with boxes waiting to be unpacked and sleepy looking tech guys starting to set things up. By tomorrow they'll be looking snazzy and ready to impress the masses.

Upon signing in, each person was given a shirt. Each team was assigned a specific color - the tech team is blue, the people who tell you where to go are gold, the Green Team (that's me) is....well see for yourself:
Yeah, we're still the kids that everyone points and laughs at. To make myself feel better I decided that the neon green shirts were designed to remind us that none of us are every truly green.

The orientation meeting itself was less orientation and more rally. The Deputy Director of Volunteers spoke straight off, followed by the head of security who said important sounding things like "the Secret Service would like for you all to..." The woman in charge of ADA accommodations spoke, then we were pleasantly surprised to be addressed by Leah Doughtry, the CEO of the Democratic National Convention Committee. I heard an interview with Leah on NPR probably about a year ago. This is her 4th DNC and each time she says "this will be my last" but she just keeps coming back because it's such an amazing experience. For most of us it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so imagine being able to do it 4 times. I'm sure it can be addictive. It was that interview that inspired me to sign up as a volunteer. I literally arrived at work, went in and signed up. Needless to say it was really special to see her up close and personal and to hear her speak. Ms. Daughtry (or Reverend Daughtry I should say) is just really in her element up there speaking before the crowd. She is passionate and genuine. She's the kind of person you want to know and learn from.

Finally, Mayor Hickenlooper gave a very charged speech. He's also a wonderful speaker and is kind of to Denver what Giuliani was to NYC...only Democrat. Before running for mayor, he had (still has?) a beer brewing company and his TV campaign ads showed him putting change in parking meters downtown, complaining that they were just too expensive. Naturally he's a hero to the younger crowd - or the downtown beer drinking crowd at least. It's also the 100 year anniversary of Denver holding the 1908 DNC and just an exciting time in general for Denver.

Oh! How could I forget this part!? All week I've been getting emails with our rules and regulations. We don't really have a home-base as volunteers, no lockers or place to put our stuff. I'm going to be slinging trash all day, so carrying a purse for 8 hours doesn't really work. Back packs are a no-no. The only thing that came to mind was a fanny pack. Let me be clear that I have NEVER ever EVER worn a fanny pack....and I pray to God that I never have to. They're just....wrong. But how else can I carry around a cell phone, camera, ID, maybe a little chapstick, a bottle of water. Today I finally decided that I would just shove all the junk in my pockets and keep my dignity. Until they handed me this:

Did I mention we're the kids that everyone will laugh and point at? Neon shirt? Check! Fanny pack? Check! "Kick me, I'm a dork" sign? Don't think I'll be needing that. The only slightly redeeming quality is that they're made in the US from 100% organic I can throw it in my compost pile after this is over.

After orientation, we separated into our teams. The Green Team had the most volunteers by far with 1008 members. We'll be manning, in teams, 25 reclamation stations within the convention. Each station has bins for recycling, compost and landfill. Vendors inside are to use recyclable or compostable containers, cups and utensils. Napkins and all food products ("from hot dogs to nacho cheese") will be compostable. They anticipate each station only accumulating one bin's worth of landfill per day! Makes trash pickin' sound exciting, huh?

Here are a few pictures from today...

Town's gettin' all prettied up.

Yes, everyone is getting a "piece of the action" so to speak.

Every cop in town was out on foot, in cars, on bikes and segues (or are the people mover's actually segway's?) and I'm sure they'll bring out the horses for the big events...just to enforce that "Wild West" image we have here in cow town. But now that I actually look at this picture, it's one of our "clinics on wheels" which are made up of doctor and nurse volunteers who ride around doing everything from stitches to administering aspirin.

Tomorrow we're planning to head down to the Green Frontier Festival. I'll try to post some pictures throughout the week.


MamaBird said...

Thanks for the post. That's a fascinating snapshot - hope you get to hear lots more inspiring speakers! Thanks also for your volunteer work; it sound like the convention's going to get a lot of large scale waste/recycling stuff right thanks to folks like you.

Fake Plastic Fish said...

>>The only slightly redeeming quality is that they're made in the US from 100% organic I can throw it in my compost pile after this is over.<<

This statement just made me choke on my own saliva. Too funny! I can't laugh out loud cuz it's 3am and I don't want to wake up my grumpy neighbor!

Condo Blues said...

How exciting to be right in the middle of the political action!

I kinda like the bright green shirts. Maybe that's because most of the freebie volunteer shirts I have to wear for events are boring white. :)

In the interest of national security and the demoncratic process, I think the fashion police would give you a Get Out of Jail Free card for the fanny pack. Especially if you turn it into worm food/fertilzer after the event.