Winds of Change has long been one of the most thoughtful and useful blogs on the net, with a diverse and hard-working cast collecting useful news and opinions from around the world, and one of the most civilized, troll-free, and provocative set of commenters out there. One of the leaders of the band at WOC has been the pseudonymous Armed Liberal aka A.L., a persistent voice of civility and reason between the partisans of both sides.
Now, A.L. has decided to drop the pseud, and come forward in his real persona, Marc Danziger. And not just on the blog, but in a feature column by Dan Gillmor in the San Jose Merc. I'll talk about why in a moment, but first I want to tip the hat to Marc and a heretofore unacknowledged friendship:
A.L. and I started out trading comments on WOC. That led to me asking him for some advice in one of his areas of expertise. That's right, the 'Armed' part. Thanks to Marc (and John, and Marciano), I'm now an Armed VC. But that's a topic for another day.
That exchange in turn led to a very enjoyable f2f on Marc's next visit to the Bay Area. Along with a lot of random jabber, we discovered that a centrist liberal and an ex-libertarian (though agreeing to disagree on some things) had very much the same view of what's at stake in the War on Terror in general and the democratization of Iraq in specific, the potential costs of failure, and the conviction that ordinary citizens can and should take a role in winning the peace.
Marc was already on the way to acting on that conviction. Shortly after our meet, he joined up with Jim Hake of Spirit of America to help the Marines at Camp Pendleton pack up donated medical and toys and school supplies to give to civilians in Iraq.
Then Spirit of America started a project to donate television studio equipment so that Iraqis could have their own stations to counter the propaganda of Al Jazeera. The Wall Street Journal took notice of this good cause. My wife and I were hosting Marc, his son, and TG on a return visit to the Valley when he took a call saying that the appeal for $100k in funding had raised over $1m in one day. The final total was over $1.5m - obviously a lot of people see the same thing and want to contribute.
If you didn't follow the links, the reason that Marc has dropped the mask is that he has now officially put his consulting career on hold and accepted a position of COO at Spirit of America, which is getting ready to kick into high gear. I'll have a lot more to say about that tomorrow, but for now I just want to wish Marc (and TG) all the best of success and survival in (non-profit) startup mode.