Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Joinin' in

Tips on organizing
On Saturday, February 19th, I took part in something called "Grassroots Volunteer Training."   Without really knowing much about it, I signed up for the event several weeks back, in response to an email message that came my way somehow.

(Hoodwinked, I say!  I thought the event was to be roadie tryouts for an upcoming reunion tour of the old 60s band!  (A joke...  that's what I call a joke, people.  Aw, come on!))

To tell you the truth, I wasn't all that excited about spending the day listening to a presentation about how to organize, but with everything that is going on all over the world, and especially in our own Rust Belt, I felt I had a responsibility to do my part.  To join in.

Impressive turnout
It was an all-day event.  So I was more than a little surprised when I arrived and saw the turnout.  Lots of people, fired up and ready to get to work.  And why not?  If we proved anything in this last election, Oregon progressives have a great ground game.  The Republican party in this state has no answer for it.  (And, Governor Kitzhaber, you're welcome.)

Kinda looks like an "O," don't it?
The event was actually organized by several groups:
  • The Democratic Party of Oregon
  • The Multnomah County Democrats
  • The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 48, and...
  • An organization calling itself "Organizing for America-Oregon"
There is a degree of irony in all of this, since I am neither a registered Democrat, nor a union member.  But I usually line up pretty close to them on most issues.  The last group, "Organizing for America," was new to me. 

Well, according to the organization's web site:  "Organizing for America, the successor organization to Obama for America, is building on the movement that elected President Obama by empowering communities across the country to bring about our agenda of change."  There's more here.

Break-out sessions
Early in the event, as part of an ice-breaking exercise, the dedicated volunteers who ran the event (names escape me, I'm afraid) were passing around a microphone and asking people what the term "grassroots" meant to them.  When my turn came, I said "Solidarity.  Especially with our brethren in Wisconsin."  That elicited a cheer and a round of applause and made my day.

I enjoyed the event, believe it or not.  I met a lot of my neighbors in the break-out sessions.  The event coordinators were incredibly organized, motivated, and good at their jobs.  They kept the event moving; they exuded positive energy.  The prep team had our names, email addresses, areas of residence, all of it cataloged and referenced.  It was an impressive achievement.  Hats off to the folks at Organizing for America.  Great job, you guys.

Hiked on up to Tabor in the afternoon
But I didn't stay for the whole thing.  I had to get back home so I could get in my hike and get cleaned up. 

Maty and I, partyin' with the Gambians
Maty and I had a party to attend that night, you see.  It was Gambian Independence Day and we have many Gambian friends...

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