Neighbors In Action Training Program
The California 49th Congressional District is one of the most contested swing seats in the nation, with the Democratic challenger losing by less than 1630 votes in 2016, and the Democratic presidential candidate winning the district for the first time in recent history. In this context, Flip the 49th! Neighbors in Action is supporting a comprehensive community, political, leadership and organizing program that will build the infrastructure to Flip the 49th and strengthen the growing progressive movement across North County San Diego.
The program advances five core objectives:
- Increase voter turnout among infrequent progressive and liberal voters;
- Engage potential “swing voters”, particularly those who opposed Trump but supported Issa in 2016;
- Expand voter registration, especially among young people and Latinos;
- Strengthen sustainable progressive community activist organizing capacity;
- Generate ongoing high-profile and high-impact grassroots protests, advocacy efforts, and other types of public engagement by community members on key progressive issues.
To achieve the above objectives, this program focuses on delivering the following goals and metrics:
- Empowering new leaders: Training ‘Neighborhood Leaders’ to lead community organizing efforts in their neighborhoods (program design detailed in subsequent section), and recruiting ‘new activists’ to attend rallies/protests, phonebank/canvass, and participate in community groups;
- Engaging infrequent voters, swing voters, and reliably progressive voters: Pursuing both initial/first-time ‘new voter contacts’ to maximize reach, as well as engaging in ongoing ‘repeat conversations’ with voters to deepen engagement;
- Increasing voter participation by registering new voters;
- Building sustainable organizing capacity: Training activist groups of the 49th District Action Council in organizing skills (detailed below);
- Mobilizing community participation in high-profile issue-focused actions and generating media coverage: activities include protests, rallies, letter writing, postcard writing, letters to the editor, OpEds, flash mobs, and other grassroots pressure for accountability.
The Neighbors in Action Community Organizing Program is focusing the extraordinary new outpouring of grassroots activism to train and deploy volunteers as a cadre of coordinated local Neighborhood Leaders to engage in hyper-local, data-driven, sustained community organizing over the next 18 months. Each Neighborhood Leader is assigned a list of 100 households in his/her neighborhood. Neighborhood Leaders are encouraged to tailor messaging to effectively engage with different universes of voters. We are creating sample scripts to use as a starting point, but are focusing on training volunteers to genuinely listen, to develop their own scripts, and to enter voter data based on loosely structured conversations. Successful Neighborhood Leaders will be progressively assigned additional lists (up to a total of 300 households per NL).
Community organizing activities include door-to-door canvassing, house parties, tabling at local events and markets, neighbor-to-neighbor coffees, and phone calls. Neighborhood Leaders engage in issue-based conversations, with the related goals of: (1) building relationships and listening to voters’ concerns; (2) educating voters on key issues and candidates; (3) getting people to take action (write a postcard, come to protest, etc.); (4) recruiting new activists; (5) encouraging election turnout; (6) promoting voter registration; and (7) gathering and tracking voter data—including changes in address, new email/phone and other contact information, and voters’ expressed candidate preferences and issue positions. The Community Organizing operation is structured through two complementary modalities: (a) community groups (e.g., Indivisible groups, Democratic Party clubs, and other group members of the nonpartisan 49th Action Council) that want to run a community organizing program, and (b) unaffiliated “off-the-street” volunteers for the ‘Flip the 49th Neighbors in Action’ community organizing program.
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