When I heard the announcement about the Rally to Restore Sanity, my curiosity was piqued. When I heard what it stood for, my attention was captured. When I saw the commitment of buses from NYC to DC by Arianna on The Daily Show, I knew there were some great ways for Gowalla to be a part of the big day.
I got to Citi Field at 4:30 a.m. the morning of the Rally and began checking in the early arrivals. As I was scanning IDs, checking registration, and loading the massive caravan headed to DC, I observed that about the only thing that the members of this swelling crowd had in common was their interest in civil discourse and having a good time doing it. The signs and opinions carried aboard the buses for the Rally ranged from funny to serious, cynical to patriotic. But, in the fun environment of the buses and the Rally, completely opposite points of view coexisted and carried mutual respect for one another.
As the day passed and my iPhone battery quickly died, I realized that gathering thousands with differing opinions and political persuasions in a neutral, comfortable, and zero-pressure environment is what will bring on real change and true understanding. Many commented across the Mall that the combination of fun and serious brought real sharing, debating, and problem-solving to a new level. Because the theme of the day was sanity and not (really) fear, the higher road was taken and the bigger picture was kept in mind.
Gowalla is a company that inspires people to Go, to discover the world around them, to share it with their friends, and then have a record of the places that they've been. It was important to me that Gowalla be a part of the Rally experience because intelligent discussions and fun conversations are what we are building throughout the Gowalla community. By perusing the Gowalla passports of those in my network and seeing the photos and comments attached to their check-ins, I am learning about their world and the lens with which they see it. By sharing in these personal experiences around the places my friends go, I am able to, for the first time ever, truly walk a mile in their shoes.
The vision for the Rally to Restore Sanity was put out their by Jon Stewart, picked up and run with by the Huffington Post, and validated and reinforced by hundreds of thousands in attendance that day in DC. The vision to restore civility in our political discourse will continue to spread as more people share their perspectives on the world and those committed to sanity continue to step up against those committed to fear.