Friday, February 29, 2008

The Campaign Trail

What's better than a campaign trip to Berkeley where you get to stay in a motel with your entire campaign team?



I took Ambien to take some of the edge off, so I'm going to have to keep this quick. Basically, we're all in Berkeley at Cal to run a campaign, our first. We're here for two weeks, but for this, the first week, we're going to p

That was as far as I got on that post last night. Oops! Anyway, I'm back in the city now, in my apartment and my bed and I could not be happier. I walked in and actually got a little teary - I didn't realize that I actually do consider Potrero home! I had also spent most of the day crying, but I'll get to that later. Right now I want to tell you all about the campaign trip.

We all went to Berkeley to try to get Kimberly-Clark products taken off the Cal campus. Kimberly-Clark makes Kleenex, Cottonelle, and a bunch of other stuff, and to make these products they clear-cut ancient growth forests in Canada. Kleenex itself has 0% post consumer recycled content, which makes it 100% UNsustainable. Our goal while on campus is to pass a resolution that would eliminate Kimberly-Clark products from the student union and the bookstore.

Each day of the campaign we all have to bottomline a certain "realm." For example, if I was the bottomliner for media, it would be my job that day to delegate who would write letters to the editor, call media outlets, and speak to reporters. I could also be the bottomliner for tabling, say, and I would run the table we set up on the quad to get people to sign our petition. We don't actually have a petition, we use individual postcards. These postcards have spaces for the person's name, phone number, address, and boxes to check if they want to get more involved in the campaign. Our goal is to have 1,300 of these postcards filled out by students and faculty by the time our campaign is over, and we're probably going to reach it before then. As you can imagine, those things are invaluable.

The one realm that I'm completely kickass at is class raps. A rap is the little speech that you give to a person or group to convince them to commit to your "ask," which in this case is to sign the postcards. Yesterday I was in charge of class raps and we totally blew everyone out of the water. My team and I spoke to 15 classes and groups and got just under 150 signed postcards. Plus, we had 22 people check the box indicating that they wanted to get involved in the campaign, which is golden.

The realm that I'm really not so hot at, though, is postcarding. I'm sure you've all seen a petitioner on the street (postcard and petition are interchangeable). They're the people who try to stop you and get you to support the decriminalization of marijuana or save the rainforests or whatever. They are annoying. We practiced petitioning one day in the Castro, and I was really uncomfortable with it. In training, they tell you to do things like "walk with the person," or "get in their direct path." That's molester behavior, and I am NOT comfortable doing it.

I thought I would be better at it on the Cal campus, because these people are my peers and I can better relate to them, but it was actually 100 times harder. I avoided this realm as much as I could all week, and made no secret of wanting nothing to do with it. Today, though, Ashley (bosslady) decides that I need to not only postcard, but bottomline postcarding. This means that I would need to direct my team and postcard all day. Oh hells no.

I was getting really worked up about it, because the reason I was so uncomfortable approaching strangers and asking them questions is because I'm afraid of them. I was attacked by a college aged man on a college campus in California. The bosses know this. Does it seem like I would actively want to make myself vulnerable to the exact demographic that I fear the most? They didn't seem to understand this, though, and it took a mini-panic attack and me scaring some students by bursting into tears while working with Gabe ("good cop" boss) to convince them that I needed a break. That break was finally had and extended into the rest of the day.

I think under normal circumstances I could have toughed it out and just dealt with being uncomfortable, but I crossed my emotional threshold yesterday afternoon. Today was not the day to try and broaden my boundaries. Plus, I've been working on feeling comfortable in public spaces for two years. Do these Greenpeacers really think that they can change that in the course of a few hours? Again, this is something I tried to explain to them, but they didn't really see it until I had a meltdown on the quad and started popping pills. Sheesh.

Anyway, they wouldn't leave me alone until I said that I would "work on" this problem. Like I'm not already in therapy. I told them about being attacked on day ONE, and you all know that I do not readily share this info (except on this public journal, of course). Again, like I said, it was mainly just terrible timing for this to be brought up, because normally I just deal with it. I was talking with Kate today (who had to go to the ER this morning, which is another post entirely, but FYI: She's okay!) and I said, "I'm used to not feeling comfortable. I haven't felt safe in two years!" I know how to deal with this, it's just that passed the line of knowing how to deal yesterday.

I'm just so happy to be back home now. I didn't know how much I loved this place until now. More later. I think tonight's Ambien is starting to kick in, and boy do I need it!