Tuesday, November 8, 2022

#ElectionDay2022 with GenX & GenZ

How do a Gen X mom and a Gen Z kid are spend their first election day far apart? We’ll show you…

This is the first year my kiddo has lived away from home. Teen advocate Yara is now a freshman at Johns Hopkins University, which makes me proud. But I’m also proud they’re spending Election Day with the Sunrise Movement up at my old campus at the University of Wisconsin - Madison to mobilize students there. I’m still here in St. Louis where Yara graduated high school from last spring. We’re both doing our best to keep up the election momentum and do everything we can for our issues on Election Day. This is what it looks like based on our texts to each other through the morning. 

MOM: I started the morning early dropping campaign signs off at several polling locations around University City. A great use of my newly repaired Subaru. It was very heartening to see lines already going out the door and wrapping around buildings! I was a little sad I couldn't convince any friends to come out and about with me at sunrise, but that meant I got to listen to Weird Al Yankovic really loudly as I drove.

Image: Cindy with campaign signs by the car

YARA: "Hey, do you want a Hot Girls vote sticker?" is my favorite tactic to get people to text their friends right after they leave the polls. These stickers are even more popular than candy!

Image: Hot Girls Vote sticker with 
a code to scan for the Sunrise Movement

MOM: I have to admit that phone banking is not my favorite type of election work, but I gave it a go today. I reached a few people, but the best part was talking to text bankers Marge and Julie and eating donuts. And then our Senate candidate Trudy Busch Valentine showed up! Always fun to spend time with the person you're volunteering for. I ended up politely taking my leave saying, "I may be your worst phone banker, but I'm going to my next shift where I'll be the best poll greeter!"

Image: Cindy and other volutneers with candidate
Trudy Busch Valentine

YARA: Sunrise Movement is hanging out by polling places at UW-Madison, spreading the word about our favorite thing - VOTE TRIPLING! When people come out of the voting booth, they feel really good, and if they text three friends in that exact moment, data shows that it's super effective in turning people out. Like, "Oh shoot, Emily's out there right now! When am I gonna do it?"

Image: Yara on a campus mall with clipboard and stickers

MOM: I'm off to my poll greeting shift now. This picture is a cheat because I haven't yet done it, but this is what poll greeting looks like! I took a picture with these nice poll volunteers this morning while I was putting up signs. I had no idea they were Trudy Busch Valentine's kids until she tweeted it out with a note that her children were helping. I'd like to be clear that I'm in no way related to the Busch nor Valentine family, but I would like her to be my senator.

Image: Tweet from candidate Trudy Busch Valentine
about her poll greeting kids with Cindy in a picture with them


MOM: Here is what poll greeting really looked like for me. Lots of smiles for my "Votes for Women" Mickey Mouse ears. One young voter came to the polls and just wanted to know who was for better health care. I loaded him up with literature my candidates at all levels of his ballot and he even got to talk to some candidates. I marvelled that there are still people who rely on those personal poll greeter interactions for their decisions. Most mid-term voters, like me, arrive with a sample ballot pre-filled out. 
Image: Cindy with another volunteer and Missouri 
State Representative candidate Melissa Greenstein

YARA: After canvassing across from UW Memorial Union, we moved over to another polling location. Mom loved my picture in front of the iconic Bascom hill that she used to sled down with her best friend on cafeteria trays in the winter. (MOM: I never could have imagined in 1992 that this photo would happen in 2022)

Image: Yara holding a clipboard in front of big
letters on Bascom Hill that say "BADGERS VOTE"

CNN says, "Dane County, WI is reporting huge turnout with long lines & calls to bring in extra poll workers. The turnout from the campus is tremendous." Could it be because Yara and the Sunrise Movement are out vote tripling? Why, I do believe so!

Image: Book cover

Buy an autographed copy of "From Changing Diapers to Changing the World: Why Moms Make Great Advocates and How to Get Started" at my website www.changyit.com or order it from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or any independent bookstore!

Advocacy Made Easy: Text Banking

Feeling anxious about elections? Don’t have a lot of time? Don't like to talk to people or have mobility issues? Sounds like you should join a text bank!

Text banking, like phone banking, is an advocacy technique employed especially during election season. True to its name, it's based on phone texts, so there is absolutely no vocal conversation between you and the voter. Last night, I joined MomsRising for their 2022 #MomsVote Texting Challenge. Why were moms gathering on Zoom to text total strangers? Because there are over 75 million registered mom voters in the U.S. If every single mom voted, we’d be well on our way to building a country that works for everyone.

Image: Ad for the MomsVote Texting Challenge

Image: Training slide saying we were texting moms
in certain states who need a friendly nudge to vote.

MomsRising, a non-partisan advocacy group taking on critical issues facing women, mothers, and families, says research shows that personalized messages are one of the most effective ways to mobilize voters. They had already directly reached millions of low frequency mom-voters via phone, social media, direct and hand-written mail. Sending mom-to-mom texts is the final layer to making sure that the growing wave of mom-voters continues to grow and is gigantic on Election Day. Volunteers had already sent two million texts this election season. We were part of the last push!

Four Facts about Text Banking 

I’d spent hours writing GOTV postcards to other moms and loved it, but been resistant to text banking because of misconceptions I held. Within minutes of the Zoom training, I felt rather silly for not trying it earlier. They quickly set four big worries to rest:

1. No one can see your phone number

MomsRising used a platform called “Impactive,” but any good text banking software generates a phone number for you. Responses back to that number run by the software, not to your personal phone.

2. You can pick a different name

If you’re worried about securing your identity, just type in a different name! I was “Erin” for the night, but by the end, I decided it didn’t really matter since they couldn’t see my phone number nor any other info.

3. You can use your computer instead of your phone

This part is important if, like me, you are of a certain age requiring reading glasses! No squinting or hunching over your phone unless you prefer to do it teen-style.

4. You don’t have to text your responses from scratch

I mistakenly thought text banking was going to involve constant typing. Nope! The platform has pre-written responses to the common questions like, “Stop sending texts” or “You have the wrong number” or “I already voted.” Most of the time, you just select the right response from the list and take them off of the list if they opted out.

How it Works

With those concerns out of the way, we moved onto the actual action. The name of a mom would appear along with pre-written text about voting information. All I had to do was click on the send button. Easy! It only took 5 minutes or less to send out 200 texts, at which point it prompted me to check the inbox.

Image: Text banking screen

Most of the time, there was no response. But every 500 or so, someone would text back with one of the common responses. The most unusual response of the night was, “I don’t like my kids. Don’t text me.” Oh no! We’ll never know what that was about, but I hope that mom has a better day tomorrow. For now, we just removed her from the list.

Image: Me smiling on the zoom screen with wine
in hand, wearing an "I Voted" sticker.

For most of the session, I found I could just tap the return key to send messages with my right hand and drink wine with my left hand. I don’t know any other election work offering THAT level of ease and comfort!

Fellow volunteer Jen Lofquist said, “I enjoy feeling like I’m reaching out to voters directly and efficiently.” I agree! I thought it was pretty cool we texted a handy link to give people their voting information. I kept envisioning some mom running around doing mom things, thinking, “Oh no! I forgot to find out where to vote tomorrow,” and then seeing my text pop up.

A Comfortable Space

In less than two hours, volunteers generated 230,000 more texts. The MomsRising text bank Zoom was exactly what I needed to settle my nervous jitters the night before Election Day: a non-partisan space to take action with a bunch of friendly, supportive moms. Text banks for other organization can more issue focused if its for a specific cause or more partisan if its for an individual candidate. I hope you find one that is comfortable and perfect for you!

Image: Book cover

Buy an autographed copy of "From Changing Diapers to Changing the World: Why Moms Make Great Advocates and How to Get Started" at my website www.changyit.com or order it from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or any independent bookstore!

Monday, October 24, 2022

World Polio Day Action for 2022

Image: Shot@Life volunteers in Uganda pose with fingers held close together
indicating how close we are to ending polio 

“We are THIS CLOSE to ending polio!”

That was the tagline for polio eradication campaigns back in 2012. Celebrities like Bill Gates smiled from airport advertisements holding fingers close together, showing a little tiny gap representing how close the world was to eradicating this terrible childhood disease from the face of the Earth. When I travelled to Uganda with the UN Foundation for the Shot@Life campaign, I got to be in a “this close” picture, too! I wondered if we would be done with polio in 10 years’ time?

Here we are in 2022, and the answer is…not quite. 

Back then, polio was still endemic in three countries. Now it’s only wild in two countries: Afghanistan and Pakistan. To show you the progress in even just the last few years, look at this graphic about Afghanistan. It shows a drop from 56 cases of polio in 2020 to only 1 case in 2022!

Image: Graphic showing a reduction of polio cases in Afghanistan since 2020

But the troubling news is that the pandemic caused us to lose some of our vaccine coverage gains. Polio popped up in places previously considered free from it. A case in Malawi was detected this year...more than five years after all of Africa was declared free of indigenous wild polio in August 2020.

Analysis showed the strain in Malawi was linked to a Pakistani strain. That was a wake up call for us to stay vigiliant in countries with no polio, so that an outbreak cannot take hold if the virus is imported via travel.

Similarly, a polio outbreak in New York City this year likely came in through international travel. We need to keep up vaccination rates to avoid pockets of unvaccinated individuals where an outbreak can take hold. As long as there are new babies born, our job of vaccinating is never done!

What can we do today?

Call Congress

Image: Graphic with the phone number to call Congress on World Polio Day, 
October 24th. The phone number is 202-902-6614.

Join Shot@Life volunteers like me across the country who are calling our senators and representatives to encourage their support of global vaccine programs! Call 202-902-6614 and ask to be connected to one of your U.S. senators or your U.S. representative to leave a message for them about global immunizations. You can use this sample script below. You can call three times, once for each senator and once for your representative!

“Hi my name is __ and I’m a constituent of Sen/Rep __. I’m calling today to talk about global childhood immunization programs and why Sen/Rep __ should support fully funding U.S. government global vaccine activities in FY23. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the suspension of vaccinations, jeopardizing decades of childhood immunization progress. This means supporting global health systems like USAID, UNICEF, Gavi, and the CDC is more important now than ever. Thank you!”

Here's a pic of my and my friends getting together to call on Zoom!

Image: Eight smiling people holding phones on 
zoom screens

Post on Social Media

Please spread the word on social media by retweeting Shot@Life or using these sample posts. You can use the hashtags, #VaccinesWork, #WorldPolioDay, or #EndPolio.

Thanks to U.S. leadership & because #VaccinesWork, polio cases have gone down 99.9% worldwide since 1988. However, recent detection of the virus in the U.S. and U.K. remind us that polio anywhere in the world is a threat everywhere. #EndPolio

Thirty years ago, polio was paralyzing 1,000 children in 125 countries every single day. Today, that number has fallen 99.9% thanks to U.S. support and the tireless efforts of frontline health workers, communities, and global partners. #WorldPolioDay

The cost of complacency is high: if we fail to eradicate polio, we could see thousands of new cases every year within a decade, costing $33 billion by the end of this century. Now is the time to #endpolio for good.

Image: Book cover

Buy an autographed copy of "From Changing Diapers to Changing the World: Why Moms Make Great Advocates and How to Get Started" at my website www.changyit.com or order it from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or any independent bookstore!