Jefferson Smith

A Good Person Doing Good Things for No Good Reason

taken by Ashley Parsons-2962668191Since 2001 the Bus has been a movement of thousands and thousands of leaders, young and old. These leaders have helped craft policy, raise money, knock on doors, run events, and recruit volunteers. Many have done them all, but nobody has done more than the person who first rallied a group of young people to Get on the Bus: Jefferson Smith.

In the beginning, Jefferson was the driving force that turned a whole bunch of energy to “change the world” into concrete action. He single-handedly recruited thousands of new people to the cause and was a vocal champion of reinvigorating the small-d democratic spirit in Oregon.

As much as Jefferson was a leader of the Bus, he was a teacher for generations of Bus volunteers, fellows and staffers. He taught us how to practice “fourth-quadrant politics”, how to practice interest-based negotiation, how to use ANSVA, how to abide the Rule of Halves, how to make a Presumptive Close, and the meaning of Priceless: worth a lot, not for sale.

Jefferson went on to serve two terms as the State Representative for East Portland, where he passed legislation on voter access, water use, human trafficking and more. Oh, and he helped organize a legislative Rick Roll.

Jefferson’s humor, work ethic, commitment and creativity permeate the culture of the Bus even years after he stepped down as Executive Director. He created an organization of what he calls the Benevolently Irrational: good people doing good things for no good reason. And for that we say thanks.

Jefferson now serves on the board of the Bus Federation, which he helped to get off the ground in 2006. The Bus Federation fuels a locally-led movement for next-generation, hands-on democracy. It is an innovative network of state-based affiliates, including the Oregon Bus Project, Forward Montana, New Era Colorado and the Washington Bus Project. He continues to inspire and organize in Portland, Oregon.