Recently, a woman told me that she didn’t believe that our canvassing work helped us to win campaigns. Still, she signed her name on a support statement that encourages the Environmental Protection Agency to adopt stronger standards on new and existing fossil fuel burning power plants. She remembered a canvasser coming to her door last year, but didn’t know what had happened with last year’s campaign.
Without hesitation, I told her that community organizing does work, and that it started with her. In my next breath, I gave a synopsis of our Connecticut victories since we had last knocked on her door. As I explained how CCE helped the EPA to adopt stronger mercury standards on fossil fuel burning power plants, kept a ban on toxic pesticides at K-8 schools in CT in place, and passed a Sewage Right to Know law; I watched her face light up. Her reply was simple, somewhat anticipated and what makes CCE as successful as we are: “So, when we get involved, we win!” My heart jumped a little; after all, canvassers love to hear this stuff!
Community members allow our organization to thrive. Even after organizing for years, to me, it’s still remarkable how many people understand that each and every day. She gets it and she gets involved: a signature, a contribution, and letters- letters to her elected representatives on an issue that they vote on. Democracy works when people participate.
Before I started working at CCE, I remember looking at corporate giants and their then-seemingly insurmountable power. Government, Big Oil & Gas and National Banks controlled everything and if we didn’t want any trouble, the public had better keep quiet and go with the flow. I came to CCE because I needed to be part of something bigger than me, something that was fighting for the greater good- and winning.
When you send positive, talented, passionate individuals into a community to educate the public, that community becomes empowered. No one ever wants to stand alone on an issue (I’ve even seen people hesitate to be the first to sign a petition) and it’s scary to ponder if you’re the only one who doesn’t use pesticides, opposes fracking or believes climate change exists. But you’re not. Your community, your county, your state is able to come together and agree on a problem and, more importantly, a solution. Over 80,000 members stand in solidarity as we represent your values in Hartford, Albany, D.C. and anywhere else necessary. And we win. There are a lot of problems out there, many of which impact our health and our environment. At CCE, we find tangible solutions and navigate to our victory. You are why we win. You are why we’ve been tackling difficult issues for 27 years. You are why we’ll be around for (at least) 27 more.
So, the next time you wonder if we stand a chance against corporate greed, look at our track record. We’ve been winning campaigns all along and we’ll keep doing it, because you care. Because you, like some many people that I talk to at their door, know that when you get involved, we all win.