A couple months ago I got a call from Helen Hutchison of the League of Women Voters of Oakland. My first thought was that my membership with the League must have lapsed because I couldn’t think of any other reason Helen would be calling me. I couldn’t have been much further off. She was calling me to inform me that the League planned to give Oakland bloggers the Making Democracy Work award at their annual luncheon.
I was ecstatic and I’m pretty sure a few tears welled up in my eyes. Much as Vsmoothe wrote in her blog post about the award yesterday, I never expected this blog to help make democracy work, and I certainly never expected to receive an award for that. I started this blog mostly as an outlet to write about my growing love for Oakland and never knew a substantial number of people would read it.
But over the years, this blog and other Oakland blogs evolved into centers for civic engagement. We’ve written about City issues that no one else was covering. We’ve provided the tools to help others engage with the city, from providing email addresses, to deconstructing complex staff reports, to providing talking points on important issues. Our blogs have served as places for any Oaklander to speak their mind about issues they care about. And many of us have migrated this community offline, joining together at social events and speaking out at City meetings, often with a united voice.
Looking back, we really have made democracy work.
I feel so honored to be one of the recipients of the League’s award and even more honored to receive this award along with some incredibly dedicated Oakland bloggers that have influenced me and kept me going all these years – Echa Schneider (“Vsmoothe”) of A Better Oakland, Jonathan Bair (“dto510″) of Future Oakland and The DTO, Debby Richman of Today in Montclair, Aimee Allison of OaklandSeen, and Zennie Abraham of Oakland Focus.
As if honoring us with this award wasn’t enough, the League wrote some really sweet things about us in their April newsletter. I have a hard time concisely talking about why I blog or what I blog about or even what the purpose of blogging is so it was incredible to see how they had explained what I do here:
Rebecca has been instrumental in taking the energy of the Oakland blogging and blog reading community and channeling it beyond just online. She has organized several events for bloggers and blog readers to meet one another, and has used her online platform to organize citizens to advocate to the City Council and Planning Commission on a number of important issues. Recently, she used her blog to raise $1300 of community donations to fund an appeal of a Planning Commission decision.
Yeah, those tears are welling up again.
I’m really proud of what we’ve all done with the blogoaksphere. I’m so grateful to my fellow bloggers, to blog commenters, and to everyone who reads our blogs. And judging from the comments at A Better Oakland, many of you are grateful too. (Chris Kidd went as far as to write this: Way to go, Oakland bloggers. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be in graduate school right now.)
I hope many of you will join us in accepting this award at the League’s annual All-City Luncheon, which will be held on Wednesday, April 27th at The Pavilion at Scott’s Seafood Restaurant in Jack London Square. Registration and no-host bar begins at11:30, and the luncheon itself lasts from noon to 1:30.
From A Better Oakland:
On the registration form, the League asks if you have anyone you’d like to sit with. For those who don’t know others who are attending, feel free to write “Blogoaksphere” on your form, and you will be seated with other bloggers and blog readers who did the same. If for some unimaginable reason you don’t want to meet other blog readers in real life, you may want to put down what you do for work. In that case, you can be seated with people in similar fields, and maybe make some new connections.
Not ready to buy tickets yet? RSVP on Facebook to make sure you don’t forget about the luncheon.
Besides supporting and celebrating with Oakland bloggers, your attendance and contribution to the luncheon will support an organization that is so important to democracy and functioning government in Oakland. The League of Women Voters of Oakland hosts candidate forums, puts out the Easy Voter Guide, advocates for transparency in government, and engages Oaklanders on important policy issues.
I hope to see many of you on April 27th, and I look forward to continuing to make democracy work in Oakland!