When I started at DC Vote, I was a bit disappointed. I was sat down in a secretary’s desk and told that I would help monitor their social media. One problem: I have no personal social media accounts other than my email, so my failure was already set in stone. For the first two weeks I refilled the lifesavers mint jar that the canvassers aggressively ate everyday as if they were starving; stared at DC Vote’s Facebook and Twitter pages, wondering if reading comments was all I was supposed to do; deciphered sloppy handwriting to add new contacts in their Salesforce account. This cycle continued, every day, perpetuating my boredom.
A few fleeting moments of fun punctuated my first weeks. I visited Capitol Hill three times: first, for a hearing with the Appropriations Committee that would bring up one of DC’s local laws protecting women from being fired for their reproductive choices; second, I joined my mentor, Executive Director Kim Perry, to schedule a meeting to talk about a Republican representatives vote against a bill to protect reproductive rights. Finally, I accompanied a coworker to learn about DC and marijuana. All this out-of-the-office excitement just reinforced that my enthusiasm only emerged when I left the office grounds.
This began to change after meeting with the other six Karel fellows and staff for our first Learning Session. During that first session, I learned not only about stories, other media platforms, and communication, but about appreciation. I was complaining that I had to monitor DC Vote’s social media sites and add new contacts, labeling it busy work. Thankfully, Karel staffer Max set me straight with his experience. Max urged me to see “busy work” as essential to DC Vote’s success. I can see where my efforts fit into the big picture and am starting to enjoy adding articles onto our website’s news tab, thinking of ideas for our blog posts, and fiddling around with the social media websites I had initially predicted would be my doom. Who knew that reading mean Facebook comments would contribute to social justice?
Having cut my teeth on these communications tactics, this week, I was offered a big project from my mentor. I will be concentrating on my favorite focus of DC Vote—educating the public. . I will be providing resources to organizations and schools in Illinois and Wisconsin so that they can spread the word around their area and help us fight for DC equality. My first task is to write an “evergreen” article about DC’s fight for equality and what DC Vote is doing to secure full voting representation in Congress for District residents.
I do not have time for boredom and doom. I will be canvassing door-to-door to urge increase support and ask for donations. Yes, I might be cursed at but hopefully this doesn’t happen – and I’ve been trained well in case it does! Just yesterday, our team discussed plans for upcoming sit-ins at Mississippi House Representative Palazzo’s office. The team will be “sitting-in” from morning until closing time for the next few weeks. Even if we are kicked out, we’ll get some great publicity. I visited yesterday to check out Palazzo’s office. I innocently pretended to be lost to assess the space and judge that about 15 team members could fit. Mission accomplished. They suspected nothing. I knew having a baby face would be advantageous sometime in my future.
I am happy to announce that my “busy work” paid off quicker than I thought it would. Turns out, the many contacts I’ve been adding in Salesforce is how I will eventually conduct interviews with people in Illinois and Wisconsin for my project. It is also how I will rally up people willing to take a shift for our sit-ins these upcoming weeks. It’s time to put on my DC Vote battle shirt and be the rebel DC Vote needs me to be.