All On The Line
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All On The Line

Oh, was it cold in January? These organizers didn’t notice.

By Kevin Lane, OFA Training Projects Manager

January just flew by — and what a way to kick-off the new year! And even though it’s been a cold January here in Chicago, the organizing and community activism we saw from OFA volunteers around the country helped warm my soul.

When I ran the OFA Campus Organizing Academy, I thought a lot about how to motivate young people to start getting involved in the political process and how to help develop them into the leaders of tomorrow. As a trainer here at OFA’s headquarters, it’s been so inspiring to see the organizing work of OFA volunteers and alumni ripple across the country, and actually see a tangible impact even in just the first few weeks of the year.

These volunteers, activists, and organizers deserve a serious nod — and everyone should know that the community engagement work they’re doing is laying the groundwork for 2018 to be one of the most successful years for organizing in recent history. While it’s true that, as a progressive movement, we’re facing significant challenges from both Congress and this administration, it’s because of passionate individuals like the folks highlighted below that keep me hopeful.

Take a look at just a few examples of what I mean. This is organizing at its best.

For dozens of OFA groups around the country, the holiday weekend of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (January 12–15) was a weekend on, not a weekend off. Groups in Atlanta (GA), East Bay (CA), Philadelphia (PA), Houston (TX), Maui (HI), and many more used OFA’s Voter Registration Toolkit to help their neighbors get themselves registered to vote — because for too long, too many voices have been left out.

The following week, on the one-year anniversary of the Women’s March, concerned citizens nationwide show up in force to and renew their commitment to fighting against efforts to undermine rights and protections for women, immigrants, and America’s most vulnerable communities. And when I say they showed up, I mean it.

OFA volunteers fed off of that energy, internalized it, and doubled down to continue the often challenging, but necessary work of community organizing. They made visits to congressional offices in places like Virginia, California, and Iowa to send a clear message to elected officials: Your duty is to fight for your constituents, not to rubber-stamp this administration’s dangerous agenda to win favor with the White House.

Organizers showed up for the thousands of young immigrants, who are Americans in every way but on paper, and who have already lost or are close to losing their legal status, simply because leaders in Washington want to use them as a political bargaining chip. Millions of Americans across the country want a permanent solution to protect the hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients whose lives, livelihoods, and families are at stake. And OFA volunteers will keep standing up, speaking out for them — even joining partners on bus tours to confront Rubber Stamp Reps’ at their home offices until they do.

As the State of the Union approached, organizers continued to focus on building relationships and ways to bring their communities together. While the news cycle was consumed with a bombastic speech, OFA volunteers were putting their efforts into something meaningful and productive: expanding access to and participation in our democracy. They hosted Civic Power Parties in places like Westside Los Angeles, Cleveland, and Las Vegas , helping people register themselves to vote — and commit to showing up at the polls in 2018.

And when congressional leaders shut down the government over a manufactured crisis, these folks were ready to respond. They showed up in places like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Nevada, North Carolina, and Mississippi, because the choice between funding health insurance for 9 million children and protecting 800,000 young DREAMers was always a false one, designed by congressional leaders to divide Americans for political expediency.

That’s not how responsible governance is supposed to work. If there’s one message to deliver in 2018, it’s this: We all deserve better.

That’s all for now, but if February is anything like this last month, we’ll have lots to report back on next time.

Until then, be well, keep organizing, and take care of yourselves.

PS — Here in Chicago, the OFA headquarters team launched a new, easy-to-use website (we’re very excited about it)! If you haven’t already, go check it out, share it with your networks, and help us get more folks involved.



All On The Line is the grassroots movement to end gerrymandering and restore fairness to our elections and democracy ahead of 2021 redistricting. Join us:

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