Making Room for Young Change-Makers
By Abigail Alpern Fisch, Blue Future Spring for Progress and Change organizer
While graduating from college in May 2020 during a pandemic and a major economic recession was not something I could have ever prepared for, gaining political organizing experience during such a crucial election season seemed like an opportunity I couldn’t miss. Every day from August 2020 through January 2021, I spoke with voters in Maine, and then in Georgia, organizing weekly phone banking events over Zoom for college students, and checking in with voters about the status of their mail-in-ballots. During a time when staying at home and social distancing were crucial to slowing the curve of the pandemic, workshopping my ‘hard ask’ of volunteers to the sound of HubDialer’s background music became a large part of my day-to-day routine and adjustment to a ‘new normal.’
Starting with the very first training, I had never previously felt so energized by a group of Zoom squares. Alongside over 100 other young people from across the country, ages 15–25, who are passionate about learning and growing our organizing and advocacy muscles on behalf of progressive change, I could feel that I was not alone in my desire to make our communities and country a more equitable and just place for all. The Blue Future team, issue advocacy training sessions and featured speakers reinforced to us that staying true to progressive values is not a weakness or failed political strategy; but rather, being unapologetic in promoting what you believe is strength in organizing for the future and better world we wish to see.
My time so far with Blue Future also demonstrated the importance of investing in the leadership and professional development of young change-makers. No one should be left to feel that they are alone in the process of fighting for social change. Rather, young organizers are stepping in –especially in the digital space–to create communities, communications networks, and opportunities for mentorship to bring more people into the fold of fighting for a progressive future. Young people do not need permission to lead, and we must use our voices to encourage our friends, families, and all communities of which we are a part to not only see the ways in which existing systems might be broken or unjust, but we must also share our ideas and fight for policies that reimagine these systems for a better future.
While young people must continue to show up for each other in our fight for a more equitable and just future, those already in positions of leadership within the civic engagement, social activism, and political space should also recognize the growing leadership of young activists.
Established leaders must make an honest effort to support young activists and our process of stepping into our power and owning a seat at the decision-making table. Whether that be through creating paid internships and shadowing opportunities, being responsive to Youth Advisory Councils set up to foster dialogue between young constituents and their elected leaders, or by financially supporting programs like Blue Future which offer professional development training sessions, such as writing letters to the editor, telling one’s personal story, or running for office at the local level. The youth cannot be expected to ‘save us’ without the willingness of those in positions of power and influence at least making some space at the table.
Blue Future re-instilled in me the motivation to continue organizing for the world in which my peers and I want to live. I continue to be inspired and appreciate the continued support from the Blue Future community in our fight to transform politics and, as Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey told us in one of our training sessions, “put in the work for a fairer and more empathetic world.”
About Abigail: Originally from Bethesda, Maryland, Abigail Alpern Fisch (she/her) considers Massachusetts a second home after graduating from Tufts University in May 2020 with a degree in Peace and Justice Studies and a minor in Sociology. Currently, Abigail is working with the national, anti-poverty advocacy nonprofit based in Washington D.C., Coalition on Human Needs, as a New Media Fellow. She is creating a new podcast for the organization, Voices for Human Needs, to empower new and experienced activists to advocate on behalf of anti-poverty policies. Abigail is continuing to work on building the Massachusetts Coalition of Youth Advisory Councils (MACYAC) that she started with eight other Blue Future Organizers this spring. Abigail cares deeply about organizing on behalf of affordable housing, gun violence prevention, democracy reform, and racial and economic justice.