An Enduring Voice

December 2, 2014
We came together from different backgrounds and communities, different generations and experiences.  We represent very diverse cultures.  We came together in common purpose, not just to get out the vote but to lift up our neighborhoods. 
 
And that’s exactly what we did. Since June, I’ve managed the Wellstone Organizing Fellows program, training 33 organizers and supporting them as they joined nonprofit community organizations in Minnesota to turn out new voters. 
 
Those 33 organizers, in partnership with Minnesota Voice, recruited over 1,100 volunteers in the days leading up to November 4.  They called or knocked on the doors of nearly 100,000 Minnesotans, and talked with close to 20,000 potential voters from underrepresented communities. 
 
But it’s the stories behind the numbers that will have an enduring impact on our movement. For years, the Organizing Fellowship has been a program at the heart of what Wellstone’s all about.  This year we had more fellows and reached more communities than ever before.  
 
The work couldn’t be harder or more important. Too many of our communities are shut out, our very laws are rooted in a culture of disenfranchisement, and too many people are told their voices don’t matter.  
 
So for our organizers, success meant not just learning the hard skills of effective turnout strategies, but embracing patience and resiliency. It meant a willingness to take a blow, get back up, and keep fighting for a democracy where everyone’s in, no one’s out, no exceptions. 
 
The lessons they learned will continue to serve them. More important are the connections they built that will endure for many more elections, and challenges, to come. For our experienced organizers, the fresh ideas and positive energy of the new organizers inspired their continued commitment to the cause. And our newer organizers could lean on, and learn from, the deep experience of our organizers who’d done this work before.  We thrived from the support we recieved from each other.
 
At the election debrief, each Wellstone Organizing Fellow committed to an enduring role in the progressive movement. They’ll go on to run for office themselves, stay in their organizations to build long-term power in their communities, start new initiatives, and lead movements. And they’ll do it as part of the Wellstone family. 
 
We provided them a foundation to build power in their communities and to take their leadership to the next level. Now they will create enduring progressive power that’s rooted in a truly inclusive democracy.
 
Political cycles come and go, what endures are the people in the movement. Now, thanks to the Wellstone Organizing Fellowship, 33 emerging organizers connected with thousands of voters and gave voice to communities too often shut out of our democracy. Together we’re building permanent progressive power to win that future where “we all do better when we all do better”. 
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