Throughout the pandemic, United Vision for Idaho has built a model for relational organizing by building an arc of relational organizing. Together, we have built a community and arc of people across this country who are committed stepping into the breach to ask of each other and of ourselves the hard questions, face the reality of our shared history and face our fears and frustrations and find a way to build a new together. building leveraging virtual and distributed programs to replicate our approach and not sacrificing it to technology. Beginning with statewide community wellness checks, moving to follow-up phone calls, virtual gatherings, and other relational organizing strategies to deepen engagement and build leadership capacity; we have set the foundation for strong, long-term relational organizing digital programs.
Issues that are couched in extremist rhetoric and steeped in bigotry are highly effective at sowing division and fear in communities that are isolated. When we meet people at their source of pain and engage in meaningful conversations about the values that unite us and the issues that matter most the transformation that occurs is remarkable. It results in ideological shifts, civic participation, and voter participation on those issues.
This work has been the culmination of our work with key partners, People’s Action and Western States Center and draws from the work of Anat Osorio-Shenker and our decades long on the ground experience talking with people about their pain and engaging them in a movement, not just a moment.
The core focus of our narrative strategy is “building a bigger we” to promote belonging in rural and small-town communities and build the framework for broader urban-suburban-rural alliances.
Everything is at stake in this upcoming election. Our lives are inextricably linked and our issues and values unite us in a shared struggle. At a time when it is easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless, taking action is an affirmative step we can all make to empower ourselves and our communities to revision and remake a world and a democracy that works for everyone.
Our program is unique, transformative vs a transactional approach. Since April we have reached out to 500K voters, had 64K deep conversations, enlisted 300 new volunteers and have retained contact with individuals at a rate that is typically a 20-30% opt out, ours is .035% Which tells us a great deal about how we use language and meet people where they are.
By creating a model that broke with traditional digital outreach, we've created a program that is being highlighted across the country and applied more broadly to the progressive movement.
A Federal Policy Agenda to Meet This Moment in Rural and Small-Town America
We see the potential that exists in our communities, and it’s time for candidates for every level of office to see it too. But a quick campaign stop or scenic rural photo-op is not enough to meet the moment rural communities and small towns face – and neither is promising a return to the pre-pandemic status quo. Rural communities need candidates who will work with us on a new approach, based on our vision for what our communities can be: anchored by thriving small towns with diversified economies, strong safety nets that meet people’s needs, a family farm food system, a plan to rapidly transition to a renewable energy future and a jobs guarantee that invests in us to rebuild our communities and take care of each other.
“I'm amazed by what your organization is doing, especially in a state as red as Idaho. Combining your bold agenda with the reach, expertise and volunteer support of People's Action feels like a powerful tandem. While many campaigns seem to ask a lot of straight forward or yes/no questions, your campaign is asking how people feel, which I think is important. I was somewhat skeptical at first, but your campaign showed me how text-banking can create the opportunity to have a meaningful conversation if the responses are rooted in compassion.”
United Vision for Idaho board member and amazing activist Adam Thompson asking Sen. Sanders "The Question!"
"I am a third-year college student in Boise, Idaho and I’m Jewish.
White Nationalist groups have more than doubled in my state over the past three and a half years. There is a threat of harm that I and diverse communities face all the time. But, it’s not like this was an accident. Most people dismiss rural communities and places like Idaho as red and racist and invest in other places.
While the progressive movement divested, the far-right has invested everything to exploit the pain of the working class and pit us against one another.
Question: How do we make sure the next administration listens to US? And…
What do you say to people in rural communities thinking about sitting this election out?"
To See Each Other is a documentary series that complicates the narrative about rural Americans in our most misunderstood, and often abandoned, communities. Host George Goehl - a leading grassroots organizer - travels to Michigan, Iowa, New Jersey, North Carolina and Indiana to reveal how small town folks are working together in fights for everything from clean water and racial justice to immigrant rights and climate change.When we see each other, we’ll understand that we can never give up on each other.Find us on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and anywhere you listen
COVID-19 has upended the 2020 campaign. Activists are testing a cutting-edge strategy to change the hearts and minds of voters in our pandemic election
George Goehl is on a mission.
“I want people to see the humanity of folks in rural communities first and foremost,” Goehl tells Shondaland. “We would be succeeding if people thought: Okay, I’m going to drop the preconceptions for a minute, listen to these stories, and have a different perspective on what’s possible in rural communities.”
"We cannot continue to cede these areas to anti-democratic extremists. White supremacy threatens us morally, physically and politically. While the stakes vary from person to person (say a black man in Portland and a white woman in Boise), we all suffer if the alt-right and anti-democratic movements persist and grow. These movements are a cancer on our democracy, and they are a parasite that feeds on the chaos and division."
By Eric Ward and Adrienne Evans
"These times are unusual, and not just because of COVID-19. What distinguishes this time from others is that we are truly seeing the culmination of an entire system that is at odds with the people it should have been designed to serve. What remains unknown is whether this will be the moment to usher in a 21st-century civil rights movement or a new civil war.
What will make the difference in these two starkly different visions of the future?"