Visiting the sessions at the liberal activists’ RootsCamp

The great thing about the liberal activists’ “unconference,” this past weekend was that anyone and everyone who had an idea for a workshop was invited to slap the theme on a piece of paper, tack it to a giant board and create the RootsCamp agenda in real-time.

There were just two problems: anyone and everyone.

Like many liberal accomplishments, diversity was key. The number of workshops (they called them sessions, as in “therapy”) was staggering, with about 90 different sessions spanning two days. The sessions covered everything from tech issues to on-the-ground advocacy advice. There was even an “Anger Management” session and RootsCampers were welcome to add more. The exact number of sessions was what scientists call “a shit tone.”

The giant board noting at what times and where each 45min talk was to be held was so full of diversity it’s likely to have a solo line or two on “We Are the World 100 for Canada.”

Here are some of the various sessions RootsCamp offered, in very abbreviate form:

DirectAction&OnlineOrganizing(CaseStudies,Brainstorm,Fun)#DataCollaborationInProgressiveTechUsing LinkedInToIncreaseYourPersonalNetworkOptimization:AYear(+)InPageTestingUnemployed&Allies:Let’s GetLoudFacebook,Twitter…TheyAllHateOccupation.TheIsraeliPalestinianConflictOnlineOrganizingThrough EffectiveStorytellingStateRootsCamps:WhatDidWeLearn?HowDoWeMoveForward?WhyI’mADemocrat.org: CommunicatingDemMessageOnAnEmotionalLevel

Yeah, it hurt just looking at the board, too, and that was just Sunday’s 11am slot.

Out of sympathy for those who didn’t want to lead or were sufficiently trapped by the 1,000-plus crowd to get out of the way, the event’s unorganizers prearranged the first round of sessions for people to follow. Still, that left RootsCampers with over 10 options.

At first, the “Where the Fuck is the Youth Vote” session seemed like a good choice. But since a girl outside with a two-pack-a-day voice had said “I’m not as hungover as I thought I would be. It probably means I’m still drunk,” it was pretty clear where the youth vote was. Sleeping.

“Debriefing with 2010 New Media Directors,” sounded a bit too promiscuous.

So the choices were down to: “#Data: The Power of Games!” and one other. After chatting up a cute RootsCamper who seemed interested, The Daily Caller had hoped the story might become a participatory piece and skipped down to the RootsCamp’s “venting session.”

Session 1 – “Why Democrats Suck”

The venting session, “Why Democrats suck,” kinda sucked. And it had seemed so promising, as George Washington University sucked for not having enough chairs in the room. The RootsCampers said naughty words like “suck” and “crap” and “Citizens United.” There was even a guy who works with exiting Florida Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson. How can this not be fun?

“It’s 11:15,” said the moderator. “We’ll vent four three more minutes and then offer solutions.”

Just nineteen minutes to gripe? Solutions? That sucks.

The self-described “progressives” in the session had a lot of reasons for why the Democrats suck, but one of the chief reasons was that Democrats — like the most of the GOP but unlike Ariz. Gov. Jane Brewer — lacked balls.

“You could have some balls but people aren’t doing that,” said one RootsCamper, whose statement sounded like years of bottled-up frustration spraying out of a Diet Coke can.

The rhetoric had been rising since someone had said “some people are just terrified of taking a standing on anything,” with another later adding that the “whole Democratic machine seems risk-averse.”

Then, just before the short “solutions” section, things took an ugly turn. The RootsCampers became visibly excited when some one brought up the idea of “taking hostages,” and “developing a list of demands.” In the end, “taking hostages” actually received the biggest applause when the group clap-voted on the best possible solutions.

On the bright side, “Vote With Your Clicks,” was also a well-received solution. At least it was positive, even if it … sounded as if it’d be more appropriate in a “Feminist Hackers for Democracy” session.