Walking in Brownstown.

This weekend, the local Democrats decided it was time to drop off literature in Brownstown Township, one of those confusing municipalities that refuses to be contiguous. I actually lived in Brownstown for two years in the 1970s, so I volunteered for today's literature walk with the vague idea that maybe I would walk around my old neigborhood. It probably would have helped if I knew where to find my old neigborhood on the map, but like I said, Brownstown is confusing.

Today's staging area was the office of Downriver Democratic Organization which apparently does... Democratic stuff... Downriver. (For those of you reading this from elsewhere in the world, "Downriver" is somewhat vague term used in Michigan to refer to the suburbs south of Detroit. It includes parts of at least three congressional districts and a couple of dozen municipalities. Really, the biggest unifying characterisitic of the area is that it's not Detroit.) The Anonymous Guy-In-Charge today was the same Guy-In-Charge when I walked in Allen Park, which led him to describe me as "a regular". Wow. Two whole encounters makes me a regular. People Downriver set the bar for sucess very low, don't they?

Today, they were giving volunteers campaign buttons, instead of selling them to us. I already have a button, but I took a free one anyway for my mother. I'm trying to keep her involved in the real world.

Unable to find my old neighborhood, I got assigned a neighborhood directly next to the office, so I drove over, parked the truck, and wandered around handing out campaign literature. Unlike my previous volunteer adventures, they actually gave me a realistic amount of turf to cover, and I visited every house on my map in two hours. (Of course, the map was wrong about where one street was, but one can't have everying perfect.) Although Brownstown is in the process of rapidly urbanized, this neighborhood still looked pretty rural. The roads were unpaved, the trucks were rusty, and the sidewalks were only partially installed. (Seriously -- some houses had sidewalks in front of them, and some didn't. It was like a crazy person was pouring the concrete.)

No deep conversations with the voters, although a few rural types gave me the evil eye. Somebody's cat followed me for a block. It started raining towards the end of my walk, but fortunately, I had my trusty collapsable umbrella in my trusty bookbag. It was next to the trusty sunscreen that I didn't really need, but packed anyway because I'm a dork.

No hotdogs after the walk! Yay! We had pizza. I talked to some of the people in the Downriver Democrats' office to find out how they pick which neighborhoods to drop literature in. As it turns out, they don't do any demographic targeting at all -- they just spend one day in every town, then move on. Okay....

As is turns out, Brownstown is the next-to-last town on their list, and I won't be able to make it to next week's walk, so this is it for me this year. On the other hand, I now know where the office is, I'm considering doing some more volunteering there. It turns out that I really missed this stuff. Besides, I'm a regular now, so I'm almost obligated to show up.

Posted at 11:44:44 PM EDT on 16 October 2004 from Trenton, MI