Sunday, September 2, 2007

The Original Red State Rebel

While most of us were carefully examining the sudden fall of Senator Larry Craig yesterday, something else in the Idaho blogosphere was occurring that more than deserves a mention. The retirement (or let us hope hiatus) of the original Red State Rebel from the partisan Idaho blogosphere.

Four years ago, Julie Fanselow, the Red State Rebel, began the blog. Red State Rebels paved the way for progressive bloggers statewide.

My own first encounter with Red State Rebels occurred on November 22, 2003. Why do I remember the exact date? It happened to be the 40th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. Earlier that day I had conducted an interview of then Idaho State University president Dr. Richard Bowen regarding the assassination (as I did numerous members of the ISU community) and was surfing the web looking for Idaho memories of the Kennedy assassination. Somewhat accidentally encountering Julie's post on the anniversary, I was impressed with the thoughtfulness Julie put into her post and equally appreciative that she hadn't bad-mouthed the conspiracy theorists out there with whom I have worked closely. From that day on, I have been a daily reader of Red State Rebels and a frequent participant in the many discussions there.

Looking back through RSR's archives, I remembered fondly my first reactions to a few of Julie's posts that both meant something to me and forced me to really examine my beliefs or more specifically my understanding of certain issues. By no means a complete list, here are a few of my favorites:

When I began this blog in August 2004, I looked to the original Red State Rebel on numerous occasions for tips, advice, and occasionally links. With every post from Julie, I fought off the urge to simply direct my readers to her writing. Over time I've continued to fight this urge and have found myself hoping to imitate Julie's style, though not at all reaching that level of brilliance.

Recently I began reading Writing to Change the World by Mary Pipher, a name constantly on the New York Times bestselling list, and more than once I thought 'this sounds like Julie.' An example:

"True rebels act from a well-developed moral center. They know who they are and what they stand for. Most likely, they are fighting for something they have spent a lifetime learning to love."

As we have all learned from the original Red State Rebel, believing in the progressive ideals we do has taken a lifetime of learning, if not convincing. Some of us have come from conservative backgrounds, rural Idaho towns, and diverse histories to join the Red State Rebel in bringing truth to Idaho readers. We now share a bond as bloggers that we can attribute to the trail blazed by Julie.

Julie has served as the interim communications director for the LaRocco for Senate campaign, leaving that post yesterday, September 1st. She now joins the Study Circles Resource Center (soon to be known as Everyday Democracy).

My personal thanks to Julie for all she has done and continues to do as the godmother of the Idaho blogsphere. My best wishes to her as she begins her newest gig. How about a Michael Jordan like comeback, Julie? Let's say it's just a hiatus.

Update: Looks like I tagged a few of Julie's favorites, too. Check out Julie's favorite posts and her parting words.

Update #2: Don't miss Mountain Goat's post on the role RSR played in inspiring the start up of the MountainGoat Report.


Julie Fanselow said...

Tara, I am deeply moved by this tribute. I am glad you found RSR so early on (I started the blog in November 2003!) and have followed in my footsteps these four years. Thank you, truly.

Many of the posts you cite are among my favorites, too. As I've been combing over my 1500+ posts for a "greatest hits" post, I find that the ones I like best are those that came from the moral center Mary Pipher describes. (Mary Pipher, a fellow Unitarian Universalist, is someone whose writing and whose clarity I treasure, too.)

Mostly, I just want to spend my life lifting up voices that aren't heard. Stephen Covey says the 8th Habit is "Find your voice and help others find theirs." That's what my new work involves, on a national basis, so I am very excited about it.

And now I must return to finish my own farewell (for now) post ...

Tara A. Rowe said...

I find a great deal of comfort in that "for now" comment. Thank you for everything and see you in the comments, Julie.