Michelle Obama to grow White House organic victory garden

ABC News has reported the Obamas are going to plant a vegetable garden at the White House*. The New York Times also announced that work on the organic garden will begin as early as tomorrow when Michelle Obama, accompanied by 23 fifth graders from Bancroft Elementary School in Washington, will begin digging up a section of the White House lawn to begin planting. Although the 1,100 square foot garden, set to be located in the south grounds, will be out of the main view of the house, it will still be visible to the public on E Street.


First Lady Michelle Obama recently told Oprah‘s O magazine about her garden plans:

We want to use it as a point of education, to talk about health and how delicious it is to eat fresh food, and how you can take that food and make it part of a healthy diet. You know, the tomato that’s from your garden tastes very different from one that isn’t. And peas – what is it like to eat peas in season? So we want the White House to be a place of education and awareness. And hopefully kids will be interested because there are kids living here.

Who will take care of the garden?
In addition to the White House grounds crew and kitchen staff, Michelle mentioned to The New York Times that nearly all family members will play a part in maintaining the garden.

Almost the entire Obama family, including the president, will pull weeds, “whether they like it or not,” Mrs. Obama said laughing. “Now Grandma, my mom, I don’t know.” Her mother, she said, would probably sit back and say: “Isn’t that lovely. You missed a spot.”

What will they grow?
The 1,100 square foot plot will feature a wide variety of vegetables, herbs and fruits to include 55 varieties of vegetables, a patch of berries and two bee hives for honey. The organic seedlings will be started at the executive mansion’s greenhouses. “Total cost for the seeds, mulch, etc., is $200.”

The organic garden will feature raised beds “fertilized with White House compost, crab meal from the Chesapeake Bay, lime and green sand. Ladybugs and praying mantises will help control harmful bugs.”

Organic seedlings? White House compost? Natural pest control? I’m sorry, but I know I’m not the only one who is absolutely ecstatic over all of this?! 🙂

In fact, groups like Eat The View and The WHO (White House Organic) Farm, as well as author Michael Pollan and chef Alice Waters, have been advocating for a White House garden pretty much from the time President Barack Obama was inaugurated and I bet they are all whooping it up right about now.

What will they do with all of that food?
Eat it, of course. The White House chefs will be planning the menu around the garden. Eating locally and in season? Aiiiieee! Be still my heart!

This is not the first time a vegetable garden has been planted at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Eleanor Roosevelt had a Victory Garden planted in 1943 during World War II and there were gardens before that as well.

Hopefully the Obama’s new garden will inspire the people of our country to begin growing even little bits of their own food. Gardens come in all shapes and sizes – from little pots in a window, to bigger pots on a balcony or porch, to a little raised bed in the sunny spot in your backyard, to a community garden plot, to a much bigger plot. Every little bit helps us live more sustainably, protect our food supply, and reduce our carbon footprint. Perhaps sweetest of all, food grown in your own backyard tastes so much better because it’s fresh and hasn’t made a week or two-week long journey half-way around the world!

What do you think? Will the new victory garden start a resurgence in gardening in America? Has that resurgence already begun? Have you planted a garden in the past? If not, do you plan on it this year?

*Thanks to Nature Deva for the tip-off!

The World chimes in about Barack Obama

Today is the day Barack Obama becomes president of the United States of America. There is no doubt that there is a huge number of Americans who are overjoyed that today is finally here, but what about the rest of the world – are they excited too? Immediately after Obama was elected, I asked for feedback from my blogger and Twitter friends from around the world. I specifically wanted to know what their reaction was to the news that Obama would be president and what the overall reaction in their country was as well.

I intended to blog about those reactions back in November, but time got away from me (as it often does). Still, I wanted to share these sentiments and figured today, Inauguration Day, was the perfect time to do so.

Kellie (an American living abroad) said:

We are of course American, but living overseas in England right now. We also traveled to France a few days after the election, and let me say that the Brits and Europeans are THRILLED! It is all over the news here … TV, print news, billboard signs. I love it! We are thrilled with the outcome and look forward to the next four years! We hope he makes some great changes, especially within the military!!!

Naomi (who was living in Canada at the time of the election, but is now in the UK) said:

Hubby and I watched all night and literally wept with joy. Cannot be happier. Not religious, but PRAISE GOD. Thinking of tattoos. “There is nothing false about hope” and “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for”. No joke.

Penny (from New Zealand) said:

Over the past few weeks our newspaper has been full of election news both from our local politicians (we go to the polls on Saturday to vote), and from the US. The US campaign has gone on for so long that I was getting tired of the hype! But I must say that the last two days I couldn’t help but turn my eyes to your country. I’ve been looking at a few blogs, Youtube vids of the candidates and listening to some commentators from our country and their view on the situation. I think (from my perspective) that it was time for change, but I don’t pretend to fully understand the issues that are at stake there.

Perhaps it is hard for US citizens to understand how the rest of the world views America. We see you as a nation of great strength and leadership, but also one whose citizens can be naively insular about the rest of the world. Because you have that position of strength, there is a need for strong, charismatic but uniting leadership. I don’t think the US has had that sort of leadership for a while. (When George Bush was re-elected almost everyone I had contact with here felt disbelief and amazement that he had got back in. Many people here did not agree with the way things panned out in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the continued presence of troops there.) Now with the world economy in a recession and the heightened awareness of peak oil/global warming there is a feeling that things need to change both here and globally.

I couldn’t help but be excited by the historic nature of this election. It’s a great moment for America and even for the rest of the world, to have a multi-racial person elected to Commander in chief. It gives hope that America is moving on from it’s past, and that anyone with guts/determination/leadership can be the head of the land regardless of their ethnicity.

But beyond that I do hope that Obama and his party will be able to take the US forward and serve his people so that even those who didn’t vote for him will be able to say it has been a change for good. I would also like to see some leadership and responsibility in areas such as reducing carbon emissions etc. I feel that the Bush administration has had their heads in the sand about this and I know that many people here think the war in Iraq has a lot to do with the US obsession with oil reserves there and less to do with the terror aspect…

I know that some of my American friends are disappointed and even frightened. I know they have been disturbed by publicity about soul-searching topics like abortion and terrorism but I have the sense that these have been scare mongering strategies. Again, I don’t pretend to fully understand the issues as they apply to the US but I would like to say that any leader or group of leaders needs the support of the people and the feedback from the people to be able to lead effectively. Just because Obama may not have been your choice, don’t give up on him but rather voice your concerns, make submissions. Given the diversity of the US it’s unlikely he will be able to satisfy everyone’s wants, but “needs” are more important anyway.

He (and his party) have a big job ahead. I doubt you will see results immediately but I wish you all the best.

And I don’t intend to sound offensive to individuals when I talk about the US as a whole. I know many of my US friends don’t have naively insular views about the world etc! But it’s a widely held perception here. We are a small country with little clout in comparison to yours and we like to think we are important too – and when many of your citizens think we’re part of Australia it gets just a tad annoying. At least LOTR has put us on the map! LOL!

Megan (also from New Zealand) said:

I am so happy for you. I sat with Ara in my arms trying to keep her calm enough so I could hear what was being said. I had tears in my eye…and still have.

I have been talking to Dave (my husband) via email and both he and I are very disappointed that we do not have an Obama in our country…our candidates are like squabbling little toddlers in the sand pit….and we have our elections on Saturday and I still don’t know who to vote for.

We need an inspiring person like Obama…we need a leader to pull us out and give us a slap (not that I believe in hitting ;-)) …we need direction too…I can only hope that your Obama can pull our little country up as well.

I think the world has hopes and dreams and your poor Obama is going to be run haggard with all the cleanup. He has my support and my excitement even though I’m half a world away.

Juliet (from the UK) said:

Hi, I’m from Brighton, UK and have followed the excitement both on the news and from the Twitter feeds I subscribe too.

This must be such an amazing time for you guys at the moment, Obama brings strength, positive change and finally gravitas to the White House. It feels like you have only just started opening the gift he is giving you.

Although it has been great watching it on the news, you could feel what was happening much more from your conversations on Twitter. It was great hearing about all of the personal stories across the US as the evening unfolded.

All we need in the UK now is someone as cool as Obama! I’m quite jealous – ours certainly doesn’t match up!

Planning Queen (from Australia) said:

I am from Melbourne, Australia and also had tears in my eyes when Barack and his family got up on stage. Luckily my children were home from school and I could emphasise the importance of this moment in time to them.

Australia is a small country (by population) and the influence that we have on the wider world is very small. America however is the complete opposite and has the opportunity to lead the rest of the world with the decisions it makes. To me the last 7 or so years has seen this leadership going in the wrong direction, with countries like Australia and the UK following.

My hope is that with Obama, this truly will be a change in leadership that will help guide others in the right direction. The direction that cares about the environment, prefers diplomacy over aggression and looks after the disadvantaged.

Congratulations to Americans for making the brave choice of change.

I had several Canadians weigh in too.

MomOnTheGo (of Canada) said:

I’m a Canadian and have to say that there was a lot of Obama-fever up here, too. He is an amazing speaker who spoke of change and his beliefs with passion. His openness to the world and international issues and, honestly, his intelligent approach to any issue that I heard him address brings hope for the world. I think Planning Queen summed up the role the US plays in the world very well. We sometimes talk about “sleeping next to the elephant” means you have to be vigilant when the elephant rolls over. There are many Canadians who are sleeping easier with the knowledge that Barack Obama will be in charge of the elephant.

I find it interesting to hear Obama referred to as a socialist since, for the most part, his policies are still more conservative than those of our Conservative Party. We’ve had a state medical system for decades and waiting lines at emergency rooms are no different than in the US and I have never needed to decide whether I could afford to take my child if she was sick, I paid nothing when I left the hospital after giving birth and never thought twice about attending each and every pre-natal appointment because they were all paid for. American men, women and children deserve these things. There are waits for some surgeries but we’re working on those.

If nothing else, Obama brought passion for the democratic process to millions who were feeling estranged from it, even people in other countries. That is an entirely good thing.

Leanne (from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada) said:

What happens in U.S. politics definitely affects the economic and political climates in Canada. So, it is with intense interest that I followed the returns on November 4. I stayed up late to catch the incredibly classy and inspiring acceptance speech. I’m just so giggly-thrilled that Barack Obama was elected to be the next President of the United States of America. I am floored that a man so controlled, intelligent, sincere, charismatic, young, black, liberal, inspiring, even-tempered and dignified could have been elected to that position. I honestly did not think that nearly 30 years of Republican grotesqueries would allow it. What has especially made me hopeful for the future was his acceptance speech, which was not gleeful, not self-congratulatory, nor particularly celebratory. He seemed to be telling his supporters, the U.S. as a whole and the rest of the world: you have done an important thing but it is not going to be the most important thing you do, that will be the hard work of making our world and country better. And, gosh darn, I believed him. It seemed to me that Obama set the entire tone of his administration in that speech: It’s not “my” government, he see to be saying, it’s your government, and he’s just there to guide the rebuilding, to be the lightning rod for the energies of the people of the U.S. It is the morning of a beautiful day in the U.S. and as a Canadian, I’m lucky to get to share the weather.

Shawna (of Ontario, Canada) said:

I read your blog about Obama’s win and thought I would share some thoughts on how it looked from my corner of the world in Ontario Canada. Many of my friends, family and neighbours were actively engaged in this election. For a long time we have admittedly looked to our Southern friends and family and shaken our heads in disbelief at the administration of your Country. When George Bush was elected 4 years ago we were very saddened that the American people voted once again for a man who spoke so often of hate, terror and fear. That individualism and power seemed more important than community and peace.

But all that changed with this election. I loved watching the excitement and energy of the American People in the lead up to the election. There was so much passion, energy and hope. Last night we spoke to our children at the dinner table about the election and explained how millions were going to vote that day just as we had over a month ago in our own Country. We told them that we hoped that the people would vote for a man named Obama because he believes in people and cares about the world (my children are 5 and 3 so we were keeping it simple). My daughter Ainsley beamed at me and said that she too hoped they voted for Obama because he seemed like a good man. Later my partner and I sat down and watched the coverage and were ecstatic when Obama was awarded victory. It was a proud day for Americans and we were and are so happy that the US voted for change. This seemed to be an election for the people and I think it demonstrated how good democracy can work when citizens are inspired to be engaged. It serves as an example for all of our Countries to expect more from our leaders and contenders for office. That we shouldn’t have to vote for the lesser evil or against someone but instead for someone and for values we believe in.

Everywhere I go today people in my city are talking about the election and the hope that has come with it. What it means for our own Country policy wise is less important to me right now than what it means for us as people who can believe in change. We elected a minority Conservative government here about a month ago who is reminiscent of George Bush and the Republicans. Many of us fear that our Country is headed in the wrong direction and that so many of the values we as Canadians hold dear will be undermined by our leaders. The election in the US reminds me that it is the people of a country who truly make a difference and that when we come together and put our energy into something we can accomplish great things. I carry this with me as I look forward to what our country needs and how I as a citizen can influence that change.

Jennie (from Canada) said:

I’ve spent that last two days watching lots of news about the American election. Canadians in general follow American politics since the actions of one of us influences the other.
I am so proud of the American people. Electing Barack Obama as your president is monumental. I feel lucky to have witnessed such a historic time on earth.
The election of Barack Obama has removed some of the veils of cynicism that I’ve acquired over the years concerning politics and the world’s ability to change. If the United States with all its history can choose an African-American man as their leader, then I believe that women can aspire to the top position of power.
I hope that the momentum of this time does not fade and that the issues that really matter are addressed under the new administration. Despite the troubling times we are living in, we have a small victory in a battle for unity. We are blessed.

Annie (from Canada) said:

We were relieved and excited that Barack Obama was elected president. I’m excited about the message of change that Barack Obama brings. I’m excited about the race barriers that have been broken down. I’m excited to see a Democrat back in the White House (it seems all too long since Clinton left). I was scared every day of what new policies, wars or other ideas George Bush might come up with to hurt his people or other people around the world and was worried that McCain/Palin (especially if McCain died) would be more of the same or worse. I’m glad I don’t need to be scared anymore.

While I’m extremely excited for my American friends about the positive domestic changes that Obama is sure to bring, I am unsure about where he stands on issues that will affect Canadians. I’m a big supporter of free trade and when he suggests it might be renegotiated, that worries me. And when people say it would be renegotiated to include stronger environmental provisions, I say “go ahead!” because the Americans have a worse record when it comes to protecting the environment than we do (but we’re not far behind). But I worry that once the doors are opened at all, that Obama might start applying restrictions to other parts of free trade that are beneficial.

I also wonder what Obama will keep and what he’ll get rid of with regards to greater restrictions that have been placed on foreigners. I used to travel to the US frequently for business, for family vacations, and for day shopping trips. Now I don’t anymore. I’m scared and I’m annoyed. I used to get a smile and a few friendly questions at the border (where are you from, where are you going, how long are you staying, have a great trip!). Now I get grilled to the nth degree by a scowling border guard that seems to assume that each person trying to cross the border wants to do some sort of harm to the United States (no, really, I just want to shop and vacation….don’t you want my dollars…guess not). Also, there is a law/policy brought in under Bush that indicates that foreigners that are pulled over by the police for any reason can get thrown into jail immediately. A Canadian woman that turned right somewhere where it wasn’t allowed ended up spending the night in jail. Even the possibility of that happening, especially as a mom that often travels with my small children and that does not want to be seperated from them under any circumstance, makes me scared enough to not go to the United States. What happens if I miss a sign and make an illegal turn by mistake?

All that said, I’m very excited for Americans. But I’m anxiously and apprehensively waiting to see how Obama’s attitude and policies towards foreigners (especially close allies) will be different than his predecessor. Until then, I’ll be vacationing in Cuba and shopping in Canada.

Rebecca (from Ontario, Canada) said:

Ben (my husband) thinks I’m silly for being so emotional today. I’m overwhelmed with feelings: awe, incredulity, happiness, gratitude, relief…

The success of Barack Obama’s Presidential campaign is monumental in its importance, not just to the United States of America, but to Canada and the world. He represents change, hope, and tolerance. He represents black people and white people. He’s educated, well-spoken, quiet, graceful, charismatic, and inspiring.

Imagine: there are people alive today who, years ago, couldn’t vote because of the colour of their skin. Yesterday, they were allowed to vote – and one of the people they could vote for was BLACK! Not only did a black man RUN for President, he WON! This is huge. Now, every generation that follows will grow up learning about the first black American President and how he changed the world.

Now, Obama has a tough job ahead. He inherits a huge deficit, two wars, and countless other problems. Add to that the promises he has made for change, and you have a potential for heartbreak and disappointment if he fails to do what he has said he will. I do not envy his job at this point, but I hope he realizes the importance of keeping his word and always doing the best he can, to lead the most powerful country in the world with fairness and humility while being decisive, intelligent, and innovative. Major changes to environmental policy are required, immediately, and I think he realizes that. Green collar job creation will be instrumental in taking steps to halt the progression of environmental destruction. Obama, I think, understands that major change must take place, and NOW, in order to avoid going past the point of no return.

His first order of business, I think, will be to try to fix the economy, followed by a decision to withdraw troops from Iraq, deal with Afghanistan, and all the while making policy on environmental decisions. Tough job.

Mr Obama, I wish you the best. Congratulations and good luck!

If after all of that, you still need convincing that the world is excited to see Barack Obama as the new president of the United States, check out this link to World leaders’ quotes on Obama election win. Yes, this is much bigger than the United States. It impacts the entire world.

Today my kids and I will be sporting our Obama t-shirts while we witness history and watch the inauguration on TV with the rest of the world. I can’t help but be filled with pride and gratitude as I think of all of the work so many people did to get us here today and also filled with hope as I look to the future.

National Day of Service

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “If you want to be important — wonderful. If you want to be recognized — wonderful. If you want to be great — wonderful. But, recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. That’s a new definition of greatness.”

Monday, Jan. 19, is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and also the National Day of Service.

Michelle Obama has challenged all of us to volunteer on Jan. 19.

Volunteers of all ages and backgrounds are committing to renew America together, one community at a time.

Whatever service activity you organize or take part in — cleaning up a park, giving blood, volunteering at a homeless shelter, or mentoring an at-risk youth — you can help start this important journey. But this is about more than just a single day of service, it’s the beginning of an ongoing commitment to your community.

To find an event in your area, visit USA Service.org.

As for me and my family, we plan to visit our neighborhood park and walk around our neighborhood picking up trash. With the strong winds we’ve been having the past few weeks, there is a lot of trash scattered about that needs to be cleaned up. I really wish I had a way to get the plastic bags out of my tree, but I think we’ll have to focus on the trash on the ground.

What will you do to help out your community on this National Day of Service?

Update: So the fam and I went out in the crazy, wild wind today (it was a good thing it was warm and sunny out) and picked up trash at our neighborhood park. There was quite a bit to be had and we filled about half of a trash bag. There was everything from beer cans (a lot) to a Starbucks cup to plastic grocery bags, papers, a hanging file folder, and various water and soda bottles.

Here are a few pics (taken with my iPhone) from our excursion:

Jody and Ava get trash out of the bushes. 1/19/09
Jody and Ava get trash out of the bushes. 1/19/09
Jody and the kids look for trash at the park. 1/19/09
Jody and the kids look for trash at the park. 1/19/09
Me and the kids pose with the trash we collected. 1/19/09
The kids and I pose with the trash we collected. 1/19/09

What will you do on Buy Nothing Day?

Traditionally in the United States, the day after Thanksgiving is known as “Black Friday” and is considered the kickoff for the Christmas holiday season. Retailers open their doors early and hold big sales in hopes of drawing in the consumers for one big day of spending and consumption! Shop, shop, shop ’til ya drop!

Buy Nothing DayYou might not be aware that there’s another name for that day – “Buy Nothing Day.” The goal of Buy Nothing Day, celebrated this year in the US on Nov. 28 and internationally on Nov. 29, is to raise awareness about unnecessary spending and consumption, not just for one day, but for every day.

Now in its 17th year, Buy Nothing Day is celebrated every November by environmentalists, social activists and concerned citizens in over 65 countries around the world. Over the years, Buy Nothing Day (followed by Buy Nothing Christmas) has exploded into a global movement, inspiring the world’s citizens to live more simply and buy a whole lot less.

With the current economic crisis, fear of global warming, and failing environment, this year’s Buy Nothing Day has a greater sense of urgency.

Suddenly, we ran out of money and, to avoid collapse, we quickly pumped liquidity back into the system. But behind our financial crisis a much more ominous crisis looms: we are running out of nature… fish, forests, fresh water, minerals, soil. What are we going to do when supplies of these vital resources run low?

There’s only one way to avoid the collapse of this human experiment of ours on Planet Earth: we have to consume less.

It will take a massive mindshift. You can start the ball rolling by buying nothing on November 28th. Then celebrate Christmas differently this year, and make a New Year’s resolution to change your lifestyle in 2009.

It’s now or never!

What do you think? Will you choose to Buy Nothing on Nov. 28 (or Nov. 29) this year? Or if you think that is too extreme, will you curb your overall spending and consumption for the holidays? One thing that might help you with this is to take the No Plastic Holiday Challenge. We’ve got 33 participants so far. Can we make it 50?

Whether or not people participate in Buy Nothing Day or the No Plastic Holiday Challenge, it is my hope that this year finds all people a little more aware, a little more conscientious, and a little more thoughtful before they buy.

My video blogging (of sorts) debut

Earlier this week I was asked to be a part of a project by Purple States called 50/50/50 – where 50 bloggers, in 50 states respond to questions about the current economic crisis. A new video is added to the site (in alphabetical order by state) for 50 days. There is also an ongoing discussion about the economy and politics in general on the site.

I’ve never done any interviews or video blogging before so this was all new to me (and, I admit, a little nerve-racking at first). I took nearly 20 minutes total video of myself (some recorded between midnight and 1 in the morning(!), when the house was actually quiet LOL and I’m nursing Julian in one of the clips too – can you spot it? Ava even got to “man” the camera in part of it) answering various questions and showing off some of my every day life. It was all edited down to a 2 1/2 minute clip.

Previous projects by Purple States were featured on the Washington Post and New York Times sites, and this particular project has the potential to be picked up by sites like CNN.com, iReport.com and others. I’m excited to be a part of it and honored to have been chosen to represent Colorado.

You can check out my video and those from other states on Purplestates.tv or just watch my video below.

Yes We Can, Yes We Did

Last night history was made. The United States of America elected its first multi-racial president, Barack Hussein Obama.

Jody, the kids and I had the opportunity to go to an Obama victory party held by the Boulder County Democrats. We met up with my sister Carrie as well as some friends. The energy was high, the cheers were loud. There were two big screens, food, drinks, and the place was decked out in red, white and blue. There were lots of smiles, lots of tears, lots of hugs and kisses. It felt like a New Year’s Eve party, except instead of people being donned in New Year’s accessories, everyone was wearing Obama shirts, stickers, buttons, balloons and even signs!
Woohoo!My family on election night

The crowd went wild when Colorado’s results went up on the big screens. Our great state went blue! I was proud to have done a very small part to help make that happen, making calls from home, in my car, in the Democrats office and again from home yesterday afternoon as I gave it one last push, feeling confident that no matter what the results, there was no way I could say,  “I wish I would’ve done more.”

When it was announced that Barack Obama was the next president, I got tears in my eyes. I have never been so excited about our country’s future and been so proud to be an American as I was in that one moment. I hugged Jody, I hugged Carrie, I hugged Melissa, I hugged both Ava and Julian and told them that Barack Obama would be our president!

Carrie, Jody and Julian celebrate Obama’s victory Ava with her happy balloon Julian has fun with balloons too

We listened to John McCain’s gracious and heartfelt concession speech. He really seemed to be speaking from his heart and I just wanted to give him a hug. Although I’m obviously happy the election ended the way it did, I still admire McCain and am thankful for his service to our country.

And then we waited and waited for Barack to talk. When he, Michelle, Malia and Sasha walked onto the stage, again, the crowd went wild.

Boulder County Democrats cheer for Obama

It was inspiring, as always, to hear Barack speak. He’s inspired me to get involved with my country’s future and I know he’s inspired many, many others as well. It is my hope now that those who did not vote for him will accept that is going to be the president and to show him respect. If you don’t agree with him, let him know. He even encouraged that in his acceptance speech. That is just one thing that I think is particularly appealing about Obama, that he’s so well connected. He’s on FaceBook, he sends emails, he’s on Twitter. I got a thank you email from him last night for the donations I gave and volunteering I did and that really meant something to me. I know that email went out to millions of people, but I appreciated it. I feel connected to him in a way I’ve never felt to other presidents. See what I mean? 😉

Barack and me

Barack Obama has shown me that great things can happen when people are inspired and they come together to work towards a common goal. I believe the momentum that’s been started will continue and that there are good things in store for the United States of America. Yes We Can.Carrie, Julian, Jody, Ava and me

I’m also so proud of the amazing voter turnout in this election. Thank you to EVERYONE who voted. That alone shows me that people truly care about our country’s future. If we can harness that energy and turn it all into something positive, imagine the possibilities.

“You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one” — John Lennon

And now, here’s where I ask for your help. I can only report what I’m experiencing here in the USA, but I’d LOVE to know what my readers in other countries think about Barack Obama being elected president. If you live outside of the United States or you have family outside of the US, would you please email me and tell me how you/your family is reacting to this news? Please include where you live. I’d like to put together a post including all of these sentiments. Thank you!

Voting: Before and After

This post was inspired by Morningside Mom‘s cute voter makeover post yesterday.

On Thursday, after Jody and I had finally completed our monstrous mail-in ballots, Julian and I picked up Ava from preschool and headed downtown to drop off the ballots in person (and save $.59 x 2 on stamps). We drove around the block two times before finding a parking space a block away. Because this was the location of the early voting as well as the drop-off for mail-in ballots, it was THE place to be.

Before voting, I was a tired, frazzled, but ever-hopeful Obama Mama.
Tired Amy pre-voting

We went into the county clerk’s office where Ava got to put the ballots into the box all by herself. (I’m cursing myself for not taking a picture.) She was so proud and said, “I voted!” Then when we walked outside she said, “Did we just vote for Brock Obama?” 🙂

After voting, I honestly felt energized, excited and proud, not only of Ava for her enthusiasm in the political process this year, but of all of the people who were turning in mail-in ballots and voting early. This is an exciting time to live in!
Energized Amy post-voting

And I did get a picture of Ava once we got home, with an “I voted” sticker on.
Ava voted!

I know many of you are getting sick of the political posts here, there and everywhere. Based on the fact that I’ve had some email subscribers cancel lately, I think perhaps some of you don’t want to hear about politics on my blog either (though my subscriber #s have gone up overall so I can’t complain!). But there are only 4 days left until election day and I have to be honest, you might read a bit more about politics on this here blog before I go back to business as usual. I feel it’s my right and really my obligation to share my thoughts.

Happy Halloween to all! 🙂 And, if you haven’t yet, don’t forget to VOTE next week!

Her first tattoo

Ava with her first tattoo 10/26/08 “Brock Obama!”

And because I have a hard time going entirely wordless I have to add that she was flashing her Obama tummy at shoppers in line at the grocery store this weekend. I could never get away with that myself, but my 4-year-old sure can. 😉

Oh, and yes, it’s only temporary.

See more Wordless Wednesday posts at the original WW home and at 5 Minutes for Mom.

Obama Mamas Get Involved: A Call to Action Part 2

Last week I wrote The Time for Change is Now: A Call to Action Part 1 and promised that I would follow up with Part 2 with stories of my family and friends who have inspired me with their volunteer efforts to help Barack Obama win this election.

obamamama.jpgWe have just one week until election day. One week to rise to the challenge. One week to get involved and make a difference.

Earlier this month my friend Alison from GreenMe wrote Ask Not What Your Country Can Do for You. I have to credit her with helping me reevaluate my priorities and giving me the proverbial kick in the pants I needed to go volunteer myself. She wrote:

Okay, so you would like to volunteer, but you don’t have the time? I am sure that you — like myself — procrastinate on a daily basis. You put off the laundry or the vacuuming or dropping off the recycling — so that you can do something else. Right now there is nothing more important in your future and the future of your children and grandchildren — nieces and nephews than getting out the vote and talking to your neighbors. No single thing is more influential in your future than the future of your country. The last 8 years of President Bush have been a near disaster. The election is less than 4 weeks away — and YOU don’t have time to volunteer? Not even 2 hours? What about 4 hours?

Think about the amount of difference that you could make in 4 hours? Supposedly, every 14th person that you contact is likely to actually “hear” your words and have a change of heart and mind. Consider this: if 100 people read this blog today and, 100 people then go out and each to talk to 50 people tomorrow — statistically that would result in 357 additional people voting for your candidate. In swing states, such as Colorado, 357 people just might make the difference in who is the next President of the United States of America.

Alison, who is a third generation Coloradoan and mother to a 15 month old son, has spent several hours volunteering herself at the local Democrats office, making phone calls and canvassing. When asked why she chose to get involved, Alison said: “Life on earth is interconnected. What happens today, what happens here, affects not only you and me, but future generations and people around the world. Obama understands the interconnectedness of life and he genuinely wishes that United States of American lives up to its own motto as a ‘Government of the People, for the People, and my the People.’ With that it mind? How could I not get involved in this election?”

Another “Obama Mama” (which is on a pin I’ve been wearing for the past week) who inspired me to get involved is my good friend Brandy Lance, who’s currently living in Georgia with her husband and two young boys. Although she hasn’t been able to volunteer as much as she’d like, she still found ways to get herself and her children involved in this election.

We decided we wanted to thank those who can donate more time. My boys and I began baking goodies for our local Obama office volunteers. We’ve made them cookies, muffins, and pretzels and even though a volunteer that lives just down the road from us has volunteered to take them to the office, I have driven the boys down each time. I at least want to show them how the volunteers are dedicating their time, what the office looks like and how appreciative the people are when they receive their gift of thanks. It’s a small way to get children involved in the political process while helping to create a better sense of community and appreciation.

Brandy has also done some data entry work for her local Democrat office.

This is the first election Brandy has gotten involved in and says the reason is, “I believe that America needs major change now and needs to have some better policies in place for the sake of my children’s future. If I don’t help elect a candidate whom I believe can, and will, help our country, then it seems to me that I really don’t care all that much.”

Another mom who felt the need to get involved in an election for the first time is Erika Carlson, mom of two of Louisville, Colo., who organized the Louisville Mamas for Obama, which is comprised of a few dozen women. They held a bake sale which raised $650 for the Obama campaign and also got hundreds of bumper stickers, buttons and yard signs out to Louisville supporters, as well as managed informational tables at the Farmers Market. She’s now working on getting the Louisville Mamas for Obama to volunteer for the Get Out The Vote efforts these last few days before the election.

When asked why she choose to get involved she said, “I felt last election that Bush could not possibly win, and he did. I want to make sure that our feelings of ‘being ahead’ in the polls doesn’t lead to complacency.”

A couple other women I’ve been inspired by as of late are my sister and my mom. Both have been doing work for the Democratic party in this election. My mom, a retired school teacher in northeast Michigan, has been volunteering a LOT – canvassing, making phone calls, and working in her local Obama office, and I’ve been really proud of her for it. She plans to work the last four days before the election, doing whatever they need her to do.

Although this isn’t her first election to be involved in, the last time was many years ago when Bobby Kennedy was running for president. She decided to get involved again this year because, “Enough is enough. I cannot just sit by and let another Republican get elected. I declared myself a Democrat and started to volunteer. We have to have a president that really and sincerely cares about our country’s future and the future of my children and grandchildren, and we have to improve our image globally.”

So there you have it, four stories from four different women, all motivated to get involved to help shape the future of our country, and all of whom helped inspire me to get involved.

We have just seven days left before history will be made. Can you get involved? Do you have an hour or two to spare? Can you make some phone calls to remind people to vote and tell them their polling place? Can you drive people without transportation to the polls? Can you make a donation? Can you bring some food to volunteers on election day? Every little bit helps.

Here’s one more (specific) way to get involved. Cynthia Samuels recently posted about a group called Election Protection that will work to protect people from voter suppression on election day. She urges, “If you are an attorney or law student or paralegal, please sign up to help.” My little sis, who is an attorney, will be involved in those efforts.

Lastly, today Barack Obama gave a very inspiration speech in Canton, Ohio. You can watch the last six or so minutes of it here. A few things he said that especially stood out to me were:

“We have to work this week like our future depends on it in this last week…because it does.”

“We can choose hope over fear and unity over division, the promise of change over the power of the status quo.”

“It won’t be easy, it won’t be quick, but you and I know it is time to come together and change this country.”

We only have one week left. Let’s come together. Let’s get involved. Let’s change this country!

The Time for Change is Now: A Call to Action Part 1

If not me, who? If not now, when?
— Mikhail Gorbachev

obama_sunrise.JPGAfter reading and hearing about some of my friends* doing fund-raising and volunteering for the Obama campaign, last weekend while out running errands, the family and I stopped in our local Democrat headquarters and I inquired as to what I could do to help. I happily signed up to call democrats and undeclared voters in my city to remind them to turn in their mail-in ballots. I hadn’t given a whole lot of thought as to when I would do the calls, I just knew that I feel so strongly about this election that I wanted to do something more than exercise my right and responsibility to vote.

The first day I tried to make calls while the kids were playing outside. I got through about seven calls before Ava came to the backdoor and started yelling – while I was in the middle of a call, of course. The woman on the other end chuckled and I said, “You can’t tell I’m making this call from home, can you?” 😉 I decided then that I should probably reserve my calling time to when my husband Jody was home in the evening or on the weekend.

On Tuesday night with Jody home to tend to the kids, I got through about five pages of calls while sitting in my car in the driveway. Seriously. That’s not exactly what I had planned when I signed up to volunteer, but it was quiet and there was no one to disturb me. 🙂

Even though there are less than two weeks until the election, there is still a great need for volunteers (and donations as well). Beyond making calls to remind people to return their ballots or remind them of their polling places, etc., volunteers are needed for other reasons. Volunteers are still needed to canvass local neighborhoods, especially in key swing states like Colorado (where I live). They are needed to drive people without cars or licenses to and from the polls on election day. There is also data entry work to be done (which would be a lot more practical for this mom to do at home in her jammies). And although this is not an actual volunteer position (but something that I’m sure would be very much appreciated), one can always deliver snacks, meals, etc. to the poll workers on election day.

That quote by Gorbachev has been going through my mind a lot lately. If not me, who? If not now, when? In these last few days it’s up to all of us to do whatever we can, whether that be talking with our friends and families about our choices, blogging about it, pointing out lies that the GOP is spreading (I just got a flier in the mail today saying Barack Obama is a friend of terrorists – paid for by the Colorado GOP), volunteering on a formal level, etc. If you’ve been wanting to do something, but not knowing what you can do, I encourage you to visit or call your local Democratic office and ask. It’s that easy and I bet you you’ll feel so good about yourself once you’ve done it. The time is now.

* There will be a follow-up post to this one chronicling the volunteer efforts of my mom and a few of my friends. They’ve inspired me to get involved and it is my hope that maybe they will help inspire you too.

Still not convinced you need to do something to help Obama secure this election? Watch this video. Maybe it will change your mind. The time is now.