Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Renewal Awards - Platform to Employment from Atlantic Re:think

The Renewal Awards - Platform to Employment from Atlantic Re:think on Vimeo.

Platform to Employment educates job seekers and connects them with employment. It is a 2015 recipient of the Allstate Renewal Awards for solving community challenges.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Emily Ellsworth: What you need to know before you call your member of congress!

What you need to know before you call your member of congress!

Posted by Emily E Ellsworth on Monday, November 14, 2016

Emily's tweetstorm went viral, and it's absolutely worth the read:

Thursday, November 17, 2016

President Obama: Protesters shouldn't be silent

From CMF: One Person’s Story of Becoming a Super-Citizen-Advocate

From the Congressional Management Foundation:

Bob O'Hara set out to enhance his skills as a citizen-advocate and see if what CMF proposed would really work in the real world.

He called up the district office for his congressman and asked for a meeting with the district director. He was stunned that he got an instant "yes," and eventually had a 45-minute meeting with the legislator's senior staff in the district! In the last few years he's had many meetings in Massachusetts and Washington with delegation members and other NoLabels supporters. Each time the process is easy – call the office, set up a time, show up and make your pitch.

Bob became an advocate for No Labels, but there's no reason we cannot adopt what he learned and use it ourselves.

Calling Congress - some common and important rules

I'm updating this information from sources across the web: please let me know if you have any suggestions to make the process easier and more impactful. Thanks!

Who to call:
  • For Federal issues, your Representative and your two Senators. Use the Common Cause "Find Your Elected Officials" tool to list your Federal and state legislators.
  • For issue-specific calls, reach out to a national organization that shares your views: they do this for a living, so they're probably more effective in advocating on your behalf, and every little bit helps.

Know what you want to say.
Jot down a quick draft if you need to: I find it helps. Answer these five questions:
  1. Who are you?
  2. Where are you calling from?
  3. Why are you calling?
  4. What do you want your representative to do?
  5. When would be a good time to follow up?

Be nice. Have you ever picked up a phone, only to hear someone shouting at you? Did you want to keep talking to that person? No? Then don't be that person. Be nice and be polite. If you're not automatically directed to voicemail, you'll probably end up speaking with a volunteer or a low-level staffer. You're making a first impression, so make it a good one.

Be a constituent. This is really important, and bears repeating: be a constituent. When you call your representatives, identify yourself, and give your address. Don't waste your time and efforts by calling someone you can't vote for.

What to expect. At first, the person you're speaking to will probably note your name and address, the issue you're calling about, and whether you're for it or against it. That's a good first step! It's quick and to the point, and lets your voice be heard.

Other possibilities. It's possible that your call will be transferred from your local district office to a DC office. Repeat the steps above, and good job!

Following up. You might not get an answer the first time. Maybe the representative isn't aware of the issue, doesn't have a position yet, or might be hedging or evasive... and that's okay at first. Ask to call back at a later time, then follow up.

Ask to speak to the Legislative Assistant who focuses on your issue: they're the people who "monitor pending legislation, conduct research, draft legislation, give advice and counsel, and make recommendations" - in other words, the people you ultimately do want to speak to.

Constituent events. Town halls. "Get to know your Representative" events. Ask if there are any coming up, and if you can attend.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

This Is Not Normal

I first started writing in this blog to advocate for a cause that directly impacted me: long-term unemployment and the Great Recession.

Thanks to the Obama Administration, the economy has healed: if not completely, it has made significant steps. There are structural issues that have to be addressed, but now, a new crisis has arisen.

The incoming Trump Administration is already causing terrible harm to our nation, and my focus in this blog will shift to documenting efforts to work with political representatives and advocacy groups to prevent what damage we can.

Let's make something clear: this is not an "I'm against everything Trump stand for" screed. This *is* an "I'm against every un-American belief that Trump has leveraged in pursuit of his goals" screed.

Donald J. Trump has used xenophobia, misogyny, racism, Islamophobia, bigotry and other un-American beliefs to become President. The GOP has aided and abetted him, most directly through voter suppression efforts.

This is not normal.

Donald J. Trump's Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor, Steve Bannon, is a white nationalist and an anti-Semite.

This is not acceptable.

Media Matters has written "The Complete History Of Donald Trump's Relationship With The White Nationalist Movement" - please take the time to read it.

As I've posted on Twitter: I will always respect the office of the President. The man who is about to sits behind the desk does not, and I will resist his agenda and every un-American belief he holds.

I will not be alone. It's time to roll up your sleeves. Let's get to work.