When we were invited to attend Planned Parenthood Generation Action’s 2014 Power Tour, none of us were sure what to expect. We hoped it wouldn’t be like other leadership conferences, with their awkward ice breakers and long presentations.
The Power Tour completely exceeded whatever expectations we had, and it was so inspiring and refreshing to be surrounded by passionate and like-minded people for the weekend. Designed as a crash course in organizing theory and application, the Power Tour welcomed 200 college students from across the Midwest to prepare them for campus action this fall. But we left the conference with skills and tools that will be applicable in our lives far beyond next semester.
We spent the first day talking about the stories behind our passion for reproductive justice. It wasn’t meant to be an icebreaker activity — we were figuring out how to use our personal stories to better connect with people we talk with in our work — but sharing our experiences did break the ice. By the evening everyone was laughing and joking together. That night, we were able to hear Will Guzzardi, a young man running for State Representative in Illinois, speak about the power of grassroots organizing and what brought him to this point in his life. The high point of the day came later that evening when we heard from the incredible spoken word artist Staceyann Chin.
The real work began on the second day, as we heard presentations on everything from engaging potential volunteers to building strong leadership to creating plans of action on our campuses.
We spent a good portion of time learning about and discussing intersectionality. Each group chose a problem in their community or on their college campus and created a tree diagram that broke it down. The leaves were the effects that the issue has, the trunk represented ways in which that problem is institutionalized, and the roots were (surprise!) the root of the problem. We found that many of the specific issues that all of our groups were dealing with stem from the same roots. Many of the injustices that we face today come from a long history of oppression. We can’t ignore this history, but instead of being crippled by our anger we can take action against the ways that this oppression continues today. Learning about intersectionality helps us to see the ways that our own efforts to fight injustice are connected with others’.
On our final day of three, we were able to put what we learned about strategy into action. We drew up plans for the fall. We made a strategy chart detailing how we are going to bring what we learned on the Power Tour to our college campuses. By then, the four of us had decided on our mission: running a serious get-out-the-vote campaign on the University of Minnesota and Augsburg campuses to increase student voter registration and awareness of local politics. We left the Power Tour knowing how we need to prepare over the summer, and the steps we’ll take in the fall to make our campaign happen. Besides that, we became closer in the three days we spent together and are now ready and excited to begin working as a team.
In the fall, we’ll take UMN and Augsburg by storm! Stay tuned!
MADDIE M., KATIE B., LAUREN C., NATALIE G., FALL PATH TO POWER INTERNS