January 3 Day of Action Organizing Toolkit

Whose House? Our House!

Have you heard the phrase “First 100 Days of Congress”? It refers to the period of time during which the new Congress will indicate their agenda priorities for the next two years and therefore the window that movements and special interests have to influence that agenda.

Because of the Blue Wave we built, and the work of many others across the progressive movement, this is a Democratic agenda. Democrats will use the first 100 days to communicate what they are for and what they will deliver if they fully take back power in 2020. And because of the power our movement has built, we’ve got an opportunity to influence that agenda.

So the first 100 days is the chance to set the tone with Congress AND (like always) a chance to keep building the strength of our groups. It’s about taking the momentum from the election—including all the folks you recruited to knock on doors and make phone calls—and bringing it with us into issue advocacy.

But that only works if we flex our movement muscle and make our voice loud and clear from the very beginning. That is why groups all over the country are showing up at district offices on January 3rd to say “Whose House? Our House!” We are here, we are paying attention, and we will hold you accountable for what you do—and by the way, in case you forgot, we are very powerful and we have a huge movement behind us.

We expect the first major legislative effort in a Democratically-controlled House to be a democracy reform effort (H.R. 1). This legislation is expected to strengthen everyone’s right to vote and to have their vote count, to stem the tide of big money in politics, and to root out corruption at all levels of government—including the White House. The election of Donald Trump (and the first two years of his administration) has brought into sharp focus the importance of preserving and protecting our democracy against blatant attempts to erode it. While Trump and his GOP enablers suppress the vote, profit off of corruption and attack essential democratic norms, Democrats now have an opportunity to change course. They must prioritize undoing that damage, and creating institutions in which we are all represented, included, and protected.

It is critical that we are loud, coordinated and powerful on January 3rd to make sure that this democracy package is as progressive as possible.

As always, Indivisible has you covered. In this toolkit, you will find a planning meeting agenda, sample roles, a press kit, and more to make your event as successful as possible. Because whose House? Our House!

H.R. 1: Strengthening Our Democracy

As you know far too well, the election of Donald Trump (and the first two years of his administration) has brought into sharp focus the importance of preserving and protecting our democracy against Republican attempts to erode it. While systematic problems with our democracy are longstanding, Trump and his GOP enablers have added a sickening layer of corruption, as they work to further suppress the vote, profit off of the Presidency, and attack essential democratic norms and the rule of law. Democrats have an opportunity to push back and to change course.

By holding coordinated Whose House? Our House! events around the country to kick off the new Congress, we are holding our elected officials accountable. They must prioritize undoing that damage, and creating institutions in which we are all represented, included, and protected.

Bill number 1 is usually reserved for the top legislative priority of the party in control of that chamber. In the last Congress, H.R. 1 was reserved for the GOP’s number one priority: the #GOPTaxScam, a massive handout to corporations and the wealthy.

We expect the first major legislative effort in a Democratically-controlled House to be a robust democracy reform bill (H.R. 1). We demand that Democrats pass the biggest, boldest, most progressive reform package without watering it down or breaking it up. We expect this package to include:

  • Voter empowerment and access. Through measures such as automatic voter registration, same-day registration, restoring the Voting Rights Act, protecting against improper purging of voter rolls, requiring states to upgrade and secure their election systems, restoring voting rights to those with past criminal convictions, providing adequate early voting opportunities, and preventing partisan gerrymandering through independent redistricting commissions, Democrats can ensure that everyone is included and represented in our democracy, and has unimpeded opportunities to participate.
  • Money in politics. A constitutional amendment is needed to overturn the chaos that Citizens United and related decisions unleashed into our campaign finance system. Congressional Democrats should start that amendment process immediately. Additionally, they can further stem the tide of big money in our politics by amplifying small-dollar donations through public financing, encouraging small-dollar donations through tax incentives, eliminating “dark money” by requiring disclosure of all political spending (including online ads), cutting off cooperation between candidates and super PACs, and empowering the Federal Election Commission to truly enforce campaign finance law.
  • Ethics and corruption. Trump and his cronies regularly engage in self-dealing, corruption, and conflicts of interest, without a single rebuke from the Republican-controlled Congress. The new Democratic majority must crack down by making sure that ethics rules apply to all government officials - including Trump. This means demanding disclosure of and divestment from his financial interests that pose conflicts of interest, and then for the rest of the executive branch locking the “revolving door” of lobbyists and government officials, prohibiting bribery, and demanding full disclosure of information revealing potential and actual conflicts of interest. In addition, this means Congress must reform itself too, by writing the Office of Congressional Ethics into law and stopping Members of Congress from serving on boards. Lastly, courts aren’t above the law either - a new code of ethics is needed for the Supreme Court.

Ask your Representative to publicly demand that H.R. 1 be a bold, progressive, comprehensive democracy package that includes reforms on voter empowerment and access, money in politics reforms, and corruption fixes.

Note: the situation is rapidly changing, and lots could happen between now and the start of the new Congress. Stay tuned for important updates and asks for your Representative!

Planning Meeting Agenda

January 3rd is rapidly approaching and we expect the first major legislative effort in a Democratically-controlled House to be a robust democracy reform bill (H.R. 1). Our job is to make sure that they pass the boldest, most progressive piece of legislation possible. That means a bill that centers voter empowerment and access, gets money out of politics, and addresses ethics and corruption in our elections.

This is our chance to flex our movement muscle and make our voice loud and clear from the very beginning of the new Congress. Because whose house? Our House! (That hasn’t gotten old yet.)

But that only works—we only get to demand the strongest bill—if we are loud, coordinated, and show our power. To build the most effective event possible, host a planning meeting with your group at least a few weeks before the event (pro-tip: send your media advisories to a few key reporters by Thursday, 12/20). This is your space to brainstorm, make decisions, assign roles, and prepare for your group’s event. Here is a sample agenda to get you started.

Welcome and Icebreakers: You just recruited a whole set of new activists this election cycle! Kick off the meeting by asking everyone to introduce themselves and answer a thoughtful question. For bonus points, connect the question to the action you are planning, like “If the Democrats pass one piece of legislation during their first 100 days, what should it be?”

Venue and logistics: This is the first choice-point for your group. The best place to hold your Whose House? Our House! event is outside of a district office (even freshmen should have their district offices set up by January). If you absolutely can’t hold it in front of a district office (we see you, Indivisibles in Alaska), host your event in a public space like a local part or a high traffic area in your community. Your event can be any time on January 3rd. Note that the one time of day that is not recommended would be 2pm-3pm. Local TV stations typically have a daily meeting at that time and it’s very difficult to get them to attend an event. (Learn more here.)

Map: Once you have the time and place, register your even with us! Registering helps us coordinate our national voice, recruit new activists for your events, and identify areas for growth.

Brainstorm and recruit speakers: Most effective events have 2-4 speakers with each speaker talking for 3-5 minutes. The theme for this event is democracy reform so brainstorm and recruit speakers who can speak to that theme. Is there a developing activist with a personal story about voting rights? Do you want to highlight an Indivisible member who worked hard to put your MoC in office? Is there an ally from a local democracy group that you can invite? Make a plan to invite and confirm your speakers.

Make a Recruitment Plan: This event is a strategic chance to grow your group and capture some of the excitement from the Blue Wave. We included a sample recruitment plan here, but start with deciding on a recruitment goal. How many new faces do you want at your event? How many seasoned activists? Having a goal will help you target your recruitment.

Sample Recruitment Plan

We build our national and local power by continually reaching out to new potential activists and developing them into Indivisible group members and leaders. Whose House? Our House! events are an excellent way to recruit new Indivisibles to your group. 

If you are rolling your eyes because, yes, we always say that, here’s why:

  1. Folks are energized by the recent election results. We built the Blue Wave protest by protest, door by door. And we proved that the Indivisible model works (just ask Rachel Maddow). People want to be involved in a smart, strategic organization. We just have to ask them.

  2. Whose House? Our House! events are low pressure enough for new activists (just stand here and hold a sign!) to get involved, while also feeling meaningful and powerful (because you are a badass holding that sign outside of a district office!).

  3. This is our first big, coordinated action of the new year. We are flexing our movement muscle, which means that you event will be backed up by lots and lots events around the country giving everyone the warm, powerful, and addicting feeling of being part of something bigger than themselves.

But in order to capitalize on all this amazingness, and turn this energy into real, live humans showing up at your event, you need a recruitment plan.

  • Start with setting a recruitment goal for your event. How many new faces do you want in the crowd? How many seasoned activists? Having a goal will help you target your recruitment.

  • Register your event with us! Once you upload your event, you will have a unique RSVP link. Post the link to you social media sites, direct message new activists, send it around to your listserv, and get it tattooed on your forehead. Your event will also be included in national recruitment emails leading up the the big day.

  • Hit the phones. Call each member of your local Indivisible group, and personally invite them to join you in this action. The personal touch can make all the difference. People will be more invested in coming when they know that you are invested in them showing up.

  • Map your networks. Ask your leaders to list out (on paper) 3-5 people who aren’t currently involved in Indivisible but who they think would enjoy the event. Think about members of your book club, your neighbors, or that coworker who is always posting memes about resisting Trump on Facebook. Then commit to making a personal ask to each of these people.

  • Make asks and assign roles. This is good organizing. Pro-tip: people will be more invested in events, and more likely to show up when they have a clear role. So ask some of your newer volunteers to take tasks. Maybe they can bring the hot chocolate? Or the hand warmers?
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Decide on Event Roles: This event is also a leadership development opportunity for your existing activists. Split up the work and encourage members to take on new challenges to build an effective event and an even stronger group. Here is a list of event roles.

Sample Event Roles

Whose House? Our House! events are about coordinating with groups around the country, flexing our national muscle, and influencing the Democratic agenda. You can’t do that by yourself. It is important to split up the work among your leadership team, or your best activist friends.

This is good organizing. People will be more invested in events, and more likely to show up when they have a clear role. So gather your top volunteers (and the activists you are developing into your top volunteers) and decide on roles and tasks. Here are some sample roles to get you started:

  • Media Liaison: Press outreach is most effectively handled by one person who can build relationships over time If you already have a media liaison, great! That’s your person! If not, this is a great time to develop one. Check out our press resources for this event.

    Scheduling note: Because the holidays will complicate reporters’ schedules, your media liaison should plan to begin to communicate with a couple of reporters before the holiday break. We recommend by Thursday, December 20. Please see our press resources for more.

  • Greeters: These are your friendliest folks who always know how to make someone feel comfortable. Give them a sign-in sheet and a clipboard and task them with signing in everyone at the event. Make a point to introduce them to any new faces and connect activists who haven’t met before.

  • Master of Ceremony (MC): Identify at least 1 group member to be responsible for firing up the crowd, introducing speakers, starting chants, and making sure the overall program is running on time. Need a good chant? “Whose House? Our House!”

  • Speakers: Recruit 2-4 people to speak at your event. This list should include at least one leader from your group, and one developing activist. Bonus points for building intentional partnerships with ally groups in your community and including a space for an ally from a democracy group.

  • Photographer/Videographer: Ask one person to take photos and one person to take video.

  • Social Media Coordinator: At least one person (could also be the photographer) should be tweeting out photos of the event in real time! Remember to always tag @IndivisibleGuide so we can uplift your work!

  • Art Director: Person in charge of supplies and crafts for posters, signs, and materials! This person writes the best protest signs and isn’t afraid of a little glitter.

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Reach out to local media: Press outreach is most effectively handled by one person who can build relationships over time. If you already have a media liaison, great! If not, this is a perfect event to choose a point person and start developing relationships with local press. 

Scheduling note: Because the holidays will complicate reporters’ schedules, your media liaison should plan to begin to communicate with a couple of reporters before the holiday break. We recommend by Thursday, December 20. Please see our sample press materials for more.

Prepare any props or setup needs: At the very least, you need a megaphone and a few signs with your demands (click here to order Whose House? Our House signs!). If it’s available to you, it is also helpful to have a podium, press packets, hot beverages or hand warmers (its January 3rd), and orange traffic cones to block off traffic.

Next Steps and Follow-up: Before you break for the night, make sure that all your activists are clear on their next steps. You made a lot of decisions at this meeting (Choice-points are good for group development!), so make sure there is a clear plan to get all the work done. Then you can start making posters and drinking hot cocoa.

Event Day Agenda

Eek! It’s January 3rd! Our new MoCs are being sworn into office and you, your group, and Indivisible groups all across the country are ready to make your voices heard (and not just because of all the chanting).

We know events can be hectic, so here is a sample agenda for the day to make sure that your event goes off without a hitch.

Before the Event

45 minutes before the event: Gather the people who have key roles (MC, speakers, etc.). Bring snacks and hot beverages, assemble any art pieces that need assembly, test any technology, and make reminder calls to everyone who signed up to attend. Huddle with the speakers and run through their talking points. Make sure our demands are clearly articulated in each speech, and that they know the order they will be speaking.

15 minutes before the event: Attendees show up. Huddle with all your activists (and new faces!) to remind them of the importance of these events. Even if you MoC is a strong progressive, even if she is the most Trumpian Trumpster, it is important that we speak with a national voice to influence the Democratic agenda. Explain the plan of action and get into position.

Distribute a sign-in sheet. There is power in knowing who your people are. It allows you to show your strength in concrete terms when talking with elected officials. You can identify potential leaders when you keep track of who comes to what type of events. Finally, you can understand the geographic identity of your group when you know where people live. For the January 3rd Day of Action, the Indivisible data team will load any sign-in sheets sent to your organizer into a volunteer management tool that will be rolled out for groups' use early in 2019. Download your official Indivisible sign-in sheet here.

Immediately before the event: the media liaison greets local press and gives reporters a press packet.

During the Event

Kick-off the event: The MC starts some chants (Whose House? Our House! Is a crowd-pleaser), and welcomes the crowd. She explains the purpose of the event and introduces the first speaker. We put together sample talking points here.

Sample MC Talking Points

Congratulations, you are the MC for your group’s Whose House? Our House! event! The MC’s job is to clearly articulate the purpose of the event. Don’t worry, the purpose is very simple: It is the first day of the new Congress and we are committed to holding our elected officials accountable to passing bold, progressive legislation over the next two years, starting with H.R.1. Add in a quick personal story about why you got involved with Indivisible, practice in front of a mirror or a friend a few times and you are good to go.

But if you want to add a bit more detail, we got you covered too. Here are sample talking points to kick off your event.

  • Start by introducing and credentialing yourself. Hi, my name is x and I am an activist with Indivisible. I got involved with Indivisible because I woke up on November 9th, 2016 and knew I had to do something to change the direction of this country. Over the last two years, we have taken action at our elected officials offices, organized our community, and knocked on so many doors this election cycle to build the Blue Wave. I am also constituent in this district.
  • Clearly state the purpose of the event. We are out here today because it is the first day of the 116th Congress. We are committed to holding our elected officials accountable to passing bold, progressive legislations over the next two years, and we are starting today with H.R. 1.

  • Explain the importance of the H.R.1. Bill number 1 is usually reserved for the top legislative priority of the party in control of that chamber. In the last Congress, H.R. 1 was reserved for the GOP’s number one priority: the #GOPTaxScam, a massive handout to corporations and the wealthy. We expect the first major legislative effort in a Democratically-controlled House to be a democracy reform bill. We demand that Democrats pass the biggest, boldest, most progressive reform package without watering it down or breaking it up.

  • Explain the importance of democracy reform. The election of Donald Trump (and the first two years of his administration) has brought into sharp focus the importance of preserving and protecting our democracy against blatant attempts to erode it. While Trump and his GOP enablers suppress the vote, profit off of corruption and attack essential democratic norms, Democrats now have an opportunity to change course. They must prioritize undoing that damage, and creating institutions in which we are all represented, included, and protected.

  • Explain what we mean by democracy reform. When we talk about democracy reform, we mean three big things: voter empowerment, getting money out of politics, and ethics and corruption. We are asking our Member of Congress to publicly demand that H.R. 1 be a bold, progressive, comprehensive democracy package that includes reforms on voter empowerment, money in politics, and corruption.

  • Introduce your speakers (if applicable): Now, to talk more about the importance of democracy reform, here is Benny Rodriguez from the Sandlot Center for Democracy Reform.
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Speakers: Each speaker talks for 3-5 minutes about the importance of holding our elected officials accountable and passing progressive democracy reform in HR-1. Some topics of conversation: getting money out of politics, ending gerrymandering, restoring voting rights.

Close: The MC closes the event by thanking everyone for coming, clearly reiterating our asks, and finishing out strong with some chants (Whose House? You get it.)

Ongoing: The Social Media Coordinator should record, live-tweet and/or Facebook-live the entire experience. You can tweet excerpts from speeches, pictures of the crowd, or gifs that perfectly express your emotions.

  • Make sure that you are recording and taking photos horizontally, not vertically. It really helps the video get shared and makes it usable for press.

  • Be sure to tag your MoC.

  • Be sure to tag @IndivisibleTeam and your regional Orgon Twitter.

  • Post photos of the action to your social media accounts!

After the Event

Immediately after the event: Send your stories, pictures, and best practices to stories@indivisible.org.

The night of the event: Email your attendees to thank them for a great action. Immediate follow up is important for recruitment and group longevity! Invite all attendees and activists to a debrief meeting. Of course we included a sample debrief because that is just the kind of people we are!

Debrief

Did you hear that? No, it wasn’t the wind. It was the sound of hundreds of Indivisibles letting out their collective breath. We did it! We held lots and lot of events around the country. We threw down for the boldest, and most progressive democracy reform package, and we showed our elected officials that we are here, we are powerful, and we are holding them accountable.

But the work isn’t over yet (it never is). As always, it is important to debrief all of our actions so that we are constantly learning from our work, and evolving into the most organized, most strategic, baddest organization around.

We will be hosting a debrief for group leaders in early January and we can’t wait to hear from all of you. In the meantime, schedule a debrief with your team. This should be an intentional space with everyone who had a role in the action. 

Here are some sample debrief questions:

  • What went well at this event? Why?

  • What didn’t go so well? What was the cause? You will get the best results if you approach this without assigning blame.

  • Were there any equity implications from how we approached this? Positive or negative?

  • What feedback do we want to highlight for our organizer? Positive or negative?

  • Overall, what should we do differently in the future?

  • What are our immediate next steps?

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What's Next?

C’mon, it's us. Of course we have your next national action ready to go. We are already gearing up for the February Recess of Action. This will be our movement’s chance to speak with our united national voice about the issues that are important to us. Democracy reform, immigration, healthcare, it is all on the table. Democrats have a chance to pass crucial messaging bills that tell the country where we stand. They also have power to investigate Trump and be a true check on the administration.

As the the recess gets closer, we will let you know the most strategic bills to push. That is our commitment to you. But we know that no matter what, our elected officials will not act unless we hold them accountable. Host or join an event this February recess to tell the new Congress that we stand Indivisible and we aren’t going anywhere.  

Here are the crucial details: