1,500 learn and connect at We the People Summit

Photo credit: We the People Summit Facebook.

This past Saturday, the 1,500 attendees of the first official We the People Summit took the Phoenix Convention Center by storm.

Throughout the day the attendees from all across Arizona attended some 36 panels offered in six sessions and had the chance to interact with over a dozen organizations tabling in the exhibit halls.

The Summit was geared toward connecting the massive wave of new activists to organizations and skills needed to make a change in the system.

“For me, the summit was a way for people to gain more skills, be more aware of what is happening in their communities, and how they can make an even bigger impact beyond writing letters and phone calls,” Murphy Bannerman, a We the People Summit steering committee member, said.

The panelists from the Building Local Issue Campaigns session. Left to right: Former Attorney General Terry Goddard, Tony Valdovinos, Mayor Coral Evans and Petra Falcon. Photo credit: We the People Summit.

Bannerman is one of several core organizers which included Tricia Sauer, Jennifer Jermaine as the Executive Director of the Summit and State Representative Ken Clark. Other notable organizers of the Summit included Jess Herbert from PAFCO, Barbara Lubin from the Arizona Democratic Party, Tempe Elementary School District Vice President Patrick Morales, Mesa Public School Board Member Kiana Sears, Rivko Knox from the League of Women Voters and many more.

The group brought in over a 100 speakers and organizations at the Summit with Bannerman overseeing workshops focusing on gender, race, millennials, and assisting with the women’s rights workshops.

Bannerman and the group focused on making sure the panels were diverse and ensuring there were women of color on the women’s rights panel and that their perspective was shared.

Since the Summit, the group has heard a lot of positive feedback with attendees feeling energized and equipped with new ideas.

Though it did cost a significant amount of money to rent out the Convention Center and provide security and materials for the Summit, the Summit was made possible by the support of many community organizations who shared the feeling that there was the need for a mass training, like Children’s Action Alliance, Ability360, Arizona List, Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, the Arizona Democratic Party and VPA Arizona.

A packed house for the Why Redistricting Matters panel. Photo credit: We the People Summit.

The sponsors benefited as well with the opportunity to get signatures for referendums, such as the voucher expansion and initiative reform to the ballot while signing up new recruits to their organizations.

In fact, Bannerman states that the homework for attendees is to “take what they learned and the organizations they have met and get plugged in as they go forward.”

Once in organizations, individuals are part of a community that helps stave off the loneliness of activism and provides them with supportive action alerts to tell them when their effort is most needed.

Now that the first Summit has come to a close, the organizers are taking in feedback to incorporate in the next Summit to come in October.

For Bannerman, this first Summit serves as a reminder that the attendees are determined to make a change and that, “Arizona is going to be prepped and prepared for mid-term elections in 2018.”


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