The Vanguard has a new home, please update your bookmarks to

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Vanguard Packs Odd Fellows For Birthday Bash

The Vanguard's Birthday last night at the Odd Fellows was a rousing success with well over 120 people packed into the Davis Odd Fellows Hall for food, speeches, drinks, and just plain fun.

The duel Master of Ceremonies the "General" Dick Livingston and Former Davis Mayor Ken Wagstaff had the audience rolling with laughter at times as they poked fun of everything from a certain councilmember's "civility" kick, to the name of the blog author, to the last name of the blog author's wife.

The speakers were fabulous--most of them however strayed off the strict orders of no politics, but for the most part is was light fun. Speakers included Davis City Councilmember Lamar Heystek, former Yolo County District Attorney Candidate Pat Lenzi, Supervisor Matt Rexroad, School Board President Jim Provenza, my wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald, Sonja Tollefson from the Yolo Crisis Nursery, myself, and Congressional Candidate Charlie Brown. We have video footage that will be both Youtubed and also sent to DCTV shortly.

Supervisor Rexroad was a good sport throughout some intentional and unintentional butchering of his name. We also discovered that we were all "Pro Venza." And Cecilia was given a new last name.

Special guest speaker Charlie Brown, a Congressional Candidate who is running against John Doolittle for the Fourth District up in the foothills, spoke about how important blogs were for his campaign for Congress last time and the importance overall of the netroots movement in mobilizing new public support for progressive candidates. Charlie Brown will be going to Chicago for the "Yearly Kos" Convention, where thousands of activists from around the country will coalesce for the blog, the Daily Kos' annual event.

In addition to the speakers, the audience was packed with many dignitaries including Former Mayors Julie Partansky, Bill Kopper, and Maynard Skinner. Former Councilmembers Mike Harrington, Dick Holdstock, and Stan Forbes. The Police Chief Landy Black. Former Candidates for City Council Tansey Thomas and Rob Roy. Current School Board Candidate Bob Schelen. Among many others.

I am very thankful for such a great event just one year into this blog's existence. I want to thank everyone who helped with the set up, clean up, and manning the drink station--too many to mention and I do not want to leave anyone out accidentally.

As one UC Davis student observed, they could not believe that so many people came out for a party for a blog.

Below are photos from the evening and also the text of the speech I gave.

Text of speech:

Good evening, I’m glad to see all of you here tonight, July 30, 2007. As I look out into the crowd it is hard to believe what has happened over the last year. First, I’d like to thank everyone here for coming to this event and to the many thousands more who read this blog on a weekly basis.

The People’s Vanguard of Davis started as an idea launched as I was lying on my couch last July. It followed from the long hard campaign to elect a new city council and a new district attorney, that proved to be only partly successful. It followed from a long and ultimately unsuccessful struggle to maintain the Davis Human Relations Commission. But mostly it came out of my sense of powerlessness and hopelessness to effect change in this community and to bring about social justice.

I broached the topic with my wife Cecilia and she thought I was crazy and that a blog was a kind of an online diary where people talk about Lindsey Lohan and others. But I set about setting it up on blogger and within an hour I was online and blogging. The name the People’s Vanguard of Davis, a play on words with the common depiction of “The People’s Republic of Davis.” The catch-phrase, “A vivid description of the dark underbelly of the people’s republic of Davis” referred to the sense that many unpleasantries whether in government or civil life have been kept out of the bright light of day through lack of coverage, scrutiny and discussion. And even the pen-name, Doug Paul Davis was meant as a play on words—the initials standing for DPD or the Davis Police Department.

It is fitting tonight that the main speaker will be Congressional Candidate Charlie Brown, himself a success story of the internet blog and the massive netroots activism that sprung up last year. It is fitting for me, for it was at his event in early October that I first met John and Lyn Lofland in person and soon realized that this tiny blog was rapidly gaining a readership.

As I stand here tonight, the blog has succeeded in ways I never dreamed of and to a degree that I never imagined. More than 130,000 people have logged onto the blog in the last year. More than 20,000 people have logged onto the blog this month.

The punctuation of this first year came on July 16, 2007 at the Yolo County Board of Supervisors Meeting, where thanks to the efforts of County Supervisor Mariko Yamada who helped make arrangements with staffer Beth Gabor and County Supervisor Matt Rexroad who helped get wireless installed into the county government building, I was able to sit in the back of the chambers and blog live. I reported on the meeting as it happened. Throughout the room, I saw many individuals following along to my commentary. I know staffers also were reading the blog. After the meeting I was told by many who could not make it that they followed along with the blog at home and it was like they were in the chambers. It was a great moment for democracy and populism. And it was the punctuation mark of the first year of this blog.

Now I briefly want to talk to you about another part of my life and my wife, Cecilia’s life. Many in this community, know of our activism and work on a variety of issues, but may be unaware of our love of children and commitment to child welfare. As the youngest of eight, Cecilia has dozens of nieces and nephews and great-nieces and great-nephews. Our dedication and love of children and their welfare is something very dear to us.

The excess proceeds from this celebration tonight will go to a group, the Yolo Crisis Nursery that aims to prevent child abuse by providing parents with a place to leave their children during times of severe stress. Children age 0-5 can be voluntarily placed at the Yolo Crisis Nursery by their parents for up to 30 days. They also provide support and resources to help the parents resolve the crisis and cope with stress.

I would like to introduce you to the director of the Yolo Crisis Nursery, Sonja Tollefsen, who will tell you much more about their wonderful organization and the services they provide in our community. However, first I want to make a personal appeal to everyone in the audience to donate just a bit more into the sippy-cups in the center of your table. Your small donation will make a big difference to the lives of many local children.

Now I introduce you to the director of the Yolo Crisis Nursery, Sonja Tollefsen.

For information on the Yolo Crisis Nursery, please click here.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting