Kate & I arrived at the Doubletree Hotel in Charlottesville, VA for the 2006 Libertarian Party of Virginia convention about an hour after the scheduled start for registration - there were local errands that we were attempting to accomplish, and that got us tangled up. We rapidly got the table set up and fielded a few general questions about what the FSP is and what the membership is trying to accomplish.
The only interesting question we were asked was: What constitutes "NH residency?" The question was asked in the context of someone maintaining dual residency. I suggested that contacting the NH board of elections might yield a quick answer.
The convention was pretty typical as far as LP events go, and unfortunately there was not very much time between speakers and the dreaded business session to attract many attendees, explain the goals of the FSP, or recruit potential new members.
We packed up the table and then spent some time at the hotel restaurant/bar with some of the Libertarians in attendance, and then headed out to another restaurant with a larger group (18) after the scheduled State Central Committee meeting had adjourned. This informal social event was probably our best opportunity for telling people about the FSP, the Porcupine Festival, and our plans for the future in NH. A few people in attendance were at PorCFest '05 which helped keep the conversation centered on FSP and gave a better impression of a large, real membership as well as active interest and involvement.
Recommendations for outreach tables:
Show up early and get the major display set up. Prior to the event, plan in detail how to hang banners (duct tape does a flimsy but serviceable job, and it lacks in aesthetics and professionalism), set up poster boards, and display literature, especially if the event is to be held outside where wind or inclement weather may be a factor.
Dress for the event - casual clothing with an FSP jacket would probably be best, and have attractive women staff or at least congregate at the table. Seriously. A family with well behaved children would be a strong second.
Set something peripheral to the FSP out on the table to attract people - candy, coffee, cold water, whatever. The Fair Tax people had chocolate bars with custom IRS Form/Fair Tax labels on them - pretty sharp.
Get as many FSP participants to attend the event as possible. People who don't know anything about the FSP are likely to view the project with suspicion, and have reservations about its chances of success, as I first did. Meeting groups of people who are actually committed to making the move and grappling with a government unbound by the chains of the Constitution really makes a difference.
I tried to include a lot of pictures of people who are active in the FSP to give a human dimension to the display and give me the opportunity to say:
"Yes, I know her - that's Dawn Lincoln, and she got a bill of her own passed in her first year in NH. That's Varrin Swearingen - he ran the PorCFest last year and he invited Kate & I to stay at his house for a few days while we explored NH during the winter - it didn't seem like winter in Keene was any different from NJ or MD - well, actually it was better - people didn't panic at the first flake of snow. :D" Etc.
I tried to show that these are real people, people that I've met, stayed with, and who welcomed me into their homes and their families. They've actually moved to NH and are truly active in local and state politics - it's all REAL, and it's actually HAPPENING _now_. It's not just an abstract idea, it an established fact - a freedom movement that's alive and growing. The FSP isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t a collection of Libertarian loners on the fringe of society, making a deluded attempt at achieving LibertopiaÃƒÂ¢, they are wealthy businessmen, wholesome families, and young energetic people who not only talk Ã¢â‚¬â€œ they DO.
So, wanna sign up? ;)
Document the event with photos (good for stock publicity) and submit a report to help other FSP'ers doing similar tables for the first time.
Kudos to Bill and Kate for doing a great job!
Check out the picture of their *excellent* table setup.
Those going to the National LP Convention might want to take notes :)