Thursday, April 13, 2006

IN MEMORIAM: R.I.P. William Sloane Coffin

I MET WILLIAM SLOANE COFFIN briefly when I was growing up in Grand Rapids, Mich. He was speaking at my church one Sunday and he was one of those larger-than-life figures who you didn't realize you were in the presence of until many years after the fact. But yet, you still knew he was someone who was a great figure. When I heard the former Yale chaplain speak, I was very much unaware of his past as a Vietnam War activist. But really, that's not really relevant. In an era of the pre-screened perfected sound bite, Coffin will always be someone who I remember as a great orator, thinker and philosopher, regardless of politics. I yearn for public figures who can stir popular passions by the pure use of thoughtful language and intelligent oratory, often times delivered on the fly. Mr. Coffin was one of those people who could do such things.

I would have loved to have heard Mr. Coffin speak at the great pulpit at Riverside Church in Manhattan. A dignified man for a dignified space and vice versa. Alas, that will not happen.

William Sloane Coffin Jr., 81, died on Wednesday of congestive heart failure at his home in Vermont. The Post's obit is here.

Image of the William Sloane Coffin from Columbia University

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

PLAUDITS: Congrats to

I HAVE A DRAFTING BOARD THAT'S about 20 years old, a gift from my parents when I was in my Frank Lloyd Wright phase, a time when I was itching to become an architect when I was all grown and big. I still have the drafting board after all these years. It has a small crack in it, but it still functions just fine -- perfect for 11X17 paper and all my projects from the past two decades and for all those down the road.

I don't use the drafting board too often anymore, but it has come in handy for various web design projects oddly enough. 11X17 paper is perfect for so many things, and getting ideas down on paper, organizing them and connecting all the dots, for me, is the best way to clearly think up a strategy before jumping headlong into a logistically challenging project.

My drafting board has been sitting on a dining room chair for the past few months and one of the sheets of paper near the top is from a year ago when I was still working at Roll Call. At the time, we were about to upgrade and introduce a useful Election Map, essentially a campaign tip sheet on all of the 2006 races. I used my drafting board to sketch out various ways to organize the information, content and such, especially when you're dealing with 435 House races and all the Senate seats up for grabs this fall.

Just as we were about to jump into the technical development of the Election Map in the late spring, I jumped ship, recruited by the Post to head over to Express. But I feel that although I did little in the execution of the Election Map (which was unveiled in September), there's a lot of my heart and soul as to the conceptual development and the content organization. It's the little things that count, of course, so that's why I'm excited that has been nominated for a 2006 Webby (for politics), essentially the online Oscars for those who don't know. So go vote for Roll Call, if you don't mind.

Again, congrats to Team Roll Call. I'm going to go celebrate with a nice bottle of wine. I knew staying up late all those nights would pay off eventually.