You want to leave headquarters for two days to literally watch paint dry?


Barack Obama’s platform was actually pretty great for farmers and rural families. But some were skeptical of this self-proclaimed “skinny black guy with a funny name.” We needed to to make him more familiar, and open people up to what he had to say.

Working as “new media” director for the Ohio arm of the 2008 Obama-Biden campaign, I got to drive all over the state,d talking to people, shooting videos, organizing. Everywhere I went, I’d see the iconic Ohio bicentennial barns — which advertised Buckeye pride in every county.

Something clicked.

When I first floated the idea, it was met with what can only be described as blank stares. But apparently it sparked something in our agriculture policy team, because a month or two later I was told there was a supportive farmer named Joe Logan, up in Trumbull County, who was eager to show his support on the side of his barn.

By offering his barn, Joe created a permission structure for other leaders in the rural community to go public with their support. By the end of the campaign, we had more than 20 Barns for Obama across the state of Ohio, and the program had expanded to other states. Each barn was another flag planted, a conversation starter literally as big as the side of a barn. They came to symbolize the principles of our campaign — that we respected and included local communities, and met them on their terms, not just their turf.

Below is the (resolution-challenged) video of the Obama barn that started it all, which AdAge called “pretty heart-warming stuff.”