Diverse people-powered movements are essential for a healthy democracy. Defusing extremism in America is vital to our collective wellbeing. We must meet people where they are, build bridges, and nurture both the health of our democracy and the health of our communities.
After decades of sounding the alarm about the mounting threats from anti-democratic efforts playing out in real time in Idaho and other rural parts of the country, today those realities face every American giving weight to the warning that as goes Idaho, so goes the country.
The pursuit of policies at the expense of building relationships with people increasingly leads to the erosion of both. Simply put, we cannot build a home without a foundation.
To truly get to the root of what is polarizing our country we knew that we had to be listening to people across ideological and political spectrums, to engage in meaningful dialogue, and reimagining community centered activism. It meant providing paths of engagement along a long arc of organizing that gives the space and the grace to consider something different. If we are going to shift the majority of the country around alignment on our shared interests and values and democracy itself, we’ll have to move hearts first.
So, in 2016, we expanded our deep relational organizing and traveled the state to meet with people in communities stretched across the state, particularly in areas of experiencing an escalation of authoritarian efforts aimed at dividing them, spreading mis and disinformation and igniting hate. After two years, we created an public directed list of issues comprised expressed to us and vetted by those communities before issuing the "Idaho People's Platform." From there community members know and unknown to us previously joined the effort with a giant door hanger in hand and knocked 10,000 doors to ask, "What hurts, what would make a difference in your life, that of your family, and that of your community?"
The results were astonishing! Most people said, "No one has asked me before what I think or feel?" When we documented their answers, they said, "You really care enough about what I think to write it down." The stories they shared we painful, hard truths about the realities that people had been living through. They spoke of their sadness, their loss of hope, their belief that their voice mattered and their fear for future generations. Even those who didn't share all of the same concerns outlined in a giant door hanger listing the points and the purpose of an Idaho People's Platform, most found some area of common alignment when engaged with respect, empathy and deep listening. And while some conversations didn't necessarily lead to a shared path of unity, they did powerfully interrupt the profiling we do of one another - often resulting in acknowledgments of appreciation for taking democracy seriously and wanting to find a path forward together.
From this program, we learned about what matters to Idahoans and how our organization can play a pivotal role in uniting us to ensure that as most have lost faith in government and our democratic institutions, we can build relationships across difference to reimagine those structures and remake them for our collective wellbeing and restore the balance of power for a truly democratic and just society though people-powered governance.
What is the People's Platform?
Idahoans across the state created and vetted the list of issues and values that are core motivators for families and communities in Idaho. This platform was ratified and adopted by 34 states including Idaho in 2019.
When the pandemic hit, it was no longer safe to have in-person community building efforts, so again understanding the threat of extremist division, we pivoted. See more here
This is the multiracial movement that includes America's working class, poor, and rural communities and uniting communities across America on our shared issues and values state by state.
In 2016, we launched the most robust rural organizing campaign in Idaho's history. We traveled the state for two years meeting with individuals and communities where they live about their fears, struggles and issues. As we did, we formulated a people’s platform that was ratified by the communities we met with. Producing hundreds of thousands of platform cards and door hangers and using deep relational canvassing to have thousands of conversations with unaffiliated, unregistered and nonvoters.