By Nyesha Stone
With the Democratic National Convention being less than a year away, the Milwaukee DNC board and staff is doing all that it can to have a successful convention, and that includes diving into the past. Earlier this week, the Milwaukee Business Journal hosted a meeting that featured chairman of the host committee for the 2016 DNC in Philadelphia, Ed Rendell.
One of the first remarks Rendell made was that it’s important to not forget about the home team. Although majority of the city’s population will not be able to attend and partake in the convention inside of the Fiserv Forum, Rendell suggested involving the community in other ways.
“Make them feel a part of the convention,” said Rendell. Do things that are fun for not only the delegates but the people as well, he added.
When the DNC was in Philly, a scavenger hunt was held where the delegates and people could participate, which gave everyone a chance to travel around the city. Over 50 donkeys—the Democratic Party animal symbol—were put around the city with clues to lead to the next one. The donkeys were decorated by local artists, which had art depicting images of the delegates’ home towns and more. A map was printed in the local paper to help everyone navigate their way through the hunt.
“I was amazed at how many people did it,” Rendell said about the city’s participation in the hunt.
Although the DNC was the main attraction, Rendell said they focused heavily on involving the locals in the process, such as commissioning local artists to do artwork to be displayed on the donkeys.
“There’s so many things you can do to make the people buy into it,” he said. “…[But] it’s also important to make the delegates feel at home.”
They provided hospitality rooms throughout the convention for the delegates to take a break and relax. Each morning when the delegates met, there were individuals there to provide the delegates with whatever information they needed, such as where to find comfy socks locally.
Every day an event was going on, such as a day parade or guided tours.
“Make them feel like it’s their convention,” he said about involving the people. They even hired youth as volunteers to help out during the convention.
Rendell emphasized how important it is to show Milwaukee’s best side. The entire world will be looking at Milwaukee and they should see the best the city has to offer, he said. Some may argue that it’s only right to show the true Milwaukee and that’s by displaying our highs and our lows.
Hundreds of reporters from around the country and world will be ready to put Milwaukee on the national stage, and it’s up to us to be prepare for whatever may happen afterwards.
Rendell left on the note that Milwaukee should be well-prepared for anything that could happen and above it all, enjoy it all.
“Be at your best. Be creative [and] have fun,” said Rendell.