I blogged at the very beginning of the Alaska GOP Convention at Anchorage's Captain Cook Hotel last winter. I was there to see nine out of 300 people stand when a conservative Rabbi gave an invocation, and later, as all 300 stood and diligently bowed their heads for a controversial Baptist minister. I watched Don Young make faces at our Governor as she dared her party to change. I saw Young jump out of his seat - in glee - when Lt. Governor Sean Parnell announced his candidacy for Young's doomed seat in Congress.
At the GOP Convention, I saw mostly middle-aged white men, dressed rather well in most cases. Palin's challenge drew a standing ovation that drew a clear line between young and old. All three or four people of color at the GOP Convention stood with them for change.
At today's opening session of the Alaska Democratic Party Convention, at the Palmer fair grounds, I was there for an entirely different scene.
A local Athabaskan dance and song ensemble gave the invocation. After standing silently during a prayer from a leader of the group, people moved from around the huge Raven Hall to watch and listen.
Dewey Taylor, the effusively energetic activist currently concentrating a lot of his energy on Valley recycling, trained kids to help him recycle as much of the convention's waste as possible.
Dewey was hauling a lot of stuff around himself, too. All the Mat-Su Democrats who are volunteering to perform the logistics of the event, are wearing those lime green t-shirts.
Dewey had collection points and signs up all over Raven Hall, and outside, in the environs of the hall, and in the camping area, where more clear distinctions were apparent between our convention and that of the GOP.
I visited the camper park in the early afternoon. Here's what it looked like then.
All day long, families of delegates from around the state mingled with volunteers and their kids. As I pointed out in today's earlier post, things were almost too well organized for it to be labeled a Democratic Party event. The comfort level and easy ambience, combined with the multi-racial character of the happily energized crowd made for thousands of smiles.
Unlike the GOP Convention, the delegates included a lot of teachers from around the state. Here's a picture of teachers from Bethel, Anchorage and the Valley discussing the deepening crisis in Bush education, arguing about solutions. The coolest thing about this picture is that Kathy Jackman, standing, in volunteer t-shirt, is the mother of two teachers. But even cooler, her two kids were in my wife's first multi-grade elementary class in Whittier.
Only a bit more than half of the delegates were there for the mid-afternoon candidate introduction. Unlike the tension so overloading at the GOP Convention, when the audience in Palmer started listening to the speeches by many of our state legislators, and by Diane Benson and Ethan Berkowitz, the feedback in the room had an optimistic ring.
The very warm responses to Diane Benson's introduction and short call to action surprised some, including me. It made me wish I had brought my decibel meter.
After the candidates introduced themselves, the gathering broke into clusters. Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich was supposed to conclude the candidates' remarks, but he showed up after things broke up. There was a accident on the Glenn Highway in the outbound Glenn Highway lanes at about 3:15. And it was Memorial Day Friday.