(Photo courtesy of Hugh Graham)
In January, Markos Moulitsas and Michael Huttner of ProgressNow discussed the idea of hosting a home-base for bloggers and new media types at the DNCC in Denver. Huttner's ProgressNow office, along with 26 other non-profits, are located in The Alliance for Sustainable Colorado's "Alliance Center", located in downtown Denver - just a few short blocks from the action at the Pepsi Center. So, the idea was hatched to have a tent that could be used as a resource, a central home base for bloggers during the convention. It would be a non-partisan event, focused on the issues of the day, but Markos' directions were clear --- beer, pizza, and WiFi were the necessities. With the help of The Alliance for Sustainable Colorado, we set-out to create a high tech blogger home, with a sharp focus on sustainability and maintaining the lightest possible footprint for the event. Pretty soon the idea took off and we opted to go with a two-story tent, providing more than 9,000 sq ft of work and stage space.
Along the way, we created amazing partnerships with some of the leading tech companies like Digg, Google, UStream TV, and Meru Networks. The Big Tent had a stronger WiFi network than Denver International Airport and the Google smoothies and free massages created quite a buzz at the convention.
Digg sponsored the Digg Stage and an array of activists, union leaders, journalists, comedians, celebrities, politicians, and corporate leaders filled the stage throughout the week. Click here for the complete list of speakers, including Robert Kennedy, Jr, Dan Rather, Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Digg CEO Jay Adelson and Digg co-founder Kevin Rose, Rep. Donna Edwards, Senator Sherrod Brown, T. Boone Pickens, and much more. UStream TV made it possible for tens of thousands of viewers to experience the Big Tent online. To see these panels, check out the Big Tent Denver channel on YouTube. The content on the Digg Stage was generated by a wide variety of sponsors, including Campaign for America's Future, Eco-Driving USA, The Progressive Book Club, MoveOn.org, Air America, Common Cause, The Center for Independent Media, NATCA - National Air Traffic Control Association (if you fly or have loved ones that fly, you need to see their panel), The Pickens Plan, and many more valued partners. We even had terrific evening entertainment, courtesy of 236.com, Laughing Liberally, Participant Media, and Daily Motion.
(Pic of Rachel Maddow and Google CEO Eric Schmidt on the Digg Stage, photo courtesy of Hugh Graham)
The Digg Stage was great, but no bloggers tent would be complete without the beer, pizza, and burritos. New Belgium is without a doubt one of the greatest partners on the planet -- and they make some damn good beer to boot. If you ever find yourself in Fort Collins, Colorado, check out their brewery. If you are anywhere that serves beer -- check out their yummy brands, like Fat Tire. The whole wheat crust pizza (made from locally grown wheat) from Papa John's, the burritos from Chipotle, all of the other wonderful food sponsors kept the new media powered for the hustle and bustle of the convention.
Aside from our corporate partners, the event would not have been a success without the hard work and dedication of dozens of people. A special "thank you" to Bobby Clark of ProgressNow, Will Rockafellow and Markos Moulitsas of Kos Media, Carter Johnson and Anne Pogoriler of the Colorado Environmental Coalition, Sarah Moss of The Sullivan Group, and John Powers, Rebecca Saltman, Anna Zawisza, Alexis Riccio, Kendra Sandoval, Aaron Nelson, Nathan Moore, Sarah Garrison, Joanna Keys, and Emily Andrews of The Alliance for Sustainable Colorado, Rachel Rosengarten, Rob Hunt and "Sprout" (aka Jim) of All Phases Production, and Raven Brooks, Marna Riser, Karen Kolber, and Mary Rickles of Netroots Nation.
And last, but not least, a note of gratitude to the hundreds or thousands of bloggers who made the tent their temporary home and the millions of readers who followed their tales from Denver. The collaboration and cooperation amongst the bloggers was a site to behold and continues to strengthen the netroots as a whole.
(Photo courtesy of Ashley Dinges)
The Big Tent was a huge step forward for the new media. Instead of waiting to be invited to the party, we created our own. Sure, there were some glitches along the way, but by all accounts it was a huge success and it filled the needs of hundreds or even thousands of bloggers at the convention. We learned a lot of valuable lessons along the way and we'll be back to "do it live" - bigger and better in 2012.
A heartfelt "thank you" to everyone involved. It would not have been possible without you.
Update: Thanks to Eric Thut, Austin Adams, and the hundreds of volunteers who directed guests, kept things running, cleaned up, and just generally kicked ass. A round of applause for you all!
(A picture recap of the DNCC/Invesco experience below the fold)
After the trek to Invesco, we waited through a nearly 2.5 hour long line that wrapped around the stadium, but your Daily Kos editors were hard at work in line:
There were tons of local vendors, hawking their Obama goods. Who doesn't need a "Barack in a Bottle?"
These guys had my favorite Obama gear - an Obama throwback jersey from his days playing basketball in Hawaii (same colors as the national champion Jayhawks - coincidence? I think not):
Winding through the long line, we encountered a large protest coming across the bridge toward Invesco:
Some two hours later, we were finally near the security checkpoint. Good times in line:
I finally made it to my seat and you could literally feel the excitement in the air. This crowd was fired up and ready to go!
Even the cops couldn't resist capturing the moment:
Obama and crew, did not disappoint. Everyone was on cloud nine:
A good time was had by all......