It was the week before the election. I left Lexington, KY and made my way to Dayton, OH. The gang was late. I waited anxiously, texting to confirm ETA's and yelling for Nicole to hurry up. Slowly but surely the crew arrived and, finally, Nicole strolled out looking like "Obama Girl"…
Including bright blue heels.
I asked, "You sure you want to wear those shoes??!! Then, I decided to drop it. We were late and I figured what the hell, maybe it will work to our advantage.
The headquarters was packed. People had traveled from all across the country to this swing state. Earlier that day, a bus full of volunteers had arrived all the way from Texas. One of my favorite out-of-state volunteers was a guy from Boston who, despite his health conditions, caught a bus to Ohio to give his time. The "on-foot" aspect was too much for him to handle and I remember worrying about his safety. So, we suggested that he drive while we hit the pavement. Leigh, of course, asked to see his driver's license before she would hand over the keys.
Getting out the vote was hard work and required some thick skin. I still have bad dreams about a lady with a bad mullet that told me she hated Obama and then proceeded to slam the door in my face…hard. If I hadn't caught the "Symbolic Religious" sign as it flew off the door, it would've beheaded her dressed-up fake duck.
Then there were others, like the lady we approached while she was doing yard work. She was laid off months ago and was most concerned about Ohio jobs. Kami and I got hear her story, listen to her concerns, and talk about solutions. I had been tired and was ready to call it a day. That lady gave me the energy to keep going.
We didn't do anything special or out of the ordinary. There were millions of Americans giving their time, way more than we did. My Dad was on the other end of the state doing the same thing for the other team. And, despite our drastically different views, we were both proud of each other.
On election night, our group was again together as the deciding results came in. We looked at each other and said, almost simultaneously, "What can we do next? Let's get to the real work." We all knew this was simply the beginning.
Recently, someone asked me, "I bet that made you all feel really good, but do you really think what you did made a difference?"
No. I think millions of Americans doing the same thing did.
And, millions of Americans dedicating their time, talents, and passions can fix this Country.
Yesterday, fueled by President Elect Obama's call to service, millions of Americans volunteered for more than 12,100 service projects taking place across the country.
Today a new President is sworn into office.
This new administration is calling on people from every walk of life and citizens of all ages to serve and work together to repair our nation. They'll be expanding national service programs like AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps and will create new service organizations to meet the nation's challenges:
• A Classroom Corps to help under-served schools
• A Health Corps to serve in the nation's clinics and hospitals
• A Clean Energy Corps to achieve the goal of energy independence
• A Veterans Corps to support the Americans who serve by standing in harm's way
They are setting a goal that all middle school and high school students engage in 50 hours of community service per year. College students who engage in 100 hours of community service will receive a fully refundable tax credit of $4,000 for their education.
The online office of the President Elect, www.change.gov (www.whitehouse.gov after today), created a venue for citizens to share their ideas and solutions on the issues facing the new administration. You can go online, read the ideas, and vote for the ones you like the best. To date, over 125,000 users have submitted over 44,000 ideas and casted over 1.4 million votes. The most popular ideas will be gathered into a Citizen's Briefing Book to be delivered to President Obama after he has taken the oath of office.
It doesn't matter where you're traveling from or what kind of shoes you decide to wear for the journey…
Now more than ever before, there are ways you CAN make a difference, have a seat at the table, and impact change.
The voluntary program, which provides a growing selection of healthful children’s menu choices in every state, now counts more than 145 restaurant brands as participants, including new national companies Cosi, Jamba Juice and Rainforest Café, as well as Ovation Brands’ Country Buffet, HomeTown Buffet and Old Country Buffet, among other regional chains and independent restaurants.
This store will be the first of four to be operated by Starbucks across Disney properties in the United States and will serve as a destination for guests looking to relax and recharge as part of their visit.
If you are looking for capital to start or grow your restaurant, create the next 501c3, develop and launch the next app for the restaurant industry,or want to help your peers in some meaningful way, we want to know about it.
While working with kids who have trouble speaking, Ajit Narayanan sketched out a way to think about language in pictures, to relate words and concepts in "maps." The idea now powers an app that helps nonverbal people communicate, and the big idea behind it, a language concept called FreeSpeech, has exciting potential.
Perhaps you’ve punched out a paper doll or folded an origami swan? TED Fellow Manu Prakash and his team have created a microscope made of paper that's just as easy to fold and use. A sparkling demo that shows how this invention could revolutionize healthcare in developing countries … and turn almost anything into a fun, hands-on science experiment.
Vending machines generally offer up sodas, candy bars and chips. Not so for the one created by TED Fellow Gabe Barcia-Colombo. This artist has dreamed up a DNA Vending Machine, which dispenses extracted human DNA, packaged in a vial along with a collectible photo of the person who gave it. It’s charming and quirky, but points out larger ethical issues that will arise as access to biotechnology increases.
Privacy researcher Christopher Soghoian sees the landscape of government surveillance shifting beneath our feet, as an industry grows to support monitoring programs. Through private companies, he says, governments are buying technology with the capacity to break into computers, steal documents and monitor activity — without detection. This TED Fellow gives an unsettling look at what's to come.