Project Wonderful

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Monday, October 22, 2018

Get Those GOTV Shifts

If you leave a GOTV training not daunted by your recruitment goals-you're doing it wrong. GOTV recruitment goals are always intimidating and yet they always (or almost always) get met with the right combination of preparation and determination. In order to meet those goals we have to be hungry for every shift. To help you meet your goals I've listed some things to think through in order to make sure no stone is left unturned. For the purposes of this blog (and any field program I oversee) a "shift" counts if your volunteer has committed to a specific date and time (and ideally location) for at least a 3 hour block of voter contact and it is recorded in whatever database you use. "I will drop by" "I will see if I can make it" and/or driving people to polls do not count as shifts. These happen best with a specific ask that includes a sense of urgency and details of the activity in question. For more on what makes a good vol recruitment script click here.

1) Every sign in from every event list you have- This is a no brainer. Of course you've been calling these lists all cycle but you've also probably ramped up your events over the past month. As soon as a GOTV event is over get it entered and get it called. People are most likely to be a yes while they're still excited.
2) Get specific shifts AT events. Why add an extra step to the process? Depending on the size of the event my absolute best practice is to have your event speaker announce to attendees that we need their help knocking doors and making calls during the next few days and instruct them to approach a staff member with a clipboard. Then have staff spread throughout the event hold up a clipboard filled with sheets like this one. Then THEY keep the sheet they filled out as a reminder and your staff member gets a record by taking a picture on their phone.
3) Ask people to bring a friend. So you're on the phone and you've locked in a shift for election day. Excellent! Next step "Awesome! Phone calls are always more fun with a friend. Is there anyone you think you can bring with you?" Boom. Additional shift.
4) Get remote phonebankers. The next few tips involve calling in the cavalry. If this is not your first time at the campaign rodeo chances are you have some people in your life who want to help but don't physically live near by. Now is the time to create a remote calling program- and make an ask of your family and friends. It's a great way for friends and family who don't have time to travel outside their safe districts to get involved. I recommend having one staff member or intern whose job it is to manage this and your out of state vol program so it doesn't turn into a throw away but a really program with accountability that augments your in-district operation.
5) Bring in out of state volunteers. You've got your out of state phone bankers but they want to do MORE, MORE, MORE! Identify some supporter housing and set to work. Again this works best when one person is dedicated to managing and following up with your OOS vol program. Places to look for possible out of state (or district) vols are Young Dems or College Dems in adjacent states/districts without a competitive race, out of state friends of staff or the candidate, and Presidential campaign alumni groups.
6) Talk to endorsing organizations. Your candidate has endorsements. Those endorsements are from groups. Sometimes those groups have local members. Identify their group leaders and set to work. Do you best to get names and contact information for specific volunteers with times and locations that they can help out. Depending on the group it might work better to have a "Planned Parenthood canvass for Katie" on the Saturday before Election Day rather than trying to slot in individual shifts. Have a conversation with the people who lead the group and find out what they think will work best. Be kind and flexible but also get specifics and let them know you are counting on them for what they commit to. Some is not a number and soon is not a time.
7) Invite endorsing candidates' staff. It's in everyone's interest to flip the house (or chamber, council etc) and let's face it- GOTV is a really fun holiday, especially when you get to parachute in from outside. If your candidate has friends or supporting electeds in a safe seat it may be that their staff is eager to help as well. (Note before someone jumps down my throat, staff volunteering on campaigns is just that, VOLUNTARY, no one is suggesting your endorsers break the law.)
8) Message your Facebook/Twitter likes. I've seen a lot of campaigns that contact people on social media who say they want to volunteer but leave untapped people who post messages like "Rooting for you!" or "You've got my vote!" Just like you'd call all your 1's and ask them to help during crunch time these people are low-hanging fruit who might just need to be asked to get involved. Slide into those DMs!
9)Ask every person who walks in to sign up for GOTV. Again, duh but does EVERYONE in your office know this or just the organizers? Train your whole staff and every rockstar volunteer to ask everyone who walks in the door the magical question "Have you signed up to take off election day with the campaign?" Hang giant post-it notes or other visual aids for people to sign up as soon as they walk in the door.
10)Your campaign staff. This is slight cheating but hey shifts are shifts. What is your call time manager doing on Election Day? Probably not call time. Be realistic (ex: maybe your Comms Director can knock some doors but at someone she'll probably also have to deal with the press) but also make sure your Campaign Manager sets the expectation that GOTV is all hands on deck. Then goes those shifts in your database!


Campaign Love and Mine,


Sunday, October 21, 2018

Healing Justice and Surviving Elections With Kate Werning

I spend a lot of my time thinking about campaign culture (duh). What makes it magical, what makes it difficult and how can we make it easier to sustain? So I was thrilled when Kate Werning reached out to me about her podcast Healing Justice and specifically her mini-series on Surviving Elections. After listening to earlier episodes, I felt completely intimidated and also a little defensive. After all, the goals and the intentionality behind movement work are just not possible in the same way when you have an impending deadline. Lucky for me that's what this mini-series is about!

Since Kate interviewed me, I figured turnabout is fair play and wanted to share more about her and her extraordinary project below. To listen to the mini-series (not just because of me but it's SO GOOD) click here.

Who are you? Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m a Midwesterner, a community organizer and trainer, and a yoga and healing practitioner. I’ve got 10 years in the game working with social movements, raised by the brilliance of the Dreamer & immigrant rights movement, the Wisconsin Uprising, get out the vote efforts to defeat Paul Ryan, and learnings from holding trainings for leaders working on climate justice, Movement for Black Lives, student organizing, worker rights, and more. I co-founded a collective house in Brooklyn called Hoop House, and am a total grandma about hot epsom salt baths. They cure everything.

What is Healing Justice Podcast?

I started Healing Justice Podcast because on November 9, 2016, the accumulated overwhelm of what we’re facing as a nation hit me with a weight that seemed to both speed up time and also freeze me in place. I am so grateful to have access to peers and teachers who help me find the emotional capacity and strategic options to move forward in times like these -- but so many of us don’t have access to mentors like that. So, I decided to share those conversations.

Healing Justice Podcast is democratizing access to perspectives and practices to integrate longer term vision, healing, and sustainability into our organizing work. It’s supporting us to stay the course to win, and also not lose love for our own lives in the process. We’ve shared the voices of over 80 guests with 70+ episodes in our first year, and the numbers show a deep hunger for this conversation right now: we’ve hit 500,000 downloads and landed in the top 7% of podcasts. Our people need this work.

What inspired you to do the “Surviving Elections” mini-series?

My relationship to elections is a fraught one. 2008 was the first presidential election I could cast my vote in, believing wholeheartedly in the change Obama promised. Under Obama we won DACA and other important advances, and also saw more deportations than ever before in US history. During the Wisconsin Uprising in my home state in 2011, our energized mass resistance movement get channeled into a recall election strategy that ultimately squeezed out some of the oxygen of our momentum and failed. Failed so hard that Scott Walker has now been elected, re-elected in the recall election, and re-elected again. I worked on a national campaign to mobilize wellness practitioners to vote in 2016, and again we came up short.

I just finished up working on the Organizing Team of the Cynthia Nixon campaign here in New York, and there is so much I experienced there about that campaign in particular, and electoral politics in this country in general, that was vibrantly hopeful as well as deeply discouraging. I wanted to dive deeper into those paradoxes and knew my peeps need that conversation, too.

The questions posed in our trailer for the series are exactly it: how do we grapple with the inherent compromises and contradictions elections require? Is there a way for people working on campaigns to move at a pace that is anything close to sustainable? Is there anyone who knows how to use the VAN and be a kind person? (OK, that last one is pretty unfair, but I’m not the one who said it!)

What can we expect from the series?

Through the “Surviving Elections” podcast miniseries, we’re talking to social movement organizers like Sunrise Movement about how elections can play into a movement building strategy, campaign managers (including you! yay!) about cultivating healthy campaign culture that leaves strong infrastructure behind after election day, and candidates about their experience running for office. The Campaign Workers Guild joins us to talk about the movement they’re building to organize for workers’ rights in politics, and I share a little bit about our unionization process on the Cynthia Nixon campaign.

Our final episode will be released the day after the election so we can process the results and what’s next––with young leaders of color who are shaping the current progressive wave like Alexandra Rojas of Justice Democrats, and lifelong activists like Professor Barbara Dudley who help us understand ourselves in a longer-term movement arc.

What is one thing you think “campaign people” can learn from movement work?

A longer perspective. The short time frame and pop-up nature of electoral campaigns can create a “churn and burn” culture that can leave us and our volunteers broken at the end of it. We have to be careful with each other. The campaign will end, but hopefully our relationships do not. The volunteer infrastructure, fundraising capacity, strategic alignment, and relational networks built during campaigns is such a massive precious resource -- and movements are thinking long term about how to mobilize those resources into huge collective shifts, turning tides that cannot be reversed. Campaign staff needs to be asking local leadership how the campaign can feed into their longer strategy, exercise patience and listening, and join with the local progressive vision in service of those who will remain doing the work after E-day comes and goes.

What is one thing you think “movement” people can learn from campaigns?

My movement building community (Momentum) has taught me to focus on moving public opinion to change the political weather and force politicians’ and candidates’ hands. I really believe that is the path to lasting change. Yet as I organized on the Cynthia Nixon gubernatorial campaign here in New York, I experienced the incredible power of an unapologetically progressive campaign to change the conversation, move decision-makers to the left, and energize new imagination in the progressive public. I think movement organizers need to understand electoral campaigns as actions in their own right - they have the power to galvanize and train thousands of new leaders, polarize the public, and dramatize heroes and villains for our issues. What if we related to electoral campaigns not as an ultimate solution, but as campaign cycles that can feed into our longer vision?

What surprised you working on the Cynthia Nixon campaign?

I was pleasantly surprised by the vision for the role I was invited into, which I believe is rare on a campaign. As the Hub Organizer, I worked with specific constituencies. I am most proud of what we accomplished with #DisabilityJustice4Cynthia, a group of disabled activists who gave major input into Cynthia’s disability platform, organized actions, helped fundraise, and did self-directed visibility work on Election Day.

Together we hosted a Virtual Town Hall, which was an hour-long virtual event dedicated to Q&A on Cynthia’s disability platform. We had talented Closed Captioners and ASL interpreters, and practiced the ins and outs of the tech to ensure it was as accessible as possible. Cynthia addressed the intersectional lens required to be an advocate for disability justice, and we had so many comments from people that had never in their lives heard a candidate understand the wildly varying issues faced by different folks in the disability community. People were so happy to be able to join such an accessible space and hear their concerns addressed so directly.

This surprised me because I think it is rare for a campaign as big as ours to invest that deeply in relationship and accountability to specific communities. I was so happy that the leadership saw this as a priority, and I know that through the work we did together we are leaving behind a stronger network of incredible disability justice activists who are now more connected and will undoubtedly continue to move the necessary policies that were included in our platform forward.

If there’s one thing people come away with from Healing Justice what would you want it to be?

We need you. You matter. All of the policies and visions we are fighting for… the things we so deeply believe all people deserve… you deserve them too. And if we can have rigor around remembering and practicing that belief with skill and determination, that power radiates into the work we are able to move in the world.

What’s a practice from the podcast that would be great for campaign people?

Ooh. I’d go with the Compartmentalizing in a Healthy Way practice. Having Je NaĆ© Taylor in your ear helping walk you through overwhelm, anger, emotion, whatever -- is such a clear and practical encouragement, and it’s just 11 minutes long. [Editor's note: I am so glad Kate picked this one because I've adopted it myself since listening to that episode.] This is a great one to put on in your headphones after an infuriating interaction with your supervisor, an unsettling volunteer or canvassing interaction, or if something’s coming up in your personal life but you just really need to focus at work right now.

If you’re really ready to stretch, the Relational Inclusion practice is powerful -- it is an exercise to understand where someone else is coming from when it feels totally impossible. We need this skill deeply on campaigns, where the pace can exacerbate conflict amongst ourselves getting entrenched and feeling insurmountable - I hope we aren’t too far gone to be open to it (ha!).

There are so many great ones for also getting back into our bodies, too -- Somatic Centering, Emotional Freedom Technique, and more… it’s so hard to choose!

What else do you want us to know?

I am so grateful for all the folks working on campaigns right now, on behalf of all our futures. Your labor is such a gift to all of us. Eyes on the prize -- this has been and will continue to be a long game fight. Let’s do all we can this cycle, and be good to ourselves and one another along the way. Because after November 6th, November 7th comes, and if we still have each other, then our movement can keep growing. Onward.

Join the “Surviving Elections” email list to receive a weekly email that isn’t asking you to chip in $3 before the reporting deadline! We’ll send you new podcast episodes when they drop, along with a weekly Election Survival Tip.

You can listen to Healing Justice Podcast on most podcast listening platforms. Our favorites are RadioPublic and Apple Podcasts. Talk with us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.