Having a kid really does change everything. Early in 2011, my wife and I were still getting used to our infant boy.

But the reality of how difficult it was to get out and find comfortable places to take him did not take that long to get used to.

It was then that my wife came up with a great idea. Voice of San Diego should have some kind of kid-friendly outdoor field day. A festival of fun.

I jumped out of the couch as I tend to do and began pacing. Several months later we announced it: In September, we were going to host the inaugural Politifest.

The vision morphed from a field day to more of a street-fair, festival feel. And I decided to combine it with a political debate (the first one of the mayor’s race, as it turned out). More than 130 community organizations ended up putting up tables. We had a band, a beer garden and a kids area.

The goal is simple: San Diego has a lot of festivals. Festivals about food, neighborhoods and pride. Why not have one about the ideas that will shape our future? Right, left or Fletcher, we all need to practice talking to each other and arguing in relaxing settings.

The fact is we all care about San Diego. That means we have to care about politics and civic ideas.

But it was 2011. Not exactly a big year in politics. It was a big risk. I could hardly sleep wondering if we would end up having a party but nobody came.

They did come. By our estimates, about 1,200 people did. More importantly, it was enough of a success, and our loss was small enough, that we accomplished what we wanted: To prove we could do it again.

Embed a photo of last year’s crowd or environs.

We launched it in 2011 precisely because we wanted it to be established for 2012.

And man is it ever. Planning is going well for Politifest 2012.

Dozens of organizations have paid the $30 fee to have a booth (another little risk we took to try to recoup costs).

We’re going to try to have not one but two debates. The mayoral candidates have confirmed. Still working on the two candidates, Brian Bilbray and Scott Peters, for one of the most contested Congressional seats in the country.

And I’ve refined the Idea Tournament after learning some important lessons last year. Be prepared, members, you’ll have a big role in that (that’s a hint to Idea Tournament participants; you might want to help us get some of your friends on the member rolls).

This year I can’t lose money on Politifest. Last year, from sponsors and donations, we got about $13,000 back out of the event but it cost us $20,000 to put on, not counting our staff’s hours.

We’re going to do better this year. We expect thousands to come out. The kids area will be better. The beer garden’s going to be in a better spot. The debates will come at the climax of an exciting political season.

The Idea Tournament, the face-painting, the art and music. All going to be amazing.

Thanks for helping make this happen as a member. But if you’d like to get more involved as a sponsor or partner, please let us know.

Politics and ideas will decide our community’s future. We have to stop talking about them only in hotel conference rooms and downtown skyscrapers.

Scott Lewis

Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently...

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