Project Blog

From Brooklyn to Brookline

Aug 22, 2008

I had spoken to Cameron earlier in the week to see if we could crash his house meeting in Southwestern Missouri, and he had been extremely enthusiastic about participating in our project. He told us we could set up in the driveway of his home and that they were expecting around a dozen people to come discuss strategies for building the grassroots campaign in the area. We were planning on staying the night at my aunt’s house in Kansas City, which would mean a 3 hour drive once the meeting was over, but we hadn’t stayed in a hotel yet and we didn’t want to break our streak. Around the middle of Missouri it began to rain, and by the time we arrived at Cameron’s home in Brookline, there was still a fine mist falling.

Rob and I sat in the car across the street from the trailer home, the address given for the event, and considered heading straight for Kansas City. With the driveway no longer an option due to the drizzle, and considering the space constraints we would have to seriously improvise. But after having driven through this area of Missouri, thickly plastered with pro-life billboards and “Jesus is a Republican” bumper stickers, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see what the Obama grassroots looked like in this part of the country.

We were heartily welcomed by Cameron, a political science major at Missouri State, who was living with his grandparents, Charlie and Evelyn. They all helped us trouble shoot the rain situation and we ended up taking over the entirety of the mobile home’s small kitchen. In an effort to keep the lighting consistent with previous shoots, Rob had to work some magic. But by the time guests started to arrive he was feeling pretty good about the way the test photos looked.

We joined the others in the living room for the meeting and heard each person share why they were there that night. Eric, the field organizer who had come to lead the meeting, told us how, even though he was offered a much more glamorous post back in Saint Louis, he opted to come to Greene County, where he swears the election will be won or lost. There was also a local cop, who, although he’s been taking a lot of heat on the force for endorsing “Osama,” has not given up on converting a few naysayers. And then there was Charlie, who considers himself an independent, but just can’t bear the way the country has been going down the tubes in recent years, and is so proud of his grandson’s work for the campaign.

After plans were made to canvas that weekend, Eric and Cameron convinced everyone to do a bit of phonebanking, while we took pictures. An hour later the group had called over 100 undecided voters in the area, and we had some lovely portraits! Cameron apologized for the low turn out to the event, as only a third of his anticipated 18 guests had showed up, but thanked us for turning the night into a success, keeping people around to make phone calls. Once again I insisted that it’s not quantity, but quality we’re after, and we certainly got plenty of that in Brookline!

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