This is our moment to fight and to actually win something.
We start small and we build momentum and we do it quickly. We ask questions and gather stories. We build our power collectively and bring it into the State House. As always, the opposition is well funded and familiar and the only way we will win this fight is if we truly put poverty on trial here in Vermont.
Our stories are more powerful than we know. Living day-to-day is hard enough for anyone and Vermonters have families and obligations and hobbies. However, when our collective participation adds up, it makes a difference. On our own, our organizing can feel insignificant. That’s why Rights & Democracy exists: to create an overwhelming body of Vermonters acting together to bring our voice to our elected officials and make our stories known.
These small actions will lower the barrier of participation to the smallest thing: writing 250 words, speaking on camera, or talking to community members while buying groceries, pumping gas, and running errands.
Remember: together we win. This means that we do not do this work alone, we do as a team. This is a great opportunity to connect with friends or revitalize a group you’ve been a part of in the past.
Note: No role is permanent or silo’d—you can be all of these or just one—it can look different for you than it does for someone else, these are just options. Choose how you’d like to participate and own it.
First: ask yourself or your team some evaluative questions. You know your community best. Where are the local services? Where do people gather to support one another? Where are the low-wage workers you know employed and where do they live? Churches, grocery stores, food banks, community spaces, gas stations, etc. Who do you know personally? What stories do you hear in your day-to-day? What parts of town, streets etc, do you know are particularly affected by Vermont’s high cost of living?
Go to these places. Knock on doors and start conversations. Use this exercise as an excuse to reach out to an old acquaintance or start a new one. This survey is a tool to elicit stories and gain support. By the end of your conversation, you will know what ask to make of these people moving forward.
Conversations are not enough. We need people to take action. This means we’re going to have to ask them to. Here is a list of easier to harder asks to make once your survey is successfully complete:
Don’t be afraid to ask for stuff!
The smallest action can lead to more engagement down the road.
Remember that every story is powerful.
People connecting over the important issues is also powerful. A common response when being asked to participate is “who me?”. As organizers, we get to say “yes, you!”
Follow-up is 90% of organizing.
If you find someone who might be willing to do any of the larger asks, like recording a video testimony or meeting with a legislator, make sure to note that for follow-up!
Take Good Notes.
It’s rare that someone is willing to dive right into a monumental project like Raising the Wage. Most of the time, it takes a second or third contact with someone. If you feel like a person is about At the most, get people’s contact information. Take good notes, if possible.
Other helpful links:
Raise the Wage Letter to the editor (LTE) template
Family & Medical Leave Insurance LTE template
Raise the Wage Messaging Guide
Raise the Wage Talking Points
Family & Medical Leave Insurance Talking Points
Family & Medical Leave Insurance Fact Sheet
Raise the Wage Fact Sheet
Corporate Accountability Now! Fact Sheet