A day on The Bus

Carla Axtman

I've become rather stingy lately with my time.

When I'm not working (and blogging), I generally want to be around my house or in my garden. I'm not easily coaxed from my lair as it takes time away from the people (and plants) that I want to be near.

So awhile back when the good folks at The Bus Project asked me to help them organize a trip to Sandy for Suzanne Van Orman, I was a little cranky about it. Time away, don'tcha know.

As it turns out, it was one of the best volunteer experiences I've ever had.


Even though I was totally crankified at the notion of a time suck, I acquiesed. I've greatly admired the work that The Bus Project has done in Oregon. From Politicorps to Bus Trips to Trick or Vote, the commitment to engaging young people with politics is something I support very much.

I was told that the theme they wanted to run with had to do with women political leaders, so I should keep that in mind when we were doing the planning (and NARAL was sponsoring). I love the idea of strong, smart and engaged women gaining more leadership roles in Oregon. There was really no way I could say no.

For the last several weeks, I've gone into The Bus HQ once a week for the planning meetings. And while the commute in to SE Portland kinda sucks for a Washington County-ite like me, the infusion of youth-directed energy and ambition has been such an inspiration. But..the meetings weren't really enough juice. Not even close. Yesterday morning as I drove to our staging area at the Eastbank Esplanade, I was thinking that this would be the one and only time I'd do this.

But something about being on The Bus made saving the world on a Saturday a pretty cool thing to do.

I say "saving the world" because in all sincerity, I believe that's what this kind of action does. To go out and volunteer for something that you really believe in and that you know can make a difference--that's how we save the world. One little bite at a time.

My Bus day experience got off to a rather inauspicious start, however. Once I arrived at the parking lot, the stupid meter ate $3.50 of my money and then powered off before I could add more cash. Then it wouldn't spit out a ticket (HELLO SAM ADAMS...ARE YOU READING THIS? I WANT A REFUND). So I grumbled over to the staging area, coffee in hand, and started working at the sign-in table.

As people started arriving, I was kind of worried. I wasn't sure how many folks were going to show up. But they started coming in--and it was fantastic. And so many women!! From their early 20's to older than that (heh)--I loved it.

Some truly awesome Oregon women leaders helped kick things off: Darlene Hooley, Diane Rosenbaum, Jackie Dingfelder, Mary Nolan and Amanda Fritz (they even managed to keep their speeches really short--which is tough for political people). We then piled on to The Bus and headed out for Sandy.

During the drive, each of us went around and introduced ourselves (first timers are awarded with a lovely, plastic lei) and gave a shout out to a woman that inspires us.

We arrived in Sandy, disembarked to cheers and applause and some yummy sandwiches (and a rousing speech by another fab woman: Tina Kotek, followed by a grateful and gracious VanOrman). A quick training on how to canvass--and folks hit the streets for Suzanne. I stayed behind and helped prepare for the return--as well as worked on a letter-writing project to help out the campaign. A few hours later, canvassers returned to music and delicious Smokey Mountain Barbecue and Bipartisan pies (apparently The Bus believes in calories).

As I milled around and spoke with attendees, everyone seemed to be having an amazingly good time. People spoke of meeting wonderful folks in Sandy. They talked about how much fun it was to walk neighborhoods on such a gorgeous afternoon for such a great candidate--all the while chowing down. Good stuff.

To wrap up the afternoon, prizes were given away to everyone who finished their turf. More prizes were given away for people who registered new voters, lawn sign signups, etc. Afterward, we scrambled back into the bus and headed back to Portland.

I rode back with a fascinating woman about my age who talked about her life--and her experience for that day. She was actually glowing when she spoke about how much fun she'd had. She'd never done anything like this before. The experience was so wonderful that its prompted her to get involved in other political activities. As we said good-bye, I was overwhelmed with fatigue and satisfaction. And the knowledge that I played a role in helping to elect a superb woman to the Oregon House.

Saving the world, one little bite at a time..on The Bus.

  • SmithSucks (unverified)

    [Stay on topic, please. There are other threads where we're discussing Gordon Smith's latest ads. -editor.]

  • RetiredBusKid (unverified)


    Thanks to you and all of the women who turned out to help make this a great event.

    There are alot of great women running for the House this year that could use our help.

    Suzanne van Orman (Sandy, Hood River) Jessica Adamson (Wilsonville) Michelle Eberle (West Linn) Judy Stiegler (Bend)

  • (Show?)

    one of the few Bus trips i've missed this year, and one i would have enjoyed. i thought you might actually hit the streets with the canvassers, Carla: that's your next big challenge!

    speaking of Judy Stiegler, the Bus is making a return trip to Bend for her -- another over-nighter. we had a blast last time, and not only will this be fun -- we'll be helping her win. other trips coming, too, including more for Brent "Duck!" Barton, Nick "Chopslaughter" Kahl & Greg "Superman" Matthews.

    call the Bus and reserve your seat! 503.233.3018

  • (Show?)

    Thanks Carla - Door Knock Canvassing is most effective tool we have because empathy is the best value we can convey to win votes. I try and canvass at least 3-4 times a week myself. Here in Central Oregon rarely to you knock on a hostile persons door and when I do I remember the old cartoon and think to myself "Ouch what a Grouch" and laugh has I move on to the next door. I recommend that people try door knock canvassing at least once and then decide if they like it or not. Canvassing with the Bus Project is always a positive experience.

  • (Show?)

    Yay Carla! Thanks for making it such a wonderful day - the feedback forms are raving about it. Also thanks to the other folks who added special sauce: AFSCME, Pro-Choice Oregon, Smoky Mountain BBQ (found at the Kenton Club - 2025 N Kilpatrick, PDX), and Bipartisan Cafe (SE 79th and Stark).

    Most of all, thanks to everyone who came out for the day. Future trip info and RSVP-ops show up here.

  • (Show?)

    The bus is the best for getting return canvassers. Everytime I have a first time canvassers on the bus they come back again and again. They devote a ton of time and effort to making sure the experience is fun and interesting. State House/Senate Races and many organizations don't have the time in the crazy pace of election so thank god they made it part of their mission and have never abandoned it. I have to make my phonebanks twice as much fun just to be competative.

    Baessler AFSCME

  • LT (unverified)

    Meanwhile, down here in Marion County, the website (anyone know who is behind it?) Kevin Cameron Watch has some news about Cameron, Doyle, and a right wing fundraiser. http://www.kevincameron2008.com/

  • TNat (unverified)

    LT, the Kevin Cameron Watch website has an email address. You could probably just write and ask?


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