Check out this latest "Better Know A Turf" entry to learn about the work that's been happening in Council Bluffs since the launch of the Obama 2012 campaign in April. This amazing group of volunteers have been organizing tirelessly, not just to build their neighborhood teams, but also to empower their community as a whole.
This past summer, when southwest Iowa was devastated by flooding along the Missouri River, team leaders mobilized to provide relief. Able-bodied volunteers filled sandbags while others made sandwiches. These "Sandwiches and Sandbags" events were a unique opportunity for folks who were used to volunteering for Democratic campaigns to step away from their usual campaign work. This wasn't about door knocking or phone banking for a candidate; this was about empowering a community to help their friends and neighbors when they needed it most. Laura, the field organizer for Council Bluffs, explained the feeling:
At that moment, helping with flood relief efforts was the most important work we could do. As Democrats, we campaign and fight for the middle class. We offer a voice to those who don't have the influence to speak in Washington. In times of crisis, we must put our words into action. And that's why we continued to sandbag each week. We came together with diverse backgrounds in order to form one common story: hope for our community. And in return, we found inspiration in the people we met each week and their reasons for helping their community.
Teams like these don't just appear out of thin air. Laura and the volunteers in Pottawatamie County have always understood the importance of the work they're doing now to build a stronger organization block-by-block, day-by-day. Tristan, a local high school student, witnessed this first hand during his first "Pizza and Politics" get-together with his classmates a few months ago. Although this group of high schoolers has grown tremendously over the course of the Iowa caucus campaign, Tristan knew that they had to start somewhere.
Although the first turnout may have been somewhat small, we all understood the fact that certain things take a while to catch on. Laura told me, “You know, zero people showed up at President Obama’s first event when he was a community organizer in Chicago.” Later that night, I truly understood what that meant. Events and organizations like these start out small. It does take time for things to catch on. But we hope for the future.Council Bluffs and its residents have been through a lot of ups and downs over the last few months. Through it all, Laura says these volunteers have kept one thing constant above all else; their passion for the work they're doing.
Hope is what built the last campaign. Knowing that is what will build the next. I know that getting together with high school students won’t necessarily win any votes, but connecting with my community as an organizer brings the presidential campaign to a local level. It's important that people know that their community can come together to make this nation a better place.
I think we underestimate just how much this President has affected people and how willing they are to make sure that the progress is bigger than their own lives. Everyone is so sincere in their volunteering – no one walks in the door hoping for a title. They all walk in hoping to be a part of something bigger than themselves.