Some first impressions of Seattle:
- SO many bikes.
- The city is unexpectedly beautiful. It's like Uncle Sam got together with Lady Venice and voila, Chief Seattle.
- I recommend trying tripe. I subsequently recommend never having it again.
- Certain Seattleites have a love/hate relationship with wearing clothes.

I’m working for the Washington Bus - the Bus, for short - an organization that using hands-on democracy to reach young people and empower them to participate in the political process. The average age of a voter in Washington is 62. The Bus has a problem with that, and we’re doing something about it. To that end one of the many things we do is get out the vote. We go where the young people go, “dressed in sneakers and hoodies. Or maybe a onesie.” I plan on testing that organizational claim at some point.

On the front lines: A tiered silver box covers my head and torso. My hands poke out through dryer vents in each side of the box. On the front black stenciled paint outlines my identity. I am no longer Jim Maffey - I am Vote Bot. In my crafted persona, I navigate the crowds - be they Pride Festival goers or firewoks lovers
- reaching out to people and leaving them slightly more pleasant than I found them. I am fairly certain there is video footage somewhere on a random person’s camera of a silver vote bot busting a move. And every once in awhile that precious event occurs that turns the gears of democracy one more cog - I get someone to register to vote. A small victory on the battlefield of invigorating the political sphere with young blood. On that note, you all should update your voter registration in your preferred state!

Back in BusHQ: A simple question - how can we make the Bus more sustainable? - leads me on a journey down the rewarding but complicated path of reconciling the triple threat of environmental promise, social equity, and economic demand. Research, implementation, change of behaviors → yay sustainability. In theory. An independent research project of my choice allows me to explore what it takes from a policy standpoint to start a small business or nonprofit -a childhood dream of mine. Candidate Survivor - a three ring circus to determine Seattle’s next Mayor and the Bus’s crown event of the summer - pits me as th “Merch” guy, orchestrating how to feed the masses with swirled sugar and popped kernels while dapper in giant bow ties and top hats.
 
The Bus staff are amazing, passionate, and effective changemakers. I’m honored to work with them and learn from them. I’m incredibly grateful for the slice of Seattle I’ve gotten to taste this summer. 
 
Jim Maffey
Duke ‘15
 


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