Our Candidates (might) Make History!

photo of Zekiah Wright, a Black nonbinary person with short twists and glasses, wearing a grey jacket, white shirt and bow tie. Photo of Stephanie Wade, a white trans woman in a blue patterned dress, sitting in a grey Adirondack chair on a brick patio with a palm tree behind her.
(l to r) Zekiah Wright and Stephanie Wade

You’ve heard all the election recaps right? Democrats did better than expected. Some races still too close to call. No red wave. Blah, blah, blah. Let’s move on. . .

. . . . to runoffs. No, not that runoff.

The Organizing to Win runoff!

In addition to working with clients on organizing structure, I worked with two candidates this cycle, both in local races.

Stephanie Wade – Seal Beach

Stephanie Wade is running for city council in the lovely, little beachside city of Seal Beach, CA. She made it to the runoff and will face her main opponent again in January. We’re confident that Stephanie’s lead (at press time) of 56 votes will hold up – if we do everything right.

If (when!) she wins, Stephanie will be the only veteran on the council in a city with a major Naval installation and the only surfer on the council in this surfer town. Her progress is historic, as she would be the first trans woman elected in Orange County.

Our biggest challenge is showing Stephanie’s deep commitment to a community where she’s lived for just a year. (She jokes that she’s so Seal Beach that she’s like a Soviet dissident who reminds us how much we love America.) With a side of transphobia. The good news is that she is a master at building relationships. With her charm, my strategy and a powerhouse team of volunteers, we’ve built a winning campaign.

Zekiah Wright – West Hollywood

I also worked with Zekiah Wright, a quiet star on the West Hollywood leadership scene. They take on issues with a values-first approach, accepting the challenge of talking about their bold, progressive views. They are one of the most authentic and uncompromising candidates with whom I’ve worked.

Z was one of 12 candidates running for 3 seats on the WeHo city council. For two weeks after election day, they were in 6th place and I thought “we ran a good race, but it wasn’t enough this time.”

But wait a minute now . . . .

In one day, they leapfrogged into fourth place! At press time, they are only 18 votes out of third place. And counting.

Z would make history as the first non-binary person and first Black person on the WeHo city council.

So how did these two relative newcomers make such an impact?

Relationships and communication.

Stephanie never met someone she didn’t want to get to know better. Zekiah never met a hard question they didn’t want to answer. Both candidates focused on building relationships – and the rest comes naturally. Win or not, they are both well-positioned to have impacts on their communities from now on.

Stay tuned to OTW social media for updates!

Are you a Witch?

four women holding blue abortion rights signs with fists raised in the air
photo credit: @AFPandrew @AFPphoto

Don’t you love Halloween? The costumes. The adorable kids. The candy. (The day-after-Halloween candy sales.) The silliness.

I especially love all the witches. And by witch, I mean:

Woman

In

Total

Control of

Herself

Since June 24, there are a whole lot of witches out there. We’re marching, raising money, speaking out, knocking on doors, making noise and running for office. We’re also organizing.

When women, or members of any historically excluded community, take control of ourselves, big things happen.

And that’s what organizing is all about. Every organizing campaign is about more than winning. In the very process of organizing, we transform ourselves and our communities. We take control of our lives and our future. Ask any worker who has organized a union at their workplace. The change is not just about the legal ability to negotiate a raise or better hours. The victory is in the transformation of the workers and the workplace into one where workers have some control.

When I worked with women union members in Florida during an election campaign, it was immediately obvious which members had organized their union and which had inherited it. Many members at long-time-union workplaces already participate in campaigns and contract enforcement.

Workers who had organized their union felt the collective power because they had built it. They were the first to sign up for volunteer actions. Every single member in that unit joined the political action fund. They surpassed their goals for engaging their co-workers and friends in the campaign. They were in total control of themselves.

Organizing is bringing people together to build power. When we have power in our communities, we take control of the decisions that affect our lives.

Be a witch. 🧙‍♀️

July at OTW: Two Years In

image in the style of a Tarot card. Grey top hat with a dollar sign and red band. Roman number III and a lightning bolt at the top with grey clouds framing the corners. Raindrops fall around the hat. Stacks of golden coins and the words The Capitalism along the bottom.
Image credit: @teenvogue

When I started Organizing to Win two years ago, I didn’t have big dreams of being my own boss. I didn’t care about being a small business owner. There were no visions of entrepreneurship dancing in my head.

I was just frustrated. I had spent the previous year applying for jobs, interviewing, networking, writing resumes and cover letters. Nothing fit. Then, after one particularly weird (not bad, just weird) interview experience, it all clicked.

I left that interview thinking (1) I don’t want that job and (2) why am I killing myself to fit in places I don’t fit? I want to help bring people together to build power. Whether I do that as an employee of one organization or as a consultant to lots of organizations, doesn’t really matter.

The Business that Became Organizing to Win was Born.

Since then, I’ve had some amazing opportunities, like training a cadre of women political leaders in St. Louis, parent leaders in California and education justice organizers across the country. I was also fortunate to provide organizing and training strategy support to environmental justice organizers in Georgia, elect fun and inspiring candidates and help change the conversation about gun violence in our country.

I’ve discovered two main challenges in building this business. First, women are taught not to speak up about our accomplishments or skills. We’re not supposed to bring attention to what we do and we’re definitely not supposed to talk about ourselves. Apparently, I have internalized those rules really well.

These days, I completely break all those internalized rules to post to social media about my work, write about victories and display my expertise in blog posts and LinkedIn. (Not to mention here, in this newsletter!) 😨

(BTW, you can help with this challenge – follow me on social media with the buttons in the footer, and invite a friend to subscribe to this newsletter!)

Next, the last job I had at a for-profit enterprise was in 1991. Everything since then has been nonprofit organizations, unions and political campaigns.

Now, I have to be a salesperson, marketer and, most disconcerting of all, a capitalist. It’s an odd position for someone who fancies herself a union organizer* and anti-racist.

I’ve learned a lot, met some amazing people and I’m proud of the work I’ve done so far.

What’s Next?

I look forward to what comes next. There are a few new projects waiting in the wings but I don’t want to jinx it by telling you before they’re ready!Thanks for your support. If we haven’t connected in a while, let’s chat! Use the contact form to get in touch.

*I can’t count how many discussions I had with union members about why asking co-workers to join the union or the political action fund wasn’t “selling” or “marketing.”

New Campaigns, New Candidates – Brights Spots in 2022

Seal Beach pier and blue ocean in the foreground. Beach and snow-capped mountains in the background

I won’t lie. June has been a hard month. January 6th Committee hearings that reveal just how close we are to losing our democracy. Supreme Court decisions that recognize more rights for guns than for women. Inflation and looming recession. It’s a lot.

With federal elections and policy in such turmoil, I’m inspired by action on the state and local levels. There are bright spots.

I’m so excited to work with Stephanie Wade in her campaign for Seal Beach City Council. A new resident of Seal Beach, she chose that city on purpose – for the surfing, for the community, for the small town feel in the middle of hyper-urban Orange County. Like a convert to a new religion, she is more Seal Beach than many long-time residents. 💯🏄‍♀️

Stephanie is part of what is turning into a wave of visible trans political leadership. See Virginia Del. Danica Roem, Palm Springs Mayor Lisa Middleton, Delaware State Senator Sarah McBride, Minneapolis City Council President Andrea Jenkins and many, many more.

She was inspired to run by needs she saw in her community.

“Seal Beach is a dynamic, beautiful community. To protect that special feel, we have to protect our beaches, keep our city safe and be strategic about housing,” Stephanie says.

The campaign will focus on the fundamentals – building relationships with voters, talking about issues and getting out the vote. Steph and I both believe that if we ask voters to vote for her, she might win. But if we build relationships with voters, she can win on the issues that inspired her to run in the first place.

Want to be part of this inspiring campaign? Donate to Stephanie Wade here.

Root Causes and Organizing Strategy Coaching

tree silhouette with deep roots on white background.

Big news!

Starting this month, Organizing to Win’s (OTW) mission expands to include white supremacy disruption consulting and organizing strategy coaching.

If you read the Organizing to Win newsletter regularly (thank you!), you may have noticed an emphasis on what is sometimes called diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). While DEI programs are important, I prefer to talk about disrupting the root causes of injustice – white supremacy culture. While none of us committed crimes against humanity like slavery or genocide of Indigenous people, many of us benefit from their continuing legacy. It is up to us to break down that white supremacy culture and begin building a culture of justice.

While each OTW white supremacy disruption program is customized for the organization, key elements include exploring identity, building relationships and an emphasis on unlearning and learning new. Caution: light bulb moments ahead! 💡

Throughout my organizing career, some of my best ideas came when I could “think out loud.” I’m grateful for the support of more senior organizers who offered feedback and gently moved me back on track when I got diverted.

I look forward to providing that support to others. Starting in June, I’ll offer one-on-one and small group coaching. In these sessions, we’ll focus on talking through challenges, building skills and applying new training to real life situations.

To learn more about these ideas for your organization, see the newly updated home page. Or contact me here!

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