This is the first card that I typed in Chicago this weekend as part of an exhibition at the McCormick Freedom Museum. As I listened to Ms. Adams dictate her postcard to the next president, goosebumps ran down my spine. We are making history and with this project I am documenting it. I can't think of a more important thing to do. Except, perhaps, to make sure that our next leader actually gets these missives.
I've been typing postcards to the next president since February, and now have 530 cards from people in 18 cities across the United States. More than a few tears have been shed at my office desk. There's something magical that happens in the few minutes I share with each person who stops by. We enter an intense communication that often becomes emotional and that emotion often winds up in the messages people send.
"Please help my daughters to feel proud of being an American and please give them a better future," implored Carlos Arboleda as his two young daughters stood by. Mr. Arboleda is entrusting the next president with this task and it's because of him and people like him that I feel compelled to make sure these postcards actually reach Barack Obama.
I began my quest in Chicago, where the Freedom Museum is featuring an exhibit of 300 cards to the next president that were dictated at various "I Wish to Say" shows - plus photos of the people who sent them. The Obama campaign office on Michigan Avenue seemed like a logical first stop. But my initial attempt was quickly thwarted as the only way into the building was through revolving doors and I had my baby along in a stroller that couldn't make it through the doors.
The next day I put the baby in the sling and headed out again. This time I was stopped at the reception area. I decided to try and talk my way in... I know someone fairly high up in the Obama campaign team and told the receptionist I had an appointment with him. "You're not in the database," she told me. Hmm... "Could you call up?" I asked, hopefully? "No" was the clear answer.
I decided to try his Senate office. The security was tight at the Federal Building on South Dearborn, but they let me in here. I introduced myself to the man at the desk and explained that I'd like to invite Mr. Obama to the exhibition and to give him the cards in person.
The man said he'd check with someone whose desk was behind closed doors. Meanwhile someone else stopped by wanting to drop off a gift for the new president. The Obama staff refused the gift for ethical reasons. I was glad the postcards weren't considered a gift!
A few minutes later the man came back and said that the appropriate person on the transition team would be given my information. I asked who that person was, but was told that for ethical reasons, that could not be revealed.
Lots of ethics at the Obama office it seems. And we're glad for that. I just hope someone there can find a second or two to listen to the people I've been talking to.
It would be quite ethical, I think, don't you?