Reflections on Organize for Democracy: Heidi Small
Blue Future teamed up with Grassroots Democrats HQ to create a compensated program to train young people in virtual organizing, which we called Organize for Democracy. At the conclusion of the program, we asked 3 of our wonderful participants to write a reflection on their time in the program.
I was both fortunately and unfortunately born into the smartphone era. What I mean by that is during the pandemic I fell into a rhythm of scrolling through endless posts or staring into the mindless zoom utopia for hours on end. As this new virtual world became inextricably entangled with my daily life to a level I never experienced before, I saw side effects. On one hand, I became so preoccupied with posts– like, scroll, repeat– that I became addicted to my phone. Media became a newfound tool that allowed me to connect with friends and family worldwide. But also, during my quarantine boredom, I succumbed to reading every news title that blared across my social media pages.
For the first time in my life, I became aware of the world around me and the injustice that inundates different communities. The headlines were never ending– flooding my phone and mind with the latest controversial tweet, wildfire displacing families, new bill enacted to restrict voting rights, the updated Covid-19 deaths, and police shootings. The repetition of hearing the same stories was exhausting, terrifying, discouraging, and I watched from behind my screen as polarization divided our country further. Although I had some experience in the political sphere, I wanted to learn more in an environment with other youth leaders aspiring to strengthen democracy across America. When I came across Blue Future’s Spring Organize for Democracy Leadership Program, I knew it was a serendipitous opportunity to advocate for others, engage in election campaigns, and use my voice to have a meaningful impact for a bluer future.
I cannot thank Blue Future enough for the opportunity they provided me. Amidst returning to a ‘new normal,’ Blue Future built a safe, supportive, inspiring, and empowering community of activists (including myself) who were eager to learn and grow from each other. We discussed new initiatives to create change on local and national levels, challenged one another to think deeper about the intersectionality of pressing issues, and fought together to create change. I am still struck by everyone’s willingness to grow and their enthusiasm for defending U.S. democracy. Additionally, I am so appreciative of my cohort leaders and community leaders for their reception to our feedback, and for truly tailoring the program to accommodate our interests. Everyone radiated energy into the virtual space which made it possible for me and my peers to grow as advocates, organizers, and the next generation of leaders.
In the past 8 weeks, Blue Future has prepared me to continue to fight for a progressive future. In addition to learning how to phonebank, I learned about the power of effective communication through speaking to voters directly. I had some of the most profound and inspiring conversations with young voters about the influence a single vote can have on electing Democrats. Furthermore, receiving feedback from my community engagement leader, listening to incredible elected officials, and conversing with my peers helped me to develop into a more confident and proactive leader. Blue Future provided a platform to learn about lobbying, networking, digital organizing, public policy, public speaking, and more– invaluable skills and knowledge which I will take with me throughout my life! I am so grateful to have worked with Blue Future on flipping swing states blue for the midterm elections next Fall and to have learned about the intricacies of campaigning. I can truly say that Blue Future taught me how to navigate the pandemic barriers by using technology as a tool to not only unite, but to continue the blue fight!
Heidi Small is a junior at Choate Rosemary Hall, where she is interested in political science and criminal justice. Her interest in social activism began after reading Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. Currently, she is on the cabinets of Amnesty International and March For Our Lives chapters at school where she takes part in canvassing, phone banking, and organizing.