Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thoughts on Prop H losing & Potluck Debriefing... so we never lose again.

Hey Green Guerrillas and Prop H supporters --

As you now know, Prop H went down with 41% of the vote in favor, and 59% against.  In many regards this is a terrible defeat and deserves to be analyzed for the flaws of the policy design and campaign.  In other regards, you could argue that the flaws are secondary given that $10 million can confuse people into thinking apple pie is un-American.

We only needed another 10% points to win.  That means, PG&E spent $1 million for each of the percentage points that led to our defeat.  Alternately - PG&E spent $169,491 for each 1% point they got, and we spent $1,512 for each of ours.  And that is a pretty remarkable testament to how strong our message is resonating with San Franciscans who we were able to reach.  Without fail, every single San Franciscan I spoke to over the last three months of campaigning --- I was able to talk into seeing why the No on H message was deceptive and they ended up supporting Prop H.  But we can not expect to personally reach all voters, and PR money rules. And we were outspent on PR by 16,100%. 

We need to debrief the lessons learned from this campaign -- to ensure that the next round of climate policy -- including Community Choice -- has a real chance to pass, and to pass soon. We simply do not have the luxury of time to wait. 

(On a personal level, I am sick of losing.  I am officially resigning from volunteering (and taking pay cuts to volunteer) on loosing campaigns. I'll re-enlist once I see a solid campaign structure underway. This is not a progressive pipe dream to eternally fight for. This must get implemented in the next 3 years or the millions who will die in the next rounds of Katrinas are our moral fault - so I believe a solid campaign strategy is our ethical responsibility. Soapbox exit left.)

I invite any and all of you to a potluck debriefing -- where we will talk through the victorious aspects of this campaign and develop lessons learned for moving forward. Let's submit these ideas to the Board of Supervisors and local stakeholders.  If you are interested in attending, please drop me an email and then I'll send a few times around to see what days works for most.   There is a Locavolts meetings that Bay Localize is organizing for Nov 13 6-9 pm at Glide Memorial Church -- which will be a great time to have regional conversations of this nature.  But we need to also have a Prop H-specific debrief to dig in to the details.

Some of the glorious moments of the campaign:
--  Hosting Voter Guide Booths around the City to allow folks to choose from a wide variety of slate cards -- all of which had Yes on H endorsements.  Geoff's brilliant idea here helped us give out several thousand guides right as people were stepping in to vote.
-- CAKE concert for Prop H!  Julian D pulled a fun and high-profile coup that helped us reach a demographic beyond the politicos.
--  Wind turbine installations on PG&E headquarters!  This original Green Guerrilla idea was taken to a wonderful new level with all of the contributions from Global Exchange, Greenpeace, and myriad of volunteers. While the mainstream media did not provide the attention it deserved, we created a picture perfect collaborative action, and at least Channel 7 news covered it.  
-- California Students and Yes on H/No on 8 Rallies!  Renee, Nina and Global Exchange organized over 200 college students for a lively PowerVote/California Students/Yes on H rally, and several of you (sorry, not sure who) organized the No on 8 rally with high-profile speakers including Leno, Leal, Peskin, Holland, etc...
-- News coverage in the New York Times Blog and dozens of other blogs and media outlets.  We never got positive media coverage in the local mainstream media (and that is a primary topic I want to analyze in our debriefing) -- but we managed to do so with the NYT -- which called Prop H and Community Choice:  "California's Clean Energy Revolution" and instead of simply parroting PG&E's talking points, noted that the motivation is PG&E's  paltry renewable levels.  A big shout out to the Guardian and Fog City who have been steady and long supporters -- and who deserve credit for many of the 41% of the votes we won. 

A final shout out to my Green Guerrilla comrads and network of supporters -- you have been amazing beyond words. You have funded sticker runs, designed fliers in the middle-of-the-night, descending upon PG&E HQ, and did a million of the little and far-less-glamorous things that need to get done like walking precincts. With a $0 budget, you helped 41% of San Franciscans voice their call for robust and affordable green energy. Who knows what future policy this might help become reality.

Let me know if you are interested in a pot-luck debriefing.
With more thoughtfulness and preparation, I see no reason why our city can't make this clean energy revolution a reality... Yes we can.

In peace and action,

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