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December 4, 2012 / stacieshap

Ideals Aren’t Enough — We’re Taking Action

Needham 2012From Stacie Shapiro — Needham grassroots volunteers worked hard in the 2012 campaign, for Barack Obama in New Hampshire, and locally, for Elizabeth Warren and Joe Kennedy. We knocked on doors, made phone calls, held signs, wrote letters, and played an active role in getting our democratic candidates elected.

Sunday, we met again to discuss how we can keep the momentum going and find ways to stay engaged in the political process now that the election is over.

We shared our experiences from the campaign, and although there were many different highlights, a few themes were prominent:

Personal interaction with voters as well as organizers was critical.

  • The grassroots organizers for the different campaigns (Needham for Obama, Needham for Elizabeth Warren) were welcoming and made it easy to get involved and stay involved.

  • The physical presence of the Democratic Town Committee Headquarters was a huge help in keeping volunteers connected with the campaign.  It allowed for more personal interaction with other volunteers and organizers.

  • Volunteers felt that the one-on-one interaction with voters, at the doors and on the phones, was powerful and persuasive.  Wearing buttons, holding signs and displaying lawn signs helped to spark up conversations with friends, neighbors and passers by.

Engaging new voters and new volunteers in the electoral process serves us well now and in the future.

  • Voter outreach in underrepresented communities was both rewarding and yielded great electoral results.  It proved that we still have a voice as long as we show up to the polls.

  • In Needham, a few high school students, with the help of Progressive Mass training and Harmony Wu, set up a campaign team that grew into a powerful force with 50 students campaigning on Election Day! We were all very inspired by the hard work and commitment of the students and hopeful about what this means for the future of civic engagement.

(For a fuller accounting of “what worked/what didn’t,” see our notes from the evening)

Activists!After the election debrief, we discussed advocating for issues on the state level.  As many as 6,000 bills will be filed in the MA Legislature next month.  Most will not be controversial, but it’s critical that we have a system that alerts us to those we need to speak-out on, either defensively against bad bills, or as advocates for great policy that needs our grassroots support to survive the political system.

We seem to be in agreement that all the issues we care about; health care, education, jobs, MBTA and much more, hang in the balance of the revenue crisis, and that progressive revenue reform is something we could likely all get behind.  We are hopeful that a bill will be filed in the current session that supports progressive revenue reform, much like the bill “An Act to Invest in Our Community,” from the last legislative session.  Some of us are already preparing to advocate for it with our legislators, and making plans to educate the community through grassroots outreach and community presentations.

There is much more to discuss, and people are enthusiastic about keeping things going. We understand that it’s not enough to have ideals and be passionate about them, we need to act upon them and turn them into policy.

Great discussionsWe’ll be getting together soon after the new year to share more thoughts and ideas, and come up with a strategy for moving forward. We welcome new partners in our work! For Needham area activists whom we haven’t met yet, you can get plugged in by signing up at Progressive Mass.  Also, contact us at (NeedhamGrassroots@massroots.org) and we’ll make sure to invite you to the next meeting!

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