I must admit that when I read Louisiana had been grouped with Washington, D.C., New York, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Puerto Rico, and Texas for the opening ceremony at the Discovery Place, I thought we might be getting ganged up on. After all, why have the Louisiana delegation attend a welcoming reception at a science museum — especially one geared for children — knowing out state’s reputation for creationism curriculum in public and voucher schools? Maybe the organizers thought we needed a little science lesson?
Well, they loaded us on the bunch and drove us over to the Discovery Place. While I still have no idea how the convention organizers drew up plans for the welcoming receptions, I can tell you that the did a fantastic job, at least with Discovery Place event for me and my esteemed colleagues from those aforementioned states, district and territory. The reception ranged across two floors of the facility and included two bands and lots of very good, spicy food, which surprised me no end. And two bands. Did I say there were two bands? But not really bands, just a little jazz combo playing at one end of the venue and two guys playing sort of fusion rock/country/folk toward the back. All in all, rather nice. Not too loud, but enough sound to give the evening a night-out sort of ambience.
There was a full bar and science demonstrations for all ages. There was also diversity . . . lots of diversity. Those of you who watched some of the Republican National Convention on TV last week may have been struck — as I was — by the homogeneity of the delegates. That is definitely not the case at the Dems Convention here in Charlotte. We are a sundry bunch, that much is clear. Apparently, we are a sundry bunch who appreciate science, too!
I met several interesting folks, like Ariadne, the little girl engaging with the tortoise (above, left); Heather and Bob, from way out on Long Island; and Lisa and John Henry, from Detroit. Lisa works for AARP and will be visiting New Orleans for that organization’s conference there this fall. We talked about how much New Orleans appreciates the major meetings that have been held down there since Katrina as the city continues to rebuild. We also talked about the wonderful transformation they see happening in their home town as families reclaim the downtown district and re-energize the urban core. Heather and Bob spoke with me about the positive support the garnered from folks at every stop as they drove the whole long way to Charlotte. Heather’s car apparently sports a number of political bumper stickers and neither she nor Bob knew what to expect as they ventured south for the convention. They shouldn’t have worried, though, because people everywhere along the route thanked them for supporting the Democratic ticket.
On the left (above) is the current president of the Louisiana Democratic Party, Karen Carter Petersen, who is also a state legislator. In the middle are Shane and Suzette Riddle from Abbeville (but formerly of Breaux Bridge), who have just moved down there to be closer to Suzette’s parents. Mike Stagg, interim communications director for the Louisiana Dems is with them. Finally, the lovely young Democrats on the right (above) are from Texas. They asked me if I had as hard a time finding Dems in Louisiana as they did in their state, and I just encouraged them to look harder and ask gently. We’re everywhere, you know, or so our numbers tell us. We’ve just got to make ourselves more visible, is the way I see it.