Project Wonderful

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Rootscamp 2012!

First off, I am so bummed that I haven't be able to post a lot lately, that is what happens when you straight up leave graduate school for three weeks. The good news is, I'll see lots of you at Rootscamp this weekend! I will be leading two sessions; one special insiders' edition of my volunteer recruitment and one about women on campaigns and my very fascinating graduate work. You should totally come! (Click here to buy your ticket) But WHAT IS ROOTSCAMP you ask. Well! I know of just the interview for you to find out!

So...who are you?

I’m Jamie McGonnigal and I’m the Director of RootsCamp. [That's him, above.] I’m a bunch of other things too, but I suppose for the purposes of this interview, that’s what I do.

What is Rootscamp?

RootsCamp is the largest national progressive debrief in the country. Our National RootsCamp happens in DC generally around the end of any election. While the schedule exists based on our country’s elections, the organizing and sharing of best practices that happens at RootsCamp moves far outside our electoral cycles.

RootsCamp is a place where organizers come to talk about the challenges and successes they’ve had in the past year and figure out specifically what their next steps are. At the New Organizing Institute, we are big fans of what we refer to as “Engagement Organizing.” It’s taking organizing to a new level by encouraging people to stay involved and build movements even when there isn’t a vote to worry about. The first step in engagement organizing is debriefing. If we don’t learn from the work that we do, it’s difficult to move forward and innovate for the future.

The way it works is that when you come in, you’ll see a mostly blank agenda we call “The Wall.” During the opening events, you fill out a card for a session you’d like to present, turn it in to our Wall creators and head to the first pre-seeded session. By the time you get out, the Wall will be filled with cards from as many people as we can fit.

Why an UNConference?

An UN-conference is a place where people come together and the hierarchy is removed. We believe that everyone has something to teach and everyone has something to learn. So if you want to present on a new technology, or have a discussion about innovations in field organizing you’ve encountered, you can. This is about executive directors of national organizations learning from canvassers or brand new organizers discussing strategy with people who’ve been in the field for 50 years.

We set it up this way because it puts everyone on the same level from the moment they walk in the door. There are plenty of places in the world where we already have to deal with being separated in our work. RootsCamp isn’t one of those places.

What should I bring?

Probably a coat and scarf. It’s been chilly around here. Also bring a notebook, some resumés, and a winning smile. Well…the winning smile is optional I suppose, but I felt the need to say something cheesy.

Can Rootscamp help me get a job?

Funny you should ask! Yes! On Saturday from 12-3pm, in association with NOI’s new Work Forward program and sponsored by AFL-CIO, we’ll be hosting our career fair. There will be anywhere between 50-100 employers looking for the brightest organizing talent they can find. So bring a couple resumés and maybe a little something nice to wear. Happily we can claim literally hundreds of organizers have found jobs through our RootsCamp Career Fair.

What are some sessions you found surprising/exciting last year?

Unfortunately I didn’t have the chance to attend many sessions last time as I was running things – and this year will undoubtedly not be very different. But the few that I did stop in on briefly were sessions on how to stay healthy on the campaign trail, an excellent session on Pinterest (of all things), a Troy Davis case study and a debrief of the marriage equality win in New York.

What are you most looking forward to this year?

We have some awesome sessions already proposed and some of our partner sessions are going to be incredible. Upworthy is going to be doing their “How to win the internetz” session which I saw at Netroots and am very excited about. Also there’s a great volunteer recruitment inside edition session being done by some hot lady. There’s actually a huge variety at this point from Veterans organizers to WalMart to LGBT to Women to African American and Immigration…sooo many things will be talked about!

Why is your Twitter handle McBenefit and what's up with you and Pokemon?

I lived in New York for about 13 years and during that time I produced about 200 Broadway concerts and events. Most of which were benefits for different charities. My friends Max von Essen and Scott Nevins coined the nickname “Jamie McBenefit” and it stuck. I figured you could be nicknamed far worse things.

And as for Pokémon, I’ve been a voice actor for the past 14 years and I’ve been doing voices for Pokémon for the past 10 roughly. I’ve spent the past 6 years or so playing Ash’s main rivals, Barry and now Trip. I’ve also worked on Yu-Gi-Oh!, Viva Pinata, One Piece and a bunch of other anime and video games. It’s one of those fun things I get to talk about when we’re done debriefing at RootsCamp!

Seriously. Click here to buy your ticket to the fun!

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