Grassroots organizing is a way to effect change through a collective voice. In political terms, grassroots movements usually begin with efforts at a local or district level that then effect changes on regional, national, or global platforms. Grassroots groups can take many forms, from a loosely defined group of individuals working to advance an idea, value, or philosophy to a highly centralized, task oriented organization. The real defining aspect of grassroots is that the power comes from the “bottom up,” utilizing the voices and the actions of the masses as the force of transformation. While a rule by the elite is nothing new, our newly elected and appointed administration is the wealthiest in U.S. History. Many people are feeling the urgency to join grassroots movements for the first time. When systems fail to protect people, it is up to the people themselves to advocate for plurality, equality, inclusivity, and basic human rights. Supporting grassroots movements is a way to empower yourself to be actively and pragmatically involved in the issues you feel passionately about.
What Does Grassroots Mean?
Start With Yourself
Broaden your understanding of issues that don’t directly affect you. Listen to and read the stories and experiences of people who are outside of your typical social group to gain a better understanding of their diverse perspectives. This is a great way to build stronger relationships within your community and be an ally!
A few ideas for getting started!
- Register To Vote
- Read Up On What’s Going On In Your Local Gov’t
- Identify 5 Things You’re Passionate About
- Volunteer Your Time/Donate Your Money
- Contact Your Representatives by phone/email/snail mail
- Be an ally!
Be Active in Your Local and National Communities!
Attend protests, gatherings, rallies, town hall meetings. There’s true strength in numbers. Sign petitions. Volunteer time or donate money to organizations and causes that are important to your community and values. Discuss current issues, especially with those who hold different views. Don’t allow any excuses for malice and bigotry. If you’re in an unsafe situation and see something, say something!
Primary elections are held every 4 years, this is where we vote to elect the President of the United States. Our next primary election will be held in 2020.
Midterm elections are two years after the presidential election. This provides an opportunity for voters to significantly change the makeup in the House of Representatives. Because senators serve 6-year terms about one-third of these seats are up for election during midterm years. In 34 of the 50 states, state governors are also elected during this times.
Focus your advocacy on 2 people.
Your state senator and state representative. When you contact them to advocate for an issue or seek their help, always identify yourself as a constituent. Legislators often receive thousands of emails and many phone calls about any given issue, but the ones from constituents are given more attention and hold greater significance in influencing their decisions.
Congress members and state legislators hold town hall meetings, too. Go to one! When contacting any elected official, be specific and let them know how you feel about their actions and stances on issues. If you disagree with a vote or action, be articulate, clear, and communicate your position respectfully. If you’re proud of how a Senator or Congressperson is representing you, let them know that, too! 5 Calls is a great resource for connecting with your representatives about issues you care about. They provide contact info and a simple script to help you get started: www.5calls.org
The most effective form of communication (In this order!):
- In person meeting
- Phone Call
- Written Letter
- Social Media