Interesting Obama links

First, TechPresident had several interesting blog posts on the efforts of the Obama campaign to figure out what to do with their 13 million person e-mail list and how to use this to spark greater civic engagement. See “The Other Transition: Whither Obama’s Movement?“, Report from Chicago: We’re Making This Up As We Go Along, and More Hints from Chicago on Obama for America 2. And see Gene Koo’s liveblogging of Marshall Ganz’s comments on the Obama campaign’s engagement strategy (part1) and part2, and Micah’s distillation of these remarks.

'Si se puede' in Guatemlan highlands (photo by Xeni Jardin)

'Si se puede' in Guatemalan highlands (photo by Xeni Jardin)

Second, Xeni Jardin, has an an interesting post in GOOD magazine on “Si Se Puedo” (Yes We Can): how Obama’s election has inspired hope even in a dirt poor, remote village in the Guatemalan highlands .  Here is a brief except:

The village where we spend most of our time is high in the altiplano, above Lake Atitlán, in the Sololá area. There are no black people here. Nor are there white people, other than occasional missionaries and Peace Corps workers. In fact, I don’t think there are really any ladinos (the Guatemalan term for people who consider themselves more Spanish than Indian) here. There are only K’iche Mayan people here.

They are extremely poor. Hunger and malnutrition are widespread. So are diseases caused by unclean water. Often, moms cannot afford the most basic medical care for sick kids, and the kids die of completely preventable or curable diseases. Many—maybe even most—of the adult men leave to seek work in the United States. Many of them die along the way.

So, despite many years visiting their homes and sharing their difficult life experiences, we were surprised by their reaction to the Obama election. It was of great symbolic importance. That sudden jolt of aspiration felt around the world? It struck here. Hard. It meant hope. It meant a renewed belief in change, for a people who have survived natural disasters, racism, and 36 years of civil war that many describe as the Mayan genocide. If a black man can enter the Casa Blanca, they are saying, maybe a Mayan person can one day become president of Guatemala. Maybe we will live to see a true democracy here, the thinking goes—a government that represents the rights of Guatemala’s First People, instead of representing their destruction.

There are no landline phones in this village. Some heads of households have cellphones (the inexpensive kind, called “frijoles,” because they’re cheap and bean-shaped), but not everyone has even this basic connectivity. Don Victoriano, the local leader of the international nonprofit…[sent this e-mail from the nearest internet cafe]:

“We are preoccupied with concern over the elections in your country. We are praying for you, so that your country doesn’t suffer such a horrible depresiòn caused by bad governments. We hope in Ajaw [the Mayan creator god] that Obama wins. I don’t know how you feel, but that’s how we feel.”

Here is the full post, “In the Highlands, Hope“.


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