It starts with states.
Sister District specializes in year-round civic engagement with a laser-like focus on state legislative races. Our 2019-2020 strategy focuses on states where the state legislature controls redistricting so that we can maximize our impact ahead of redistricting in 2021.
In the meantime, there is still work to do.
One of the key items in our Winter Action Guide is around establishing/solidifying leadership roles and structures for 2020. It’s early yet, but many of you have hosted or are about to host debrief and planning meetings! We know you have eager volunteers you need to keep engaged—thank you for your creativity and resilience in making this a robust year-round organization.
By way of surfacing examples and ideas between teams, we thought we’d share illustrations from Sister District Sacramento and Sister District Fairfield County, and would love to hear from you! If you can you share a similar illustration of how your team is taking shape for 2020, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Fairfield County’s 2020 Planning Meeting
HQL Sister District Fairfield County
The three HQLs of Sister District Fairfield County – myself, along with Jodie Nevas and Susan Singer – called a leadership meeting for Monday, November 11 with the goal of refining our leadership structure for our ever-expanding group to become more specialized, efficient, and effective. We wanted to capture some of the energy we gained from affiliate groups and active members on the heels of the Virginia success to see if we can elevate their involvement by creating a leadership team and targeted action committees.
We advertised the meeting on our Sister District Fairfield County FB page, on three affiliate FB pages, and in our newsletter. We were absolutely thrilled to have around twenty activists show up! About half of our attendees turned out to be first-timers and from affiliates groups. As such, we deviated from our original agenda a little bit to provide the group with more background about what Sister District is. We had originally scheduled a FaceTime with Neal to troubleshoot if we needed more leaders to facilitate small break-out groups, but instead we used the FaceTime to show newcomers how helpful and accessible headquarters is. We believe this instilled confidence in new members and pride in established members.
“Every single attendee signed up to be on at least one committee”
We shared this document, and used a slideshow to outline what we intend to be our structural organization and leadership roles. Throughout the presentation, seasoned members would affirm best practices and suggest improvements. Affiliates would offer ways to cross-populate each other’s initiatives. And newcomers asked clarifying and logistical questions. At the end of our pitch for committee creation, we were pleasantly surprised that every single attendee signed up to be on at least one committee. The only change to the meeting structure I would recommend is for the leaders to talk a little less and to allow the group to spend more time organized in the new committees to brainstorm. I think the attendees had to sit and listen for too long. But even still, we all left re-charged and fired up for 2020.
We followed up with all attendees (and new co-leaders!) with this email. Susan, Jodie and I met on November 19th with two of the attendees who are long-time active, now elevated members to divvy up committee oversight. Both members agreed to become District Captains, as did an affiliate who will now have a direct line to HQ for SD initiatives with her highly organized group.
In addition to forming specialized committees and setting up leadership roles, we are working on three initiatives to keep the group active between now and Spring.
- We will work on census education and census participation in our local area and possibly in PA in anticipation of our 2020 candidate assignment. Sister District is represented on the Complete Count Committee of a low-participation city in our congressional district (Bridgeport). We are collaborating with other activist groups to create a social media campaign with local community influencers to spread the word that the census is safe, easy, and important. Through these efforts, we can simultaneously emphasize the importance of state legislative races in redistricting. We believe this emphasis will educate our community about the importance of Sister District’s mission. This local effort will also help our reputation in our district in that DTCs will see how Sister District is contributing instead of draining blue energy.
- Our second plan to stay active and build affiliate networks is to share the SDAN research outcomes with DTCs and local candidates for that solidary purpose. We were encouraged to adopt this practice after a local RTM (Representative Town Meeting) member messaged our group saying she applied SDAN research we provided to help with her successful 2019 re-election bid.
- Our third plan is to work on voter registration in PA to establish our sister ties with this state. We plan to partner with an affiliate group in this endeavor. About two-thirds of SDCT04’s participation comes from affiliate groups, and so we place a lot of emphasis on building those relationships and supporting each other’s missions.
One other proposal we haven’t discussed in detail is trying to recruit more men to join SDCT04. Over ninety-five percent of our active members are women. We will soon discuss whether to form a campaign to recruit Misters to join the Sisters.
Instead of feeling worn out from the work we did for Virginia’s 2019 election, these meetings inspired us to work even harder and become even more effective in 2020.
The infusion of new leadership and fresh ideas has also been very motivating. It has been so heartening to watch SDCT04 grow and to see the return on the investment of our time and energy. We feel very optimistic that SDCT04 will be stronger and better in 2020.
Sacramento Planning Team Year-End Meeting
HQL Sister District Sacramento
SDP Sacramento was formed in 2017 and covers all of Sacramento County (a geographically large county with 1.5 million residents). We have 384 volunteers on our email list.
We formed a Planning Team at the beginning of 2019. The purpose of the group is to plan for events (monthly meetings, fundraising, postcarding, textbanking, and phonebanking.) Based on our experience as a new team in 2019, we met on Nov. 10 to discuss what worked, where we could make improvements and how we would be structured in 2020. There are 10 members on the team. In 2019, we had one “official” committee for fundraising. Otherwise, we collaborated and met on an ad-hoc/as-needed basis.
Prior to the meeting, Planning Team members replied via email about what worked and improvements needed. The responses were sorted into the categories below and “Decisions/Assignments” was added.
The group reviewed the document at the meeting. Before our discussion of the document, we had a meeting with Neal Morgan via Zoom. After that, the group continued the discussion and agreed on assignments.
The group made the following decisions:
- Every member of the Planning Team must be on a committee.
- We established committees for all the categories above except “Administration.”
- We decided who the leads and members of each committee would be.
- We will try to get additional volunteers for our committees, but those volunteers will not be on the Planning Team. We didn’t want the Planning Team to be unwieldy.
- Committees can reach out for assistance to the Planning Team.
The committees will be meeting in-person or by phone in the next month. We recognized that some committees will not have to ramp up as fast as others. The Planning Team will meet again at the beginning of 2020.
We will have one overarching District Captain. All Planning Team members will be designated as District Captains and HQLs, added to Slack and invited to join the SDP District Captain Facebook page. These designations provide our Planning Team members with access to critical information and SDP Staff.
- The Sister District Sacramento Review document worked well. We received a lot of thoughtful input from our team members. However, input should have been collected earlier and the document distributed to team members prior to the meeting for review.
- Having Neal join us via Zoom (so people could see him and vice versa) was excellent. Most members had not met Neal before. Team members asked questions and received responses on a variety of topics. Neal also offered to work directly with the leads for several of our committees. This discussion energized our team and really made them feel they are valued members of the Sister District family.
- Having this year-end meeting was valuable to let everyone share experiences from 2019 and to ramp up the energy for 2020.