In the old days, a "town hall" meant a dusty pavilion, sweltering heat, pot luck dinners and sweaty kids running around in circles covered in popsicle juice.
Now, with the information age at our very fingertips, you don't have to drag yourself out into the oven that is Texas in July in order to participate in a town hall.
On Monday, July 12th, at 5:30 PM, tune in to UStream to catch an air conditioned town hall with Bill White, hosted by Senator Kirk Watson. White will be taking questions via UStream, Twitter and Facebook during the town hall (be sure to use the #BWTH hashtag on Twitter to have your comments and questions show up in the UStream chat feed).
Now, I get it. There will be some of you who will want to say, "But Rachel, I like dusty hot pavillions and sweating through long speeches. Why would I want to have to turn on my computer in the comfort of my air conditioned home to watch Bill White talk on UStream? How can I be an activist if I'm not putting a little sweat equity into the event?"
In a conference call with bloggers last week, Watson compared the use of social media to a tactic that LBJ once employed: flying around in a helicopter to draw a crowd and get his message out. Yes, using a helicopter, like UStream, is novel but there's a bigger impact beyond this, which Senator Watson was quick to point out: Taking advantage of social media and online outlets is quickly becoming the best way to reach and interact with a wider audience, giving candidates and elected officials not only the ability to communicate with constituents and voters but, more importantly, to listen to them.
So there you have it. Gather the kids, grab a popsicle so you can feel authentic, conjure up a question to ask Bill White and tune in for a town hall on Monday evening. We'll keep the air conditioner on for you.