A Conduit to Community: How a Pandemic Can Build Progressive Power in Rural Areas
By Kristina Holtrop, Blue Future Spring for Progress and Change organizer
Sequim, WA is an unusual place to start a career in progressive politics: a rural retirement town, there aren’t a lot of people, even fewer progressives, an even fewer number of people of color -and certainly not a lot of young people. This is one of the reasons I am grateful for the Blue Future Spring for Progress and Change program, which gave me the opportunity to learn and organize virtually in a diverse community of like-minded youth leaders from around the country and the world.
When I joined Blue Future, I was placed into a group of other organizers from my state so we could work together on lobbying the politicians in our region. I was immediately expecting to be surrounded by people from Seattle, the metropolis and progressive hub of my state, and thought I would be the only one from a rural community. I was surprised and elated to find that each of the seven of us were from a different congressional district in Washington state; each of us from different cities, races, backgrounds, and with different motivations for creating a more just and progressive future.
During each of Blue Future’s weekly zoom meetings, we were joined and inspired by guest speakers. Some of these speakers were from progressive action organizations, like the Sunrise Movement and Planned Parenthood, which have national recognition yet regional chapters that all of us can get involved in on a grassroots level in our own communities. We were sometimes even joined by high-level politicians like Jamie Raskin and Ed Markey, who recognize the importance of youth voices in our democracy.
I am writing this on the day that I got my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. As I reflect on my experience with Blue Future, I hope that even when the pandemic ends and groups start meeting in person again, that virtual spaces continue to give young organizers in remote or conservative communities the opportunity to be included in the nationwide progressive organizing community the way I did.
About Kristina: Kristina Holtrop is a reproductive justice organizer in Sequim, WA, and will embark to graduate school in the Netherlands in the fall of 2021 to get a Master of Public Policy and Human Development at Maastricht University.