Monday, August 30, 2010

Roosevelt Island: Community Conversation

Roosevelt Island Red bus #2 sits at the Roosev...Image via Wikipedia Newcomer Using Obama Political Model For NYC Race: Nine-term New York City Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney may have a real fight on her hands.... 34-year-old newcomer Reshma Saujani (RAYSH'-mah SAW'-jah-nee) ..... Saujani's trying to build a multiethnic coalition of young and new voters, much as President Obama did in his 2008 campaign.

Yesterday was yet another beautiful summer afternoon on Roosevelt Island. I am glad I left fashionably early. I was dropping by a friend's place before the event, but the dude was asleep when I showed up, the wife said, I lingered for about 15 minutes in his living room, then I left. I decided I was going to pop up on Roosevelt Island early and stroll around for 30 minutes, 40 minutes, however long before the event. But the F train took forever to show up at 14th St, and I got to the event barely on time. On the platform I met an Indian guy from one of the tech events years ago. We had been sitting on the same bench a few seats from each other half an hour before we saw each other.

Community Conversation: Upper East Side
Reshma's Lower East Side Community Conversation

The community conversation was at Trellis Diner, 549 Main Street. Someone whose home is very close to my home in Nepal - only a few villages away - lives in a fancy apartment on Roosevelt Island. I believe he got it for half a million dollars in a down market. I am a Madhesi in Nepal. He is the first Madhesi to work at the United Nations.

I organized a Madhesi picnic on the island last year right before my sister moved to Boston from NYC.

The event was well attended. The room was overflowing. During the final 15 minutes I found myself standing in the back giving my seat away to one latecomer after another.

I think Reshma has been running a post social media campaign, something I might be missing out on. I have been emphasizing creating YouTube versions of Reshma's HuffPo articles, but I have been missing out on this important detail. There was the old media style. Then came along new media. The most important innovation of Obama 08 was not that it used social media but that it got people to meet each other in person. Reshma 2010 has taken that one step further. This has not been about Reshma supporters meeting each other in person. This has been about Reshma meeting all her supporters in person. She has had close to 250 house parties. She herself has talked to thousands of voters on the phone.

She is a fighter, she said in the spirit of a refugee immigrant. And she is. She wears the cheerfulness of a fighter.

The most touching moment of the evening for me was when this black guy in a wheelchair showed up late. He is the one who got me standing. Until then I had a chair. I mean, he did have his own chair, a fancy one too. But his chair took away the space that my chair had had. He talked of how Reshma had responded to her letter, and had emailed him back personally, and had called her up. I remember talking to you on the phone, Reshma said with misty eyes.

I am voting for you, he said.

Reshma has already been providing constituency services like she were already in Congress. There are people who are calling her office because they called Maloney's office four times, five times, and no one responded.

I met one blogger - Rick - of the Roosevelt Islander. I had only visited his blog for the first time a day or two ago, and there he was. He remembered me from a comment I had left at his blog. He is a lawyer by training, and an avid blogger on the side. Being a blogger is like being a lawyer or a software programmer, I said to him. More people in America make full time incomes as bloggers than they do as lawyers or as software programmers. That is according to a Wall Street Journal article from months ago. And there was this lady sitting right next to Reshma. She made a comment about Bill Green that made me think. Hmm, looks like she read that same comment that I read at the bottom of an article online yesterday. Ends up she was the one who had left that comment.

Reshma's style is to pack her day. When she shows up for an event, and she is the punctual type, there is a clear end. There is a cutoff time. She is done talking to everyone, and now she has to leave. I noticed that same thing at the April event when I met her in person for the first time. And I noticed it yesterday.

Me, I am the lingering type. For me one event is two events. After the formal event is over, the informal event begins. I have to hang around and squeeze that last ounce of talk from some of the last people who are still there. These are perhaps people who did not talk during the formal event, or someone who talked at length and I want to make them feel like I really listened to what they had to say. So I lingered.

When I did that lingering at the Upper East Side event, the first person I talked to was this guy who had given a speech when it was his turn to ask a question. The impression he left was maybe he was that one hostile person for the day. When I met him up close instead I found a die hard Reshma fan. Someone who is overflowing with his enthusiasm for Reshma. He talked at length because he was trying to make sure Reshma was going to touch on all points in her race against Maloney.

The final community conversation is at 7:30 PM at Holiday Inn, 39-05 29th Street, N/W 39th Ave.

Subhash Chandra BoseImage via Wikipedia

The British finally said, okay, so you can have your independence, but you are going to have to give us Subhash Chandra Bose, dead or alive. Reshma gave Obama 08 its first scare, I gave Hillary 08 its last scare. Charlie Rangel, DL21C, Hillary 08 ganged up. But that was oh so long ago. We are all Obama people now. I am so looking forward to November. I want my president to defy history one more time.
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