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No Excuses: Recovery Recess

No Excuses: Real Recovery Now. Our families, our economy, and our democracy are in crisis. This Recovery Recess, we will show up together to demand Congress go bold and go big, no excuses, and no exceptions. It’s time for Congress to urgently deliver jobs, care, justice, climate solutions, respecting indigenous tribal sovereignty, and real democracy for all of our people.

During February Recess Indivisibles made a huge impact. Indivisibles met with key Senators, had virtual Letter to the Editor writing parties, dropped off Valentines for their Senators and overall got really creative. We’ve already seen the impact that this recess had with firm commitments to overturn the filibuster from Senators Padilla, Klobuchar, and Smith and renewed pushes by Indivisibles on some key holdouts like Senator Sinema.

Let’s keep it up for the next recess: March 29 - April 9th. We have to sustain and escalate that pressure to make sure MoCs who committed to be Democracy Defenders maintain their commitment and that we keep pushing those who are faltering. HR1/S1 prevents voter suppression through automatic voter registration, same-day registration, fights racial and partisan gerrymandering at all levels of government and institutes public funding for elections to reduce the power of corporate money in government.

This recess we’re adding in a focus on bold recovery. The American Rescue Plan just passed but we know that the work is not done. We need Congress to immediately pivot to bold recovery based on the THRIVE Agenda, followed by Democracy Reform. Our vision is to use this moment to radically reshape our economy with a plan to create dignified jobs for millions of unemployed workers and support a better life for the millions more who remain vulnerable in this pivotal moment. This recess, we’ll be pushing our MoCs to support the THRIVE Agenda, and Democracy.

This toolkit includes all the basics to get started with your planning. You’ll find here our key asks, strategy and step by step support for planning your events. This time around we’ll be working with several partner organizations, such as Sierra Club, SEIU, Indigenous Environmental Network, and MoveOn, and will be collaborating on a number of things, including our tools. So, once you finalize your event, make sure to register it on the MoveOn map. Your Indivisible Organizer will be on hand to support you with your preparations -- or reach out to supportteam@indivisible.org if you don’t know your Organizer.

Our Asks

This recess our ask is focused around Democracy Reform and recovery (specifically the THRIVE Agenda). With a Democratic Trifecta we have the opportunity to tackle this all head on. We’re asking MOcs to:

  • Prioritize bold, sweeping democracy reform including S1 (formerly known as HR1) and DC Statehood and don’t let anything get in the way (ie* the filibuster).
  • Demand the boldest recovery possible following the THRIVE Agenda -- which acknowledges that we are not just facing one crisis with COVID, but the intersecting crises of catastrophic climate change, public health and income inequality.

Below are some handy videos we’ve created to help you get acclimated to the policies, and to share with your groups, friends and family:

Tactics

If you took action over February Recess, this is an important opportunity to build on that success and develop your escalation plan. If you’re just diving in for the first time over this upcoming March Recovery Recess, this is still a great time to get started. The specific tactics you employ will likely depend based on what your group (and other groups in your state) has already done and how your MoCs have been responding so far.

These tactics may include:

  • Attending or planning (virtual) town halls. You can find existing town halls here. You can also find best practices for hosting a virtual town hall here.
  • Small district office visits or district office drop-offs of letters, or artwork. If you’ve ordered a 51-star flag from us, this is the perfect opportunity to deliver them and drive home the importance of D.C. Statehood. Get creative about what would drive home your message with your MOC (and make sure to get a picture!).
  • Planning (virtual) Letter to the Editor writing parties
  • Public education tactics such as hosting community town halls or your fellow constituents to inform them about the THRIVE Agenda and ask them to call their MOC’s.
  • ‘Call relays’ where you get as many people as possible in 5-10 minute increments to flood your MOC’s office on a particular day, at a specified time, and over a designated number of hours (or days).
  • “Twitterstorms”, with enough people (try to get your entire county or state involved!) can be a great way to garner the attention of your MOC. It’s an easy process! You can simply use this link to tweet at your MOC about this Recovery Recess, and this link to tweet about D.C. Statehood.
  • Record Soapboxx videos! This is a great way to amplify your message and it’s easy to do. Record a video, by using the following links, demanding your MoCs support the THRIVE Agenda and prioritize democracy reforms, and ask your friends and family to record their own videos, too!
  • Be creative! Some groups have done amazing, impactful things such as projecting messages on the sides of community buildings and car rallies (when it’s safe). Think about what would both educate your community and get the attention of your MOC’s.

Strategy

We are approaching recess just a little bit differently this time around. We have three separate but complementary strategies to move these crucial pieces of legislation over the finish line: 1) direct pressure on key Senators and 2) educating our communities about these important issues, namely the THRIVE Agenda (recovery) and Democracy (3) building a national narrative for action. We are asking you to take specific actions based on your state.

Direct Action

There are eight Senators who could use a bit of extra pressure from their constituents to support our asks. Your goal is to get them on the record supporting our asks.

Our key Senators for D.C. Statehood and the filibuster are:

  • Sen. Joe Manchin (WV)
  • Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (AZ)
  • Sen. Mark Kelly (AZ)
  • Sen. Angus King (ME)

Our key Senators for the THRIVE Agenda (in addition to the ones above) are:

  • Sen. Bob Casey (PA)
  • Sen. John Hickenlooper (CO)
  • Sen. Martin Heinrich (NM)--should be a champion!
  • Sen. Stabenow (MI)

For these key Senators, the most impactful thing you can do is host a virtual town hall or lobby meeting with your Senator (or their staff if you can’t pin your Senator down to a time this recess). This will give you the opportunity to directly address your Senator, explain your position, and give them a chance to commit to building a truly inclusive democracy.

This is no small feat. And most likely, your Senator will not commit to too many town halls or lobby meetings during March recess. Your best bet is to join forces with other Indivisible groups in your state for one powerful event. Here are some tips and tricks for hosting a virtual town hall meeting.

Important Note: If you are in a priority state, there is a good chance your organizer and other Indivisible groups are hard at work on a town hall or a lobby meeting. Before you go any further, please reach out to your Indivisible organizer to connect! If you don’t know your organizer, you can fill out this Ask an Organizer form or reach out to supportteam@indivisible.org.

Education

We gain our power in our communities. To build the world we want, we need to educate and empower our neighbors, friends, and co-workers to take action with us. So, as you are planning your event, be sure to include a call to action where you ask people to reach out to their MOC’s office or write their own letter to the editor.

Here are some tactics that are effective when trying to inform and mobilize your community:

  • You can host a town hall with your MOC, or a member of their staff, where people have the opportunity to learn about the THRIVE Agenda and inclusive democracy reform and ask questions directly to their representative. If your MOC can’t join you for an event - have the town hall anyway! Invite a subject-matter expert or local community leader to speak and field questions.
  • You can host a virtual LTE (letter to the editor) party. Telling your community, in your own words, why the THRIVE Agenda and inclusive democracy reform are important not only to you personally, but to them, is a powerful way to inform and engage (don’t forget the call to action!).

Remember, there is power in numbers. The more people we get involved, the more influence we will have to push forward important legislation that impacts each of our daily lives.

National Narrative

The remaining Senators are either already with us or already against us. So we need to build a national narrative in the media that motivates our supportive MoCs and quiets our opposition. Like all effective narratives, this starts at the local level. Your mission is to generate earned media in support of our asks.

Earned media is the most important and strategic way to push MoCs on our priorities (remember, the first thing they do each day is read the news about them). The best way to get earned media is through a small district office visit with a 51 star flag, a large handmade poster, or a car rally. The media loves a visual.

If you want to do something virtual, the most effective event you can set up is a virtual Letter to the Editor writing party.

Whether you have the most progressive or the most conservative MoC, creating national momentum around Democracy Reform will help move our priorities forward.

The THRIVE Agenda

The THRIVE Agenda is a framework for our recovery that acknowledges that we are not just facing one crisis with COVID-19, but the intersecting crises of catastrophic climate change, racial injustice, public health, and economic inequality. Our vision is to use this moment to radically reshape our economy by grounding it in climate, jobs, and justice.

The THRIVE Resolution outlines eight key frameworks that any COVID recovery package must work towards. They include:

  • Create millions of good, safe jobs.
  • Build worker power to fight inequality.
  • Invest in Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities to counteract racial and gender injustice and build the power that they deserve.
  • Strengthen and heal the nation to nation relationship with Indigenous nations.
  • Combat environmental injustice and ensure healthy lives for all.
  • Avert climate and environmental catastrophe.
  • Ensure fairness for working people and communities, particularly in industries and regions in economic transition or crisis due to COVID-19, climate change, and other economic shocks and shifts.
  • Reinvest in the public sector and establish public institutions to get the job done.

Check out this video from The Green New Deal Network for more on this vision You can also check out this one pager for more information.

To learn more about how THRIVE Agenda meets these needs and ushers in a new era for American workers, join us for one of the sessions below. And, leave equipped to talk to anyone about THRIVE and why we must rise to this occasion and support this agenda. You can find the dates, times, and registration information below:

Democracy Reform

Our democracy has been rigged from the very beginning to benefit rich, white men. HR 1, HR 4, and the DC Statehood bill would work to undo many of the racist legacies of our founding institutions. And, the filibuster is a Jim-Crow era relic that was popularized by conservative senators primarily to block civil rights legislation, including the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. To this day, the filibuster favors the preservation of the status quo instead of change, making any structural reform -- like Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, or any racial justice reform -- next to impossible to accomplish. Now is the time to stand up and fight for these issues that are going to affect many generations to come.

Hosting a Virtual Event

During this period of physical distancing, we’ve all been learning that most events or actions that occur in person can in some way be adapted to online. While we may lose some elements of in person events by bringing them online, there are some we gain too - like making events more convenient and accessible for some folks to join.

We have developed some resources to support groups with hosting virtual events. You can see our Hosting Virtual Events resource for some creative ideas and best practices. Additionally, we have a few guides for new hosts or attendees on Google Hangouts and Zoom that you can see below:

For larger scale virtual events, it’s really important that you take the time to make sure you understand the technology you’re using, clearly communicate expectations/directions to attendees and speakers and do a run through before. We’ve baked some of these important steps into our event planning step by step in this resource.

Adding a virtual event to this campaign helps include people with disabilities. Planning these events are an opportunity for folks with disabilities to lead or show up when they might otherwise be excluded because of lack of accessibility. When we host an event, especially when people with disabilities have ownership in the planning process, we can make sure to address the needs of folks across the disability spectrum and include people who might not be able to take action.

When you’re setting up your event, here are some accessibility recommendations to think through. Please reach out to your organizer or to supportteam@indivisible.org with questions.

  • Closed captioning will make your event accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. There are services that will caption your live event which you can use distributed fundraising funds for.
  • You could also include an ASL interpreter, which could be a good choice for a larger virtual rally.
  • Follow these tips to make slide decks, powerpoints, and other handouts readable for all of your participants:
    • If you have multiple handouts, consider creating a QR code with links to all materials at the beginning of the presentations
    • Create a view-only or PDF copy of your materials and email them to your attendees 24 hours before your event
    • Use one of the Google Slides and Powerpoint pre-set accessible slide layouts, there are collections for each
    • Use sans serif fonts like Arial or Helvetica
    • Use bold for emphasis, avoid italics and underlines
    • Do not rely on color to tell the story. Enhance with labels, icons or other visual markers
    • Avoid text-heavy slides, transitions, animations and GIFs
    • Use high color contrasts, like white and blue

If you’re new to hosting virtual events, check in with your Indivisible Organizer or supportteam@indivisible.org and we’ll be able to help talk you through it and provide more resources.

Planning a Virtual Town Hall or Lobby Meeting

You can also find more tips and resources for hosting a virtual town hall here.

Planning Your Event

While there are some key differences between planning an in-person event and a virtual event, don’t forget you still need to put plenty of time into planning. You may not need to deal with some of the logistics like booking a venue or arranging chairs, but there are some important additional steps when planning a virtual event.

Consider the scale of your event. There is a lot on everyone’s minds right now and individual groups are assessing their capacity. Before diving into an event, spend some time thinking about what makes sense for your group -- a big scale event, medium, something small? It’s also important to consider what you think will be more effective with your particular Senator. Are they someone who already needs a lot of public pressure at a town hall or do you want to start with a more intimate event?

Coordinate with other local Indivisible groups and other progressive groups. This is also a good opportunity to join forces with other groups in the area and strengthen regional coordination. This will make it more likely that your MoC will say yes to, will help distribute the work and will improve your regional coordinating ties.

Invite your Senator. Start reaching out to your Member of Congress as soon as possible! Their schedules fill up quickly, so sooner is better. Plus, if they say no the first time you can keep up escalating pressure until you can get a commitment.

Pick your platform. Based on the scale/scope of your event and what your group is accustomed to using, you can determine your platform. Check out some of the resources above for details on different options. You can also talk this through with your Indivisible Organizer! While this toolkit is mostly focused on virtual events, your group can also consider other safe, physically distanced events as well. We’re looking forward to seeing the creative ideas that emerge!

Set a date and time. Start by figuring out when you’re going to have your event. Most likely you will need to coordinate with your Senator’s office before confirming a time. Remember to check in with group members and potential speakers to see what’s most convenient before finalizing a time. As always, consider what times will be most accessible for folks in your community particularly around work and parenting or care-taking schedules.

Register your event on the MoveOn map. Once you have your event set, register it on the MoveOn map. You can find the landing page here, where you can search for your event. That way we can help push out your event and help recruit attendees.

Delegate and determine roles. Any event is a great opportunity to develop leadership within your group and empower folks to take on new responsibilities. Depending on the scale of your event, you may want to create teams or just have one point person for specific duties. Some areas that you can consider delegating include: tech, recruitment, new member follow-up, speaker recruitment, press liaison, and visuals.

Start recruiting. Even though you aren’t asking folks to show up in person, it’s just as important as ever to really invest time in recruiting. Indivisibles know the best practices by now and what works in their communities. Make calls to invite members/new members, send emails, send out texts, make a Facebook event, etc. This is something you can get your full group involved in too by reaching out to their networks or all taking a few potential new members to reach out to. Compliance note: Depending on how you message your event, spending to promote your event may have campaign finance implications. We recommend sticking to email and unpaid social media to promote the event unless you consult with a lawyer or are already familiar with political spending.

Set your agenda and invite speakers. A town hall or lobby meeting tends to follow a relatively typical agenda: Welcome and Introduction (this section should include an overview of our priorities and a direct ask), MoC Introduction, MoC speaks, MoC takes questions. But you can get as creative as you want with how you set up your town hall and what creative hooks you include.

Pro-tip: Make sure you coordinate with your MoCs team on how much time they’ll join for and how many questions they’ll take. For additional support, your organizer can connect you with our policy team for more information on where your Senator stands on our key priorities.

Prepare with event support volunteers. You’ll likely need some time to check in with everyone who is helping make the event happen to ensure all bases are covered and everyone is clear on their roles. This may be best accomplished in a briefing with all volunteers or in separate check-ins.

Invite reporters. Invite reporters who have covered your Senator. Read recent stories about them looking for the “bylines” of people who’ve written them. Check in with any guest speakers to make them aware media are invited, and see if they can offer any help bringing them. If reporters are able to make it, mention at the beginning of the event they are there, so participants are aware. If they can’t make it, send them the press release afterwards.

Do a run through. A run through or multiple run throughs are absolutely critical! This is an opportunity to make sure you work out any tech issues, that everyone knows their role and that there won’t be any surprises on the day. Ideally, a full run through should include everyone who will be speaking and supporting the event (so try to get outside speakers to join too even if just for part of it and see if someone from your MoCs staff can join). Mimic conditions of the actual event as much as possible. That is, use the same technology, run through the sections as if it’s the real thing and test out any tricky technical elements like live streaming or polls.

Confirm your attendees. How many times have you RSVP’ed for an event and then forgotten about it? Don’t let that happen to all the attendees you spent so much time inviting to the event! Send a reminder email, make phone calls and send text messages.

Hosting Your Event

Finally, the day of the event has arrived! Hosting a virtual event, like an in person event, is a lot of fun and at points can be stressful.

Have your event volunteers and speakers arrive early. This is a virtual event, so it’s likely you’ll have to troubleshoot some technical issues -- ask your volunteers and speakers to arrive 30 minutes early to work out as many of those as you can before other attendees join. You can make sure everyone’s mics/cameras work, confirm volunteers are clear on their roles and get folks excited for a great event.

Confirm your attendees. While event volunteers and speakers are arriving, this is a good opportunity for a final round of texts or emails to remind folks about the event. Especially since they don’t need to go anywhere, that final reminder may get them to open up their computer.

Welcome event attendees. As attendees join, you can welcome them and let them know when the program will get started. Depending on the scope of the event and the platform, this can be an opportunity to build community and for attendees to introduce themselves in the chatbox.

Go through the event agenda. Once you hit the time of your event, you get to watch all your hard work happen.

Thank attendees for joining and ask them to take action. At the end of the event, don’t forget to once again thank everyone for being there and provide clear calls to action. Some ideas include:

  • Do coordinated LTEs about Democracy Reform.
  • Have everyone tweet about their Senator after the event.
  • Ask folks to sign up for future events.

Follow Up from your Event

The thing that distinguishes the great organizers from the good organizers is follow up!

Send a thank you email. It’s a good practice to send a quick follow up email a day or so after your event to reiterate your appreciation for joining, share any resources that came up during the event and remind folks about your call(s) to action.

Thank speakers and volunteers. Send a specialized follow up and thank you to your event volunteers and to any special speakers you had at the event. This can be a handwritten note, phone call or email depending on what makes sense in the circumstances.

Follow up individually with attendees. After you do outreach to all your attendees, make a plan to follow up with folks individually -- especially those who haven’t been to events with your group before. Recruit others in your group to help call through the attendees to thank them for joining, build a relationship and see how they want to get involved in your group.

Send reporters a press release, photos/screenshots, and stories. Even if no reporters make it, which happens, you can package up some highlights for them afterwards in case they can use them in their coverage of the race later. Write a press release. Get quotes from any guest speakers. Send screenshots. Transcribe and share constituent testimonials. One long email with a bunch of attachments is OK.

Planning a District Office Visit

Every MoC has one or more local offices, but generally constituents don’t visit them. Over the last few years, that’s changed quite a bit with local Indivisible groups showing up (often once a week) to district offices all over the country. Showing up at district offices seems simple, but it can have an enormous impact. It also demonstrates to them that you- their constituents- care very much about the issue you’ve come in to speak about and that you’ll be watching what they do going forward.

Please note: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic, we recommend keeping district office visits and any in-person events small. Design your events for 3-5 people and make sure that everyone involved commits to wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.

Before the Visit

  1. Make a plan with your group. During a regular meeting or special planning meeting, review the below steps with your group and divide up responsibilities.
  2. Find the right office. Every MoC lists the physical addresses of their district offices on their public website. If you can’t find it, just give them a call and ask—the staff will be happy to tell you locations and hours.
  3. Pick a day to go. Pick a day and time between 9-5 (since that’s when the offices are open) when as many of the members of your group can participate as possible—for example, at the beginning of the day or during lunch hour.
  4. Try to make an appointment. Since this is during recess and we have a few weeks to plan, there’s a chance you can get an appointment with your actual Member of Congress. The earlier you reach out, the more likely the MoC’s schedule is still open. So start planning early and see if you can get a meeting.
  5. That said, don’t let “by appointment only” cramp your style. If you can’t get an appointment or would prefer an element of surprise—you can try just showing up. If you decide to just show up, be ready if the office is closed—plan a creative action your group can take a video of, or take a picture of the closed office and post it to social media.
  6. Prepare any props or setup needs: At the very least, you need a few signs with your demands. But this is a great opportunity to be creative. Indivisible can likely reimburse you for prop and visual expenses. Just work with your Indivisible organizer or reach out to supportteam@indivisible.org to make a plan.
  7. Decide who you want to speak with and who from your group will talk. Your MoC likely won’t be in the local office, although you never know. The best person on his or her staff to meet with is the District/Office Director. You should first ask to meet with the MoC directly, and only accept a meeting with the District Director if the MoC is unavailable. They may try to get rid of you—don’t take “no” for an answer. If you show up in a group, they will be more likely to see you.
  8. Assign speaking roles and practice your ask. This recess, we are asking our MoCs to prioritize bold, sweeping democracy reform including HR 1 and DC Statehood as the first non-recovery package, and don’t let anything get in the way (ie* the filibuster).
  9. Reach out to local media:Remember, your goal is to generate earned 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. Need help? Your organizer can connect you with Indivisible’s press team for additional support and coaching, including help building a media list of local contacts.

At the Office

  1. Set up your visuals. The media loves visuals so make sure you arrive at the office at least fifteen minutes before the media so you have time to set up.
  2. Greet the media. Before you get started, take a few minutes to introduce yourself to any reporters who attend your event. Just a quick, “Hi, how are you?” can go a long way to building ongoing relationships with reporters.
  3. Establish your legitimacy. Introduce yourselves and your group. Identify yourselves as constituents and talk about where in the district or state you live.
  4. Tell your stories. If this issue would affect you, your family, or your friends and neighbors, talk about how and why.
  5. Focus on the asks. This recess, we are asking our MoCs to prioritize bold, sweeping democracy reform including HR 1 and DC Statehood and to support the THRIVE Agenda.
  6. Close the meeting by planting your flag in the office. Your MoC works for you. Say you will be coming back regularly to make sure the MoC is listening to you and representing his or her constituents. Get the contact information of everybody you talk to, and send a follow up email after.
  7. Record it or it didn’t happen. Get a picture of your group at the office. Even better yet, get a video of your group before, during, and/or after. Bottom line, your voice will be louder and better heard if you get documented evidence. If you’d like us to help amplify, send your media to stories@indivisibleguide.com. Include these three pieces of info in that email:
    • Short description of photo/video
    • Name of group with applicable links to social or web
    • Names of people in the video/picture

After Your Visit

  1. Post photos and videos on social media. Send your pictures to stories@indivisible.org as well.
  2. Send a thank you letter. Particularly if you have a meeting with your MoC, send a thank you letter, reiterating briefly the main ask you discussed and thanking everyone for their time.
  3. Follow up with the media. Email any reporters who showed up at the event to say thank you and send your press release to any other media outlets on your press list.
  4. Debrief with your group. Discuss what went well and what you can do better next time.
  5. Plan your next action. Figure out how you’ll keep up the momentum moving forward.

Check out How to Have a Successful Office Visit for more tips and troubleshooting common challenges.

Your 51 Star Flag: Creative ideas

Delivering your 51 star flag to your local Senate office is an impactful and direct way to put your support for DC Statehood in front of your senator, whether it’s in person, or in another formal capacity if office closings don’t allow.

We’re eager to tell the story as a movement of how widespread support for D.C. Statehood is around the country: that rural and suburban and urban dwellers, from red states and blue, near and far, do care about what happens to the District of Columbia. We’re specifically trying to help counter a narrative that the public is indifferent to what happens to D.C., outside of the region. The wider we can show that support is there, the better.

How the Indivisible Project may these videos:

  • Amplify them on social media
  • Share with TV networks and reporters
  • Share with fellow advocates in this space.

Creative ideas:

  • Do an “unboxing” video: These are popular on Youtube.
    • “I just got my 51 star flag! This is what the flag should look like. I’m so excited. Next week I’m taking it to my Senators office along with postcards/posters/fellow Indivisible activists/etc...”
  • Compare a 50-star and 51-star flag: A surprising number of people name the idea of having to alter the aesthetics of the flag as one of their reasons for objecting to DC Statehood. But the 51 star flag is very similar.
  • Show us where you are. Take your flag outside to show support for D.C. Statehood is all over the country. Often, the backgrounds for the videos we shoot inside are very similar. It’s hard to tell visually whether someone is in Alabama or Alaska. Take your flag out to a landmark or sign in your town. Get in front of some palm trees, palm trees, beach or desert, and shoot any of the above.
  • Share a message of solidarity directly with the residents of D.C., from your home state. Activists in the District of Columbia tell us they’re always encouraged to hear that support for the cause they're worked so long for is coming in from all over.
  • Humans of New York”-style personal videos: Like these beloved videos, just talk a little about your personal story, and why D.C. Statehood feels like the right thing to do to you. For example, one thing we’ve sometimes heard from Indivisible folks is that, after spending the last four years regularly calling their senators, they’re now acutely aware what a loss it would be not to be able to call anyone.

Presenting your flag to your office

Lawmakers’ offices are often formally presented with symbolic gifts by constituents. Whether your senator or MoC is for D.C. statehood or against it, it can be a powerful way to put them on the spot, and a powerful extension of your groups’ ability to tell this story.

However, the pandemic means many offices may not be open in person, and norms may be different. The best way to proceed may vary, but in general a good first step may look like this: Call the office, ask their policy for gifts, when they say they’re closed, send a formal letter or pile of letters and make a video explaining when their offices open, you’ll be excited to present them with this flag

If a group is open, and you and your group are delivering a flag in person, here are some more creative approaches to making the most of that visit:

  • Shoot cell phone footage, raw and organic looking, following them into the office and filming, saying something like:
    • “We are delivering this flag to you so you can hang it to show support for D.C. statehood and stand in solidarity with the 700,000 residents of D.C. who don’t have the same representation -- like yourself -- that we do in our state.”
  • If it’ll be groups of 2 or 3, a photo of groups of 2 or 3 could be better. If a larger group, then video is great.
  • Take a photo at the office with the flag that you can share on social media afterwards and say:
    • We delivered this to Rep. XYZ’s office so they can hang it to show support for D.C. statehood and stand in solidarity with the 700,000 residents of D.C. who don’t have the same representation that we do in our state.”
  • Consider not just delivering the flags themselves, but also bringing letters and postcards from other constituents! Showing broad support for the issue.

Planning a Virtual Action Party (Phone Bank or LTE)

Over the course of election season, Indivisibles hosted thousands of virtual phone banking, letter writing and other voter contact virtual events. Hosting a virtual Letter to the Editor writing party or advocacy phonebank has a lot of similarities! These steps are meant to support those who are entirely new to hosting virtual action events and those who are trying out a new type of action.

Planning Your Event

A well planned event will ensure that you have the greatest impact and that attendees want to come back again.

Set a date and time. Pick a time (or times) that would work well for your group members and would be convenient for new folks to get involved. If there’s really varied availability, consider planning two events are different times.

Pick a platform for your event. If you’re new to setting up virtual events, check in with your Indivisible Organizer or reach out to supportteam@indivisible.org for help. We’ve developed some resources to support groups with hosting virtual events. You can see our Hosting Virtual Events resource for some creative ideas and best practices.

Publicize the event. Update your group and get commitments. Use this activity as an opportunity to bring in new folks too. Make calls to your neighbors, post in various Facebook groups, ask every group member to bring a friend. Event registration information is forthcoming - check back here for details!

Prepare your materials. Spend time the day before making sure all materials are ready -- even though you won’t be together physically, you want to make sure to have everything ready. Take some time to prepare your agenda and any necessary training.

  • Phonebanks: For a phonebank, you’ll want to make sure first and foremost you have a virtual call system set up (we can help you with that if you fill out our application here). Then make sure you’re comfortable with the script and you can pull together any other supportive materials like phonebank tips (here’s an example from election season).
  • LTE Party: For an LTE party, the most important preparation is having sample Letters to the Editor and information about where to send them. We have some quick LTE tools prepared for you to make this easy:
  • Think about any other fun features you want to add like phonebank bingo, a tally of how many supporters you identify, prizes, etc.

Confirm your attendees. Don’t forget to do a few rounds of confirmation calls, emails and texts.

Hosting Your Event

This is the most fun part -- event time!

Welcome your attendees. Have a plan to sign folks in when they join the virtual event. Some video platforms will keep track of this automatically, but others may not.

Start with an icebreaker/introductions. It’s always a good idea to take every opportunity to continue to build your group community and relationships across members. Depending on the size of the group, you can have everyone go around or for a larger group ask folks to respond in the chatbox.

Share the plan for the evening and get a temperature check. Go through the agenda and explain the goal for the evening (ie* submit X number of LTEs or call Y constituents). Ask some questions to understand how familiar folks are with the action they’ll be taking and to make things interactive. Have folks write in the chatbox or answer a poll about if they’ve phonebanked/written LTEs before.

Do a thorough training. Your attendees will feel more comfortable and have more success after an intentional training. Take some time to explain why this action is effective, how to do it and for phonebanking it’s also always a good idea to model a conversation/do a role play. If you need some support or are not quite sure how to get started with preparing a training, reach to your Indivisible Organizer or supportteam@indivisible.org.

Dive into action. It’s time to get started! There are a number of ways to write letters to the editor/make calls “together”. You can have everyone stay in the main room and mute themselves while communicating in the chatbox, you can split folks into breakout rooms or folks can go their own ways and come back at certain intervals to check in.

Close out with a debrief. Once everyone is done, first things first thank everyone! Then take some time to debrief. Ask folks what went well/not so well. Did phonebankers have good conversations? Difficult conversations? It’s important to celebrate success and talking through the things that didn’t go so well may make folks feel a bit better about them.

Share your success. Don’t forget to take pictures, post on social media and celebrate the great work your group is doing. Tag @indivisibleteam on Twitter so we can help amplify your work -- you can use #RecoveryRecess.

Following Up After Your Event

The follow up steps are mostly copied from the other tips in this toolkit!

Send a thank you email. It’s a good practice to send a quick follow up email a day or so after your event to reiterate your appreciation for joining and share any follow up steps.

Follow up individually with attendees. After you do outreach to all your attendees, make a plan to follow up with folks individually -- especially those who haven’t been to events with your group before. Recruit others in your group to help call through the attendees to thank them for joining, build a relationship and see how they want to get involved in your group.

Send reporters a press release, photos/screenshots, and stories. If you think highlighting your event in the press could be beneficial to your strategy, you can package up some highlights for reports. Write a press release. Get quotes from any guest speakers. Send screenshots. One long email with a bunch of attachments is OK.

Press, the pandemic, and our tactics

The pandemic continues to pose tons of challenges to our organizing. Though getting media coverage whenever we can always increases our impact, many tactics we’re proposing this recess are effective and impactful on their own, but also, may not very natural for press to cover,

That said, events should be only one of the ways we engage with the media in our area. Ideally, your Indivisible group is staying in touch with the key reporters who cover your MoC, responding with reactions to what they do, and being an ongoing “source” and point of contact for those reporters.

- If you are holding an event with an in-person component, whether it’s visiting an office or projecting something on a wall, we’d encourage you more than ever to contact the media and focus on getting coverage. We have sample press releases and media advisories and guidance to make this easy. Also check out: Press in a pandemic, our training from the People Lead mobilization in January.

-If you’re doing a virtual tactic like a phone bank or LTE party, use this template to send personalized “hello” email to a couple key reporters in your district. You can mention the event in passing -- it’s an example of the type of strategic work you do -- but inviting them doesn’t need to be the goal. Building a relationship is. Once again -- contact your organizer for support.

-If you’re having a non-public meeting with your congressional office, most of the time, bringing press in isn’t an appropriate goal. Talk with the office about their thoughts on inviting the media. If it’s not a fit, then, again-- take some time to say a personalized hello to reporters instead of inviting them.

Working With Media Before, During and After Your Action

If you’re having a traditional action with an in-person component…

Before The Event

  • Think about what you can do to make your event visually interesting. What would a TV camera see at your event? What can you do to make it visually interesting and grabby?
  • Visualize a good spot for a reporter to give interviews. Away from too much noise, but also close enough to capture good visuals in the background with signs and protesters.
  • Send your media advisory to your media list. Paste the media advisory into the body of your email, so it’s easy for reporters to copy and paste from. Then, add your media list to the “BCC” section of your email and send. Try to send it as far in advance as possible, and follow up the day before and the day of the event.
  • If you need help putting a media list together, email press@indivisible.org.
  • If you have time to do some follow-up check out: How to Get Press to Cover Your Event for detailed tips.
  • Help media get what they need during the event. Greet any media that attend and get their contact info. Reporters appreciate feeling like their needs are taken care of.

After the Event

  • Send out a press release and photos. Share a press release with reporters who made it and those who didn’t. (A new template will be added to this document for your use.) The idea is to give newspapers everything they might need to write up a news story even if they didn’t make it. Make sure your release includes a quote from attendees, and attach photos.
  • Follow up with reporters you spoke to. Email or call them to ask if they have questions, and add them to your media list to give them future updates.
  • Consider following up a day or two after the event with an “ICYMI” email. It doesn’t hurt!