Thank Goodness for Them (And You)

Last year at this time we compiled a list of people and things that had the United States’s back in 2017. Keeping the tradition going, here’s our 2018 list of groups that helped Indivisible East Bay do our work, and that stood out for us as special heroes over the past crazy year. As we said last year: this list isn’t exhaustive- it’s not even close – but it’s a starting point.

Local Heroes

Though much of IEB’s work is done online (thanks, Slack!), we welcome the opportunity to join together IRL at meetings, actions, and events …  Since we’re not getting Koch $$ or Putin rubles, and our Soros-checks all bounced, we often rely on the kindness of local businesses and institutions. Big thank-yous to:

  • Sports Basement, Berkeley: for providing free meeting space at the coolest sports emporium in the Bay Area!
  • Cat Town, Oakland: for supporting democracy (and our phone banks!) while finding homes for kitties
  • Robinson House Consultants – especially Cassandra Benjamin, Oakland: for opening up their beautiful office space to IEB for our mega phone+text bank The Last Weekend Get Out The Vote efforts

Please patronize these terrific businesses, and tell them THANKS for helping IEB #resist!

Fellow Fighters: In the Election and in the Long Run

Some of these organizations were on last year’s list and some are new partners for us; some were formed just for the midterm elections, some we began working with during the midterm elections but they’ve been around since Current Occupant took office, and some address problems that predate 45. In the end, we decided to put all these organizations together, because – big picture – we’re all in the fight together.

  •  Black Voters Matter: As their website says, “effective voting allows a community to determine its own destiny.” IEB was proud to partner with BVM in text-banking at our GOTV efforts.
  • Democracy Action: Kudos for organizing so many resistance events, and gratitude for including ours on their list!
  • East Bay for TJ: The pundits said TJ Cox could never unseat David Valadao in CA-21. Our sources on the ground said differently. The race was initially called for Valadao but they’re still counting the ballots and the margin keeps narrowing.
  • Election Protection: ​This national, nonpartisan coalition, made up of more than 100 local, state and national partners, works year-round to advance and defend the right to vote.
  • Evolve CA: If you’ve attended IEB’s CA-11 team or All Member Meetings, you’ve heard about these local grassroots organizers who aim to reform Proposition 13. You’ll hear more from them!
  •  Flip the 14: Flip the 14 targeted – you guessed it – fourteen Congressional districts in the 2018 midterms. From their website: “Flip the 14 is working to strengthen the work of the Resistance throughout California.”
  • Indivisible Northern Nevada: A mighty force, they involved IEB in their Issue Voters Project, which helped make Nevada part of the Blue Wave.
  • Postcards to Voters: An online resource allowing activists to send handwritten reminders to targeted voters giving Democrats a winning edge in close, key races coast to coast. Prepare to be boggled: over 59,000 volunteers, in every state, and close to 4 million postcards to voters in over 130 key, close elections.
  • Resistance Labs: Making our list for the second year, this organization created by Oaklanders recruits virtual activists fighting the worst of Donald Trump’s agenda.
  • Vote Forward: They helped flip the House by sending letters – actual snail mail! – to unlikely voters.

All of You and Everything You’ve Done

We said it last year, and it’s more true than ever this year:

We are thankful for every phone call, every postcard, every difficult conversation with a loved one, every protest, every sign, every idea, every atom of energy you gave to our resistance this year. Despite how difficult it’s been, despite the psychic and social horror of it all, we have won far more often than we have lost. Our successes and our continued defense of the United States is down to you, your families, and your communities. Sincerely and with the deepest hope for our next year: thank you.

Graphic of ASL sign for “I love you” by John Hain

GOTV workshop offers basic training for recruits

Deadline: today and every day until November 6 –

Our simple goal: encourage and train more people to get involved in phone banking and canvassing — especially critical as we shift to the final GOTV (Get Out The Vote) phase for the less-than-a-month-away midterm elections.

The problem? Many people are reluctant to volunteer for fear they don’t have the needed skills or knowledge.

The solution: offer a GOTV workshop to provide skills, practice, and motivation. So that’s exactly what Indivisible East Bay did — with generous assistance (and a free lunch and amazing snacks!) from Indivisible National — on October 14 at the El Cerrito Community Center. Without much time to plan and promote we were a tad nervous, but the well-oiled IEB machine went into high gear, the stars aligned and, other than the usual tech hiccups, by the time the event began all was well and the more than 50 attendees were ready for action!

Roll call

As we took our seats after lunch, Indivisible’s California State Director Zacharie Boisvert (the day’s moderator) got the ball rolling with an ice-breaker. At each table we all took a few minutes to say why the upcoming election was important to us. One person from every table later repeated their answer to the group, which effectively summarized how high the stakes are for the midterms, and got us all motivated to take to the streets … and phones.

Zacharie & Bobby (Indivisible National) and Nancy (IEB). Photo by Ted Landau
Zacharie & Bobby (Indivisible National) and Nancy (IEB). Photo by Ted Landau

Next up, Indivisible’s National Organizing Director Susannah Hook-Rodgers asked: “Let’s assume we win at least one house of Congress in November; what do we do next? What should be our highest priorities?” We had no trouble shouting out a long list of answers. At the top was protecting voting rights since everything else we hope to accomplish is in danger unless we ensure that all eligible citizens can exercise their right to vote. Other priorities: climate change, racial and economic inequality, preventing GOP efforts to dismantle government agencies, and campaign reform to limit dark money. We also agreed that we need to make Indivisible more inclusive — and National has to take the lead here by continuing to build ties with major groups around common interests.

All hands to battle stations

Which got us revved up for the main event: GOTV actions.

It’s called GOTV because during these final weeks before the election we pivot from trying to persuade undecided voters to making sure that likely supporters get out and vote! As for how best to accomplish this, the presentation showed that one-on-one interactions, canvassing and phone-banking, are much more effective than other voter contacts.

Zacharie and Indivisible National co-presenter Bobby Michaels went over a typical phone-banking script and explained how the precise language helps elicit a positive response. In fielding our questions about potential problems, the duo addressed many of our common concerns. For example, in response to the question “What if a respondent wants to know about a candidate’s positions and I’m not sure what they are,” Zacharie emphasized that we didn’t have to know everything and could refer people to a candidate’s website. He also reminded us that GOTV is focused on getting people to vote rather than discussing the issues. IEB’s outreach team co-lead Toni, who has been organizing phone banks into Nevada, noted that she always checks online for specifics about a candidate or district before making calls.

Finally, time for hands-on action! As a dry run we role-played phone calls in pairs — and then the real thing: an hour of live phone-banking to voters in CA-10. As usual with phone banks we ran into a lot of no-answers and disconnected phone numbers, the latter helps clean up the list. Most of us had a few great conversations with voters, and that’s what keeps us going!

gotv training 001 20181014_154956b 640

Next, Kook Huber of Team Blue Wave Contra Costa made a convincing plea for volunteers to canvass in the “very flippable” CA-21. Her inspiring presentation segued into our final request for everyone to sign up for canvassing and phone-banking opportunities in the (now only three) weeks ahead. Attendees left charged up and inspired about the critical importance of canvassing and phone banking, and about their own ability to join in — we were all ready to GOTV!

What to do if you missed the workshop

Couldn’t join us for the training? Don’t fret – you still can (and must!) join the GOTV effort. We list dozens of upcoming opportunities to canvass and phone bank on our calendar, and they all include mini-training sessions with experienced members who are ready to help you.

Canvassing: a win-win for you and the candidates

By Ted Lam

I confess. I’m obsessed with following the forecasts for the November 6 midterm elections. For the past several months I’ve been regularly checking FiveThirtyEight’s “2018 House Forecast” and “Who Is Winning the Race for Congress” poll results — sometimes as often as two or three times a minute just to make sure I have the latest results. If I wake up in the middle of the night, I immediately reach for my phone to check the latest news and FiveThirtyEight.com’s forecasts.

Why do I do this? Because the outcome is so consequential. When November 7 arrives, the last thing I want is to have that sinking feeling I had in 2016. But I also realize that just checking the latest forecasts, no matter how often I do it, is not enough. I need to do something more. Every day I wonder how I can best make a difference between now and November 6 — something that may help me sleep a little better at night. For me, the answer is: canvassing.

That’s why I’ve registered to canvass on October 6 in Sanger in support of TJ Cox, running for Congress in District 21. TJ is a charismatic and progressive Democrat running against incumbent Republican David Valadao.

Last March, I joined a few other IEB’ers on a weekend trip to canvass for TJ in Mendota. It was an enriching experience. During our initial training, TJ himself showed up to give us a pep talk. When we finally set out to canvass we were joined by close to 30 volunteers, mostly from the Bay Area. 

Most Mendota residents work in the local agricultural industry. It’s a close-knit community that cares very much about family. As I walked around with my canvassing partner Rae, we were struck by how warm and friendly everyone was. We also noticed that many of garages were open, being cleaned and decorated with balloons. From making small talk, we learned that these parents were using the garages to host birthday parties for their children.

On the canvassing trail, we knocked on doors to verify who lived there. We read the script from our smartphones. After being initially reluctant (and possibly suspicious), the residents opened up to us. Most didn’t know who TJ Cox was. After we explained his positions, the vast majority expressed willingness to vote for him.

My memories of that weekend in Mendota are images of shy smiles from the very old to the very young, an invitation from a family to come back to enjoy homemade tamales during the Festival of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and of people who work hard and want opportunities for their children. These are good memories of a successful week-end of canvassing.

Join me on October 6 in Sanger and you can have that same positive experience while helping get a worthy progressive elected. Want to carpool? Email  me at indivisibleca11@gmail.com. I’m known for finding good food wherever I travel so you can look forward to a delicious lunch experience on Sunday, like this excellent Mexican restaurant we discovered in Mendota. 

Canvassing in Mendota

Canvassing and phone banking are the top two most effective ways to contact voters and make the Blue Wave happen. We need your help! What you can do:

  • Find IEB phone banks and canvassing trips and sign up at out our new “Volunteer to Flip the G-D- Congress” list & calendar. Also easily accessible on our home page
  • Sign up to get our weekly list of phone banks and canvassing trips
  • Learn the who, what, and why of canvassing and phone banking at our September 30 All Member Meeting at Sports Basement, Berkeley, from 1-3 PM. Hear from experts and sign up to help. We’ll also have demonstrations to demystify and show you how! Come, bring friends and spread the word. RSVP and details here.
  • Check out opportunities to canvass, phone or text bank, write postcards, and more, with these great organizations IEB works in coalition with: 
  • Join Indivisible Berkeley in phoning Nevada voters from home to help flip the critical NV Senate seat. Info & sign up here. Check out other IB events too.
  • See the East Bay for TJ Cox events calendar to support the CA-21 congressional candidate.
  • Canvass in CA-21 with Swing Left East Bay. Check upcoming events and sign up here.
  • Knock on doors to help flip CA-10 for Josh Harder. Info & sign up here.
  • Swing Left Contra Costa hosts monthly voter registration in Tracy (CA-10) on the 3rd Saturday of each month. Check their event calendar.
  • Canvass with Working America AFL-CIO in CA-10 (Modesto) and CA-21 (San Joaquin Valley). You’ll get excellent training and can then sign up for volunteer shifts.
  • Can’t canvass yourself? Donate to support one of the great groups listed above. You can even sponsor a canvasser in CA-21 by donating to Valley Forward, which helps employ people living in the district.

Ted Lam is retired from the USCG and currently works as a civil engineer.