Finally, today, I felt like an organizer.
Jenny, a math teacher at Elm Creative Arts school, wrangled together a team that can succeed, and I couldn't be more excited.
Thank god for Miles.
Jenny McKillen came into 170 S Second street once, about a month ago. That office was a jungle, filled with cables like pythons, always at your neck ready to strangle you. At the time, my organization needed help. It was lacking leaders, people that would be able to bring this diverse and divided community together. Nicole Derse, the state field director, calls these leaders Obama Team Members. I do to.
Jenny walked into the office wondering if we still needed volunteers. She found out quickly that we needed much more than that. Our first conversation was about what it meant to be an Obama Team Member--one responsible for organizing their community, accountable for meeting metrics set by the campaign, and trained to do it. It meant at least 10 hours a week.
"You know, Tyler," she said, "I've been thinking about getting involved like this, but I've felt like I needed a little push." Then she paused. It was a pregnant pause--I could see that her body was tight, her mouth clenched, and in her eyes I could see that if I said the just the right thing, with inspiration and purpose, she would be hooked. Instead I said nothing, but smiled, and met her gaze.
Jenny made her own decision, relying on her own purpose.
Tonight she held her first meeting, bringing in two more team members: Lisa (her daughter) and Lisa (her colleague). Miles prepared for the meeting. The team, Team One, got their metrics: 990 doors knocked this week, 500 dials. Plus, they needed 189 canvass shifts filled for Election day, 100 more for the entire Get Out the Vote weekend, and they needed to recruit 4 more leaders to manage those canvassers.
That's a helluva tall order for 25 days, but no one backed out. Instead, Jenny, Lisa, and Lisa quickly started indentifying other friends, relatives, co-workers who could come. They figured out how many canvasses they would need to have to make 990 knocks.
They pooled their resources, their energy, and their commitment.
On Monday, they will have a canvass with at least 8 people, and they're still building. They decided to have one on Thursday too, and afterwards they'd go out for some Gautemalan food. Each one of them there was going to take off work on Election Day.
In the little conference room in the back of the old Region 4 UAW building, 5 individuals shared a vision, put aside individual insecurities, and grabbed hold of the moment. All for change, for progress, and united by a simple truth. Hope.
'Organizing' is a seeing. It is about seeing the relationships around you, and not the relationships to you. It is about seeing the common purpose, and understanding its intrinsic value. Organizing is seeing harmony in the space between perspectives, instead of discord.
Organizing is about celebrating the individual within the movement.