Activating the Active

We are at a moment of opportunity.

Opportunity 1:  the Historic Moment; and
Opportunity 2:  dozens of Registered Greens have filled out our online Active Membership forms.

Our task is to turn Signers of Active Membership Forms into Active Builders of the Green Party.

If we can actually do so, it will turn our current locals into effective bodies, and create possibilities of forming new locals and/or Organizing Committees.

A few general principles first.  People are in the Green Party for different reasons.  Putting it roughly, some are drawn by our support of or involvement in particular issues.  Others have a strategic commitment to the necessity of an anti-capitalist independent political party.  I suspect readers of this piece tend to fall into the latter group.  The first type may have a lot of energy, but tend to come and go with shifting tides, unless we can imbue them with strategic understanding of the long haul.

I fear that we have a tendency to operate as though we need to get out administrative house in order first, and then really start to “do politics.”  Wrong, wrong, wrong!  Administrative work is conceptually easier than “doing politics.”  While often boring and tedious, it can become a never-ending trap.  Without gut-grabbing issues, it may not be that attractive to newcomers.

For that matter, how do these factors impact your own motivation?  How did you first become an activist?

Still, we can’t ignore the mechanics.  Nasty step #1:  get our database in some kind of order.  LeBeau got us the list of Active Signers (noting which had checked the box for “Been in contact” or “Not been in contact”, and spliced that in with registered Greens in Pinellas, focusing on those whose forms or registrations had both phone #’s end e-mails.

We sent an introductory e-mail to each of the people who had filled out an Active Membership Form.  And then we called them.  “Hey, pleased to meetcha.  Are you interested in working with our local, we’ve done stuff around the Howie Hawkins campaign, homelessness and opposing gentrification.  Wanna get involved?”  Took special not of enthusiastic responders.

Note:  Receiving an e-mail or getting a phone call from us constitutes “Been in “contact.”  We do not treat those who hadn’t already checked the “Been in contact” checkbox on the form as some kind of “second class members.”  They sign a form, they are members, period.

We set to planning our meeting.  First we decided on a broad political direction for our agenda.  You should NEVER just get a bunch of folks in a “room” who don’t know each other and ask, “Hey, whatcha all want to do?”  Apart from getting to know each other, Hawkins, homelessness (we’ve done good work on that in the past), and the work of the GPFL Legislative Committee.

Below is a checklist we used for our latest Pinellas Local meeting (our second since the Covid crisis struck us.

Checklist for our latest Pinellas Local meeting:

1.Set Time and “Place” for meeting.
2.Put announcement on front page of Website or Facebook page.
3.Get spreadsheet of Registered Greens in your County.  Clean it up so that you can work with it.
4.Put together worksheet with:  Members, Registered Greens, e-mails, phone #’s
5.Draft meeting Agenda for invitations and phone raps
6.Draft letters:    Active Members, Registered Greens.
7.Prepare phone list.
8.Line up/recruit callers
9.Create worksheet with just names of Registered Greens and phone numbers.
10.Create list of just e-mails of all Registered Greens.
11.Create phone rap for Phone Team.  Include soliciting for signing Active Membership Forms.
12.Divvy up phone list for Phone Team.
13.Send out e-mails, have Phone Team start calls, with instructions to record responses.
14.Invited a few guests including LeBeau and Lizzie Adams to report on the Legislative Committee.
14.Plan details for the meeting.  Hold the meeting.
15.Input feedback from the phone work (including wrong #’s) onto the Master Spreadsheet.

(At a late date, we decided to augment our outreach with text messages.  We have reason to believe that text messages have a higher rate of return than either phone #’s or e-mails.  Each method got us SOME return.)

The point is to show the labor required to fully pull this off.  In this case, I did most of the organizing of this myself, with Rose to report on the Hawkins campaign.  It was doable.  Note that this checklist is “scalable.”  In other words, it may depend on how many phone #’s you have, how many callers you have, etc.

We’ve picked up a few new members, and our local is already stronger as a result.  An important principle to remember is that as a local increases in number of members, its effective strength increases exponentially.

Our task now is to figure out what to do with our new people.  We barely know them.  They generally don’t know each other.  In assigning phone calls for the meeting’s outreach, it gave us a read on which members may be most likely to take on more work.  Some people were active during the meeting.  We’ve been getting some people more concretely involved already.

What do we need, or want?  Can we have someone take on the Pinellas Media list left over from our previous Green New Deal work?  (Hint:  I would have to get that cleaned up and organized, and THEN find someone to hand it over to.  Media list?  For what?  Our own press releases?  The material coming out of the GPFL Legislative Committee?

What are people’s politics?  Priorities?  How to make use of people’s interests?

What should be the purpose of our next meeting?  Outreach to ALL the registered Greens we have phone #’s?  (My leaning is we focus on consolidation, then expand our outreach for the meeting after that.)  Should we be formulating concrete proposals?

And so it goes.