Friday, December 9, 2016

Where I’ve Been, What I’ve Been Doing, and Where I’m Going

With my last post, I returned to the world of blogging after a three month absence.  I promised to explain in this post how I came to step away, although I suspect long-time readers sensed my impending hiatus.

After many years of hitting my goal of a new post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I began struggling during the month of August.  Sometimes my posts weren’t published until the late evening or early morning hours. Sometimes they were a day or two late.  I found it increasingly difficult to set aside the time and concentration to finish a post.

Eventually, near the end of August, I missed a deadline, couldn’t get back to complete the post, and abruptly found myself an ex-blogger.

It’d be easy to point at the obvious reasons for my absence from this space.  Continually increasing obligations in my personal life.  An overwillingness to say “yes” to opportunities to be involved in civic life, resulting in too many obligations.  A need to recharge whatever batteries I have that allowed me to blog as long as I did.

But, as I see it, the real reason is more subtle.  It pertains to local politics and my role in a recent race.

I’ve written before (here and here) about my involvement in the early stages of a political campaign.   As recounted in those posts, I helped found a committee tasked with finding a candidate to contest a now-completed City Council race.

Since I last wrote on the subject, we found a candidate.  He was the best possible candidate.  Indeed, he was the candidate for whom I had hoped when I first suggested the committee.  I was thrilled with our initial prospects.

As the campaign got underway, the candidate asked me to serve as his campaign treasurer.  I also slipped into a role as a campaign strategist, helping to craft positions, editing materials written by the candidate and others, and contributing some of my own words.

 But it wasn’t the time I spent on the dollars of campaign finance or the words of campaign rhetoric that broke the camel’s back.  It was the challenge of keeping the voices straight.

I’ve known the candidate for more than a decade.  In that time, we’ve had many opportunities to converse about land use theories.  I’ve educated him and he’s educated me to the point where our beliefs are largely aligned.  But they’re not completely aligned.  We differ on some points of emphasis, on some social issues, and on our perceptions of the positions taken by others in the community.  We’re fine allies, but we’re not the same person.

And that near, but not complete, alignment creates a challenge, especially with the written word.  It was important that I get the candidate’s voice right when I when I was working on his campaign.  It was equally important to find my own voice when I returned to this soapbox.  And I found it increasingly difficult to find both voices with their subtle differences and to keep them distinct.

If this blog had been about something completely divorced from local politics and land-use theory, perhaps the reduced role of the screwball in baseball or the myriad uses of earthworm castings, I could probably have continued with the blog.  But that wasn’t my reality and the challenge of keeping two nearly-aligned voices well-defined became more than I could accommodate in my schedule.  So I took a hiatus.

But the campaign is now over.  I’ve taken another month to catch my breath and to rediscover my own voice.  And I’m ready to resume this blog.

But things will be different than they were before.  Even with the campaign complete, my plate of civic involvement remains well-filled.  My goal will remain three posts per week, but Monday, Wednesday, and Friday will now only guidelines.  I’ll still count Tuesday, Saturday, and Sunday as a win.  (Indeed, this post is two days later than I hoped.)  And I’ll try, once again, to write some posts with fewer words, a promise I’ve often made to myself only to fail equally often.

Before I close, I suspect there is one other question about which many are wondering.  Did the candidate win?  To my chagrin, no, he didn’t.  We mounted a solid effort, raised more funds than any other candidate, made many new friends and supporters, and ran a campaign of respect and quiet good sense.  But we ultimately failed to overcome the power of incumbency and the status quo, falling short by about two percent.

Despite the failure, lessons were learned, many of which will be shared here in the coming weeks and months, and enthusiasm was created for a long-term commitment.  Planning for the 2018 election has already begun.  The same candidate may or may not run, but the group we founded will put at least one candidate into the field.  And next time, we won’t lose.

So, I’m back to blogging.  I’ve missed chatting with you, apologize for my absence, and look forward to rebuilding our connection.

When I next write, it will be about the recent tragic fire in Oakland.

As always, your questions or comments will be appreciated.  Please comment below or email me.  And thanks for reading. - Dave Alden (


  1. Thanks for your words and enthusiasm. I am fairly new to your blog-o-sphere and your view gives me hope for a better place for us all to share.

    I have been wondering just recently who pulls the strings we all dance to in the larger picture. I don't want to beleive that a man like Barak Obama would participate in or condone by silence some of the atrocities that go on under his watch without a huge conflict of conscience.

    It makes me feel somewhat less empowered when our efforts to bring someone like Bill to the council only to be beaten by a thin margin. Seeing the futility of one's vote in the national election pushes the message of disenfranchisement. I will buck up in the end and your message helps to give me hope.

    Thanks for sharing your vision.

    Michael Yares

  2. Every post is a win. Every step is a win. Even a lost election can be a win.