A Different Adventure: Greeley, Colorado
|November 26, 2012||Filed under Colorado, Greeley||
When I drove away from Greeley after Election Day, the sky was as blue as the population was red in that part of Colorado. I had been volunteering with the President’s re-election campaign for three weeks, and I was very happy with the outcome.
“Ah, it’s the smell of money in the air,” so say the residents of Greeley, population 93,000, located in the plains of northeast Colorado. Actually, it’s the constant searing, acrid, gag-inducing smell of cow manure from the surrounding feedlots and processing plants. While I would have preferred the scent of lavender or freshly baked croissants in a quaint French village, there I was in Middle America, getting out the vote in one of the most important elections of the times.
It was a different type of adventure but still similar to other more glamorous outings: a new locale to be visited; a challenge to be faced; new people to be encountered; an experience to be gained.
Never having participated on a full-time basis in a grassroots campaign operation, I found the process fascinating despite the semi-chaotic organization and the tedium of grunt work. For 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, I worked with dedicated local volunteers and energetic Millennial staff — fueled by youth, passion and Red Bull — canvassing, telephoning, entering data, planting lawn signs, taking out the office trash, whatever was needed.
I overcame my apprehension of rejection — or worse — when knocking on strangers’ doors to chase down every potential vote. Hitting 50 to 100 doors each time I went out, I covered turf with big houses on streets named after grape varietals (smirk), apartment complexes with indecipherable unit numbering and menacing “no solicitation” signs, and roads with puzzling endings like “St. Rd.” and “Ave. Ct.” I also canvassed sprawling trailer parks where dogs were chained out front, barking as much to protect territory as wanting to play. Good thing I liked dogs.
The reason for the above noted smirk is that I found the Yellowtail kangaroo gracing the top shelf wine in a local wine store. (Although I failed to sample Colorado wine on this visit, the state has over 100 wine producers according to the tourist board.) In addition to the plenitude of fast food and chain restaurants, Greeley offered restaurants sporting names like The Mad Cow and Fat Albert’s. I took my lovely host family out for dinner at Coyote’s, a lively Tex-Mex place which grilled a pretty tasty steak but served only one, barely drinkable wine. I should have ordered a margarita. (Speaking of cocktails, a shout out to The Kress Cinema & Lounge. Thanks for hosting the Obama victory party and for making a great martini.)
Some of our local supporters were wonderful cooks and donated delicious homemade sustenance including chili, tamale pie, pot roast and enchiladas. I ate my first “krautburger” — a local specialty brought over by German immigrants — consisting of ground beef and cabbage filling baked in a bread pocket. It was made even tastier by a topping of leftover spicy chili.
What the Greeley adventure lacked in epicurean delights, it made up with good people and purpose. Politically or otherwise, I encourage you to volunteer and contribute to your community, to your country and to your world.
At the end of the day, it’s a different adventure well worth experiencing.