Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Live from Chicago: YearlyKos 2007 kicks off

After almost 24 hours in Chicago, I've mostly adjusted to central time and have had a blast reacquainting myself with people that I haven't seen since YearlyKos 2006 or another event that is now only a distant memory.

YearlyKos 2007 feels very much feels like the sequel to last year's convention. We are in a massive, roomy venue, we are a bigger group than last year with around 1,400 from our community in attendance, and there are some 250 credentialed media here as well. Everywhere you look in the hotel are people walking around with orange lanyards. It is just wonderful to be able to see this many representatives from the netroots community together in one place. As you'd expect, a number of us are toting laptops and typing or working while we take part in events.

I came in yesterday on a nonstop flight from SeaTac, after dealing with the airport security there, which was slow, overloaded, and frustrating all around. After landing at Midway I took the Orange Line "L" train into the Loop (downtown Chicago) and made it to my hotel rather easily. To all you Sound Transit Link haters out there, let me reassure you that your criticisms of rail are phony and off base. Chicago, along with many other American cities, is proof that rail works and works well. The system is old but it is very efficient. You can hail a cab easily here, but during peak hours, the cabs are stuck in the traffic along with everybody else who is driving.

The rail system interfaces with the buses to provide a seamless public transportation network. We took the bus to the Hyatt this morning and got there after a short fifteen minute ride without transferring.

The transit authority here allows you to buy transit Visitors' Passes that allow unlimited trips - for example, a seven day pass will cost $20 and it gets you onto any train or bus in greater Chicago. Sound Transit should look into a solid visitors' pass system similar to this to promote tourist use of Link when it opens (and, Express or Metro buses as well).

The convention is jam packed with activities, including panels, roundtables, workshops, trainings, and keynotes. Today is the first day of official events, and while it doesn't feel overwhelming now, I believe that will change.

We have over half a dozen presidential candidates coming to speak to us on Saturday, the zenith of what promises to be one of the year's most memorable political gatherings. General Wesley Clark will deliver the keynote tomorrow morning and DNC Chairman Howard Dean will address us tonight (Dick Durbin is scheduled too, but he may not make it because of the congressional work schedule - we'll see). I will likely be liveblogging these keynotes - coverage begins at 6 AM tomorrow and 5 PM tonight for each of those, respectively.

This morning I've been listening to panels about creating a culture of grassroots giving and strategies for helping progressive bloggers earn a living. I'll be co-moderating a regional caucus for the Pacific Northwest this afternoon and checking out some of the other workshops that are going on as well.

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