From the North Carolina Obama-que, Rob and I drove the 6 hours directly up to Silver Spring, Maryland where Rob’s mom, Nancy lives, and arrived just after 1AM. We had a few days to rest and relax (and do some laundry!) before we planned to shoot our last event of the project in Maryland.
Tracey, a work from home mom, had planned a Women for Obama afternoon postcard writing party. She had been inspired to hold a similar event during the primaries, after hearing about Post Cards for Votes, a grassroots campaign handwriting postcards to undecided women in swing states, urging them to vote for Obama. Her primary party had been a small gathering of friends and they had written almost 100 postcards together. But in the spirit of grassroots outreach Tracy had posted this most recent event on Obama’s website, and was expecting several of her friends, as well as a few neighbors she didn’t know, to attend.
When we pulled into the driveway of the suburban village of West Friendship (!), I spotted a hand drawn sign taped to the gate next to the garage: “Vote for Obama.” Tracey greeted us at the door and explained that her 7 year old daughter, Hanna, who had made the sign, was very disappointed she wouldn’t be excused from school to attend the Obama party. We unloaded our equipment and set up in the driveway beside a large back yard, where a couple of tables had been arranged, well stocked with pens, stacks of blank American flag postcards and snacks.
As the guests began to arrive, old friends and new acquaintances quickly got down to work penning personal appeals, each sighting her own experiences and reasons for endorsing Barack Obama. Every once in a while someone would ask what her neighbor had been writing, and a message would be read aloud. An attorney wrote about her concern for the rights of women and our personal freedoms with the likely appointment of several Supreme Court Justices by the next president. A pediatric cancer surviver wrote about the relationship between health care in our country and families’ financial stability. And a high school teacher mentioned her inability to afford a McCain tax of her employee health benefits.
Our photo shoot provided welcome relief to those with cramping hands, and as Rob spent time taking each woman’s portrait I had a chance to write a few post cards myself! By the time everyone had been photographed and many of the women were excusing themselves to go pick up their children from school, the stacks of handwritten postcards were piled high. Many of us took more blank postcards home to continue writing, and Tracey told me later that her party produced over 1000 cards to add to the cause!
As we broke down our set for the last time, it was a little surreal to think about our trip coming to an end, and Rob and I both got a little choked up! Tracey sent us off with left over coffee cake and told us how excited she was to have made so many new friends that day. We’ve seen it again and again, since we began the We Are the Ones Project: people who are willing to open their homes and their hearts to a unified cause are creating new and proactive communities. It has been a gift to watch, first hand, Obama’s vision for our country begin to take shape. It’s been a truly amazing experience and we are forever changed by it.