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Columns > HeadCount

Published: 2007/06/22
by Andy Bernstein

A Calling

Running HeadCount for the last three years has involved many highs, a few lows, and some indelible memories. I have to admit that one of the real highs has been getting to know Bob Weir.
Bob is a member of our board of directors and actually one of the most active members. Every once in a while my phone rings with an "Unidentified Caller" and the voice on the other end goes "Weir here."
He is passionate about the cause of registering voters and getting our community represented in politics. In many ways he is the soul of the organization.
To me, one of the things that makes Bob such an intriguing personality is that he is a living witness to history. The Haight, the Acid Tests, Woodstock Bobby was there, watching America and its value system change forever, and contributing to that metamorphosis.
Today, I feel like we have a unique chance to make history again. Modern communication tools make it easier than ever to organize and unite people. Elections are consistently being decided by the slimmest of possible margins. And our community is large, organized and going through a real political awakening. HeadCount was founded with all that in mind.
In our first year, the Dead organization supported us financially and the whole band appeared in our public service announcements. Bob also took it upon himself to speak from the stage at every concert, asking fans to vote. He even asked to be informed every night where our HeadCount registration table was, so he could give an exact location.
In the two years since then, he’s become even more engaged. We had lunch in February and I asked if he’d play a benefit concert. Within two weeks it was on his calendar.
Bob is a very politically-minded guy, with friends on all ends of the ideological spectrum. In our board meetings, he is probably the most outspoken of any of our members and really takes charge.
Needless to say, when Bobby talks, everyone listens.
HeadCount is now taking an ambitious step toward growing the organization and making it sustainable for the long term. We hope to hire our first fulltime executive director and execute a campaign that will register up to 200,000 voters by next year. We also aim to broaden our mission and become "the community organizing arm of the live music scene," providing all socially-conscious music fans an open door to activism and a chance to make a difference.
Our goal is nothing short of changing American culture and giving politicians a reason to listen. We’re taking the lessons of the sixties and applying them to today.
Bobby said it well in a recent Rolling Stone interview, "My generation almost let democracy disappear in this country by not voting, by getting lazy, by going to sleep. Everyone took a big snooze after that huge event in the SixtiesThe upside is that we know that thing is there It doesn’t have to be a huge deal. It just has to be there, to provide enough juice for enough people to coalesce around and work together, to bring about meaningful, fundamental change."
Reading those words gave an incredible rush. Here is a spokesperson for a generation past, calling for leadership and a vision to bring back the ideals he was so much a part of creating. And here we were, the HeadCount team, answering the call.

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