By Special to The Enterprise |PUBLISHED: May 23, 2020
In early March, two local political-action organizations jointly hosted a rousing kickoff rally and celebrated the festive grand opening of their brand new joint Volunteer Center on Olive Drive.
Days later, they were reading through emergency stay-at-home guidelines from the Yolo County Health Department and putting revised signs on the door that effectively shut down their newly-opened center and suspended all of their planned activities, due to the global pandemic.
Kelly Wilkerson of Sister District CA-3 and Rachel Beck of Indivisible Yolo gathered their leadership teams and began to quickly regroup. Dozens of volunteers scrubbed long-made plans for events and activities that would take them through the November 2020 election and began to strategize options for alternative ways of getting the work done.
“For three years, we’ve worked hard to recruit and activate hundreds of volunteers in our community who are distressed about the direction our country has gone since the 2016 election and are motivated to do whatever it takes to bring about a change in 2020,” said Beck.
Added Wilkerson: “We’ve bussed and carpooled to districts all over the West for canvassing. We’ve registered hundreds of voters. We’ve met in homes and cafes all over town and written thousands of postcards. We’ve marched, made thousands of phone calls, and sent hundreds of thousands of texts.
“We were able to raise enough money to open a huge, two-story center that would serve as a hub of operation to coordinate our efforts through November. We were ready to ensure a Blue Wave of change in 2020.”
And then the novel coronavirus hit. State and county guidelines restricted in-person activities, meetings and events. Wholesale change was required.
By mid-March, leadership teams developed a whole new set of action plans and “At-Home Activism” was launched.
“I am so impressed by the creativity and motivation of all of our leadership teams,” said Wilkerson, adding, “We had to dive in and learn entirely new skills and figure out new ways to get the work done. And then teach those skills to our hundreds of volunteers.”
Zoom became a fundamental part of how they operated.
“Zoom is the core of our At-Home Activism strategy,” said Beck. “We use it to train people on a variety of phone banking and text banking platforms, for example. Then we gather our volunteers over Zoom and actually do the work.”
Meghan Miller, a founding member of Sister District CA-3, said it wasn’t easy moving everybody into an online-only world.
Volunteers like Miller and Indivisible Yolo organizer Emily Hill are accustomed to working with virtual platforms.
“A lot of our volunteers are retired,” Hill said. “It’s a big ask for some to make the shift from in-person to online.”
Audrey Pan, who coordinates the postcard writing teams, said, “We had about a dozen groups who would gather together once a week to talk, share their feelings and write postcards to voters. A major draw for those gatherings was social. It’s hard to duplicate that online.”
And yet, since March, Pan’s postcard teams have sent 7,124 postcards to voters all over the country.
Linda Cloud, Chris Craig-Veit and Janette Vine, who coordinate the text banking teams, reported that their volunteers — over a hundred currently active — have sent over 255,000 texts this year.
“We used to meet at the Volunteer Center and train people in person, then they would go home and everyone would be plugged into their texting software sending texts by the hundreds,” Cloud said. “Now we still do that, but we train and gather via Zoom. It’s been challenging, but worth it. Everybody feels really accomplished and like they’re having a significant impact.”
Steve Murphy, Tim Tutt and Katherine Holmes, who organize the phone bank efforts, said their groups have made 6,525 calls since March.
“We offer four two-hour phone banking sessions a week,” said Tutt. “Each one has a steady team of folks who come back week after week and make calls using fairly sophisticated software. It seemed complicated at first, but virtually everyone has grown comfortable with the technique of making calls while in a Zoom meeting. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Said Beck: “It’s a phenomenal effort. In the span of two months, we open a volunteer center, close a volunteer center, cancel a full calendar of events and then turn around and learn a whole new way of doing business. And churn out 7,124 postcards, 6,525 phone calls and over 255,000 texts.
“As Margaret Mead said, ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’”
For information about upcoming trainings and volunteer events visit www.sisterdistrictca3.org or www.indivisibleyolo.org and click on the calendar link.
By Lloyd Knox, Special to the DAVIS ENTERPRISE |PUBLISHED: March 14, 2020
Across the country, thousands of local grassroots political groups — formed in the wake of the 2016 election — are organizing now to support Democrats in November.
Here in Yolo County, Indivisible Yolo and Sister District CA-3 held their Election 2020 Kickoff last week, a call to arms pitched to an audience of almost 200 people. Then, on March 7, they hosted the grand opening of the Election 2020 Volunteer Center.
Their mission: Flip red-state legislatures blue, defend the House of Representatives and flip the Senate, and win the White House for the Democratic nominee.
At March 5’s kickoff event, emotions were palpable as the leadership (mostly women) shared their motivations, experiences and lessons learned.
“The last three years have taught us a lot, but the resounding lesson that shapes our path forward in this moment is that no one is coming to save us,” said Rachel Beck of Indivisible Yolo. “(Robert) Mueller didn’t do it. Impeachment didn’t do it. Neither the Department of Justice nor the judiciary will save us. A Democratic majority in the House (of Representatives) alone isn’t saving us. And even our favorite presidential candidate will not be our savior. So who saves us? We save us.”
The two local grassroots groups are aiming to build on activity and accomplishments of the past few years by recruiting more volunteers. Since 2017, they have reached out to voters via more than 14,000 phone calls, 25,000 postcards and 140,000 texts. Collectively they have spent more than 3,000 days knocking on doors.
The strategy is a broad one, aimed not just at the White House, but also the Senate, the House of Representatives and even state legislatures.
“In key swing states like Arizona and Pennsylvania, Republican legislatures are keeping Democrats from winning through gerrymandering and voter suppression,” said Kelly Wilkerson of Sister District CA-3. “We need to work strategically to flip state legislatures blue and give Democrats a fair fight in every state.”
Beck expanded on the strategy: “To save our democracy we must drive overwhelming voter turnout, enough voters to vote the GOP out of office up and down the ballot. Enough voters that we negate the impacts of voter roll purges, the closing of polling places, racist voter ID laws, exact match voter registration laws and the like. That takes work. It happens with person to person, voter to voter contact. One voter at a time.”
After the overview from Beck and Wilkerson, the audience heard from the leaders of the efforts in phone calling, texting, writing postcards, canvassing (knocking on doors) and registering new voters.
“We don’t canvass in our district because we’re safely blue. So for us, canvassing usually involves a road trip to a nearby congressional district,” explained Kari Peterson.
Audrey Pan spoke about writing postcards to voters, and then about her 10-year-old son.
“Just the other day, as my son was cooking some simple soup for himself, he said he’s just as independent as a 5th grader we saw in a movie; because in the movie, the child’s mother was hospitalized long term, forcing the child to grow up. My son said his mother is postcardalized and activistalized. He understands we have something precious to save, our Democracy and our only home, Mother Earth.”
The event ended with a call for commitments to participate in the work.
“The last thing I want you to take away from tonight is, ‘Whew, they got this’,” said Emily Hill of Indivisible Yolo. “Because we do not ‘got this.’ But together? We’ve got this.”
Center of attention
Two days later came the grand opening of the Election 2020 Volunteer Center at 720 E. Olive Dr.
The opening attracted the attendance of local politicians like Davis City Councilman Lucas Frerichs and Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor, as well as professional grassroots organizers Bobby Michaels of the national Indivisible organization and Andrew Kim, field director and strategist with Flip the West.
The center is the result of a local fundraising effort that paid the rent through the Nov. 3 election.
“We are extremely grateful for the generous support from the community that has made this facility possible,” said Wilkerson. “We are now equipped to work to win the most consequential election of our lives.”
Michaels told the crowd, “This is the only Indivisible group across the country that has opened its own brick and mortar volunteer center.”
Added Kim: “Many of the local chapters of these national groups are fighting with each other over limited local resources. But Sister District CA-3 and Indivisible Yolo are working together toward their common goals. It’s paying off. They are building a large, positive, effective community of volunteers. And they are doing it now. This is when elections are won. Not on election day, but months in advance.”
By WOODLAND DAILY DEMOCRAT |PUBLISHED: February 20, 2020
Sister District CA-3 and Indivisible Yolo will hold their “Election 2020 Kickoff” event on Thursday, March 5, and the grand opening of their Election 2020 Volunteer Center on Saturday, March 7.
Sister District CA-3 and Indivisible Yolo are local chapters of two national groups that sprung up as a result of the 2016 election of President Donald Trump. Both groups have supported political campaigns at a variety of levels, both in California and in other states, as well as worked to hold members of Congress accountable.
The California primary will come to a close on March 3, and momentum is building toward the general election.
“The time is right,” said Kelly Wilkerson, part of the leadership team of Sister District CA-3, “to be ready to welcome a large expansion in our number of volunteers.”
At the March 5 Kick-Off Rally at the Veteran’s Memorial Center in Davis, 7 to 8:30 p.m., the groups will be detailing all the ways volunteers can contribute: phonebanks, texting, canvassing, voter registration and writing postcards to voters.
Rachel Beck, a leader of Indivisible Yolo, said, “Hundreds of volunteers have been working for three years now on a variety of election campaigns, both in California and in other states. But to succeed in 2020 we really need a lot more people to join us.”
At the Election 2020 Kickoff, leaders from Sister District CA-3 and Indivisible Yolo will explain their plan to flip the Senate, defend the House, flip states blue, and win back the presidency from the Republican Party. This event takes place at the Veterans Memorial Center MPR, on 203 E. 14th St. in Davis.
On Saturday, March 7 at 10 a.m. will be the Grand Opening of the Election 2020 Volunteer Center at 720 E. Olive Drive No. D in Davis.
“With this new facility we are taking a big leap, enabling us to channel our energy and our hopes into action,” said Beck.
The Center is the result of a local fundraising effort that paid the rent through the Nov. 3 election. “We are extremely grateful for the generous support from the community that has made this facility possible,” said Wilkerson. “We are now equipped to work to win the most consequential election of our lives.”
The Grand Opening will begin with a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony, followed by opportunities to get right to work. Coffee and doughnuts will be on the house as volunteers spend the morning phone banking to voters in red districts.
Volunteers will also be able to check out postcard packets to take home to write to voters in key races.
Text-banking with training for beginners will happen in the afternoon from 1 to 4 p.m. Text-bankers and phone-bankers should bring a charged laptop or tablet and cell phone. Phone-bankers generally find it helpful to bring earbuds.
New volunteers will be joining ones who have worked for one, two, or three years already. Sue Barton, who heads up Welcoming and Recruiting for Sister District CA-3 reflected on the existing volunteer base.
“Not only have we been engaged in effective political action, we’ve built a supportive community,” she reported. “I find it comforting to be working shoulder to shoulder with like-minded individuals. Most of us were not politically active prior to the 2016 election. We’ve been figuring this out together and building an even bigger skilled volunteer group.”
Letters to the Editor, DAVIS ENTERPRISE |PUBLISHED: February 12, 2020
Do you feel that democracy and the rule of law are under attack? Do you want to protect what you love and value? Do you want Democratic control of the White House, Senate, and House of Representatives? If so, I have some good news.
Right here in Davis are opportunities, with groups like Sister District CA-3 and Indivisible Yolo, to work shoulder-to-shoulder with like-minded people. As long as we have freedom of speech, let’s use it to defend democracy, the rule of law and the environment, and to expand access to education and health care.
I often hear that because we’re in California, in a solidly blue district, there are no opportunities to influence national politics. But in fact we can, and do, reach out to voters in other districts in a variety of ways. One of them might be a good fit for you. Some of us send postcards to voters in support of various campaigns.
Some of us will be traveling to nearby districts that flipped from red to blue in 2018, in order to keep them blue by knocking on doors to talk with voters. Some of us are already getting out to these districts to register voters. Some of us phone voters in states with key senate races. Some of us textbank – we use a texting platform, accessed through our laptops, to have texting conversations with voters (without exposing our own phone numbers). Some are motivating (with postcards, text messages, or phone calls) voters in key state government races because of how they will influence congressional redistricting in 2021.
We are all part of a growing community. We want you on board. Join us! Bring a friend! You could drop by our Volunteer Center on 720 Olive Drive this Thursday, Feb. 13, between 6 and 8:30 p.m. for training in textbanking.
The forces aligned against us are powerful. The stakes are high. I know it’s a big ask but we need you. Look up Sister District CA-3 and/or Indivisible Yolo. Reach out to us. We’ll welcome you and train you to engage in the activity of your choice. You’ll be glad you did.