Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Pre-launch trip to Washington

Jonathan Aronson and I went to Washington DC this week and met with reporters, redistricting advocacy groups, Rep Zoe Lofgren's office, and Rep John Tanner and his staff. Lofgren and Tanner both have redistricting reform bills before congress. We model Tanner's bill, H.R. 543, in the game.

This trip was taken in prep for the launch of the game next month. Here are some pics from the trip:

Randy Ford (Tanner's press secretary), me, Carling Dinkler (Tanner's Legislative Assistant who put together HR 543), and Jonathan Aronson (Exec Director of the Annenberg Center) in Rep Tanner's office. We brainstormed after the meeting and came up with the idea of launching the game out of the U.S. Capitol building along with democrats and republican reps. This is an exciting idea and we are going to do it.

This is a picture of Tom Mann from the Brookings Institute and Gerry Hebert, Exec Director of the Campaign Legal Center. These are two of the leading thinkers about redistricting and redistricting reform. I invited Gerry to speak at our launch event at the Capitol building and he agreed to do it.

The most interesting thing about the trip was how receptive everyone was to the idea of a game about redistricting. I was expecting a lot of skepticism and tough criticism - considering that these are really the leading thinkers about redistricting reform - however people were not critical but rather excited that a game was coming out about the issue. The only person during the trip that offered real criticism was Prof Bruce Cain from UC Berkeley (but based in DC) who took issue with the way the reform mission was presented. He thinks it's too preachy and doesn't show how independent commissions work accurately. He offered some good suggestions which we will go back and implement.

Another interesting thing that I learned is that USC has a great office in Washington DC - right by the Navy Memorial. Jennifer Grodsky is the exec director. She got us the meetings with the congresspeople and has been terrific fun to hang out with the whole week.