In my last post you may recall that I attempted to answer the question: “What exactly is an organizer anyway?!” I discussed two on-going campaigns against the influence of big money in politics, and I didn’t want to leave readers hanging on how those turned out.
The campaign against the Duke-Progress Energy rate hikes rages on across the state, but the main event in my field area was the Snow Hill hearing a few weeks ago. For those not familiar with Snow Hill, it’s a small town with a population under 2000 in a part of rural eastern North Carolina that has faced a lot of economic hardship.
That the utilities commission picked this out-of-the-way location as the site of the regional energy rate hike hearing made me wonder whether they expected much of a turnout. And why should they? After all, some of the preceding rate hike hearings hadn’t garnered that much public interest. To make matters worse, a major storm was rolling through the day of the hearing that put many of North Carolina’s counties under various severe weather watches and warnings.
I don’t think anyone expected the amazing folks in Snow Hill to show up they way they did. WITN’s coverage put it this way: “Standing room only at the Greene County Courthouse Tuesday night. Progress Energy customers showed up in numbers.“ This goes to show that a few public speaking trainings can go a long way! Over 50 people packed the room and about 20 testified against the rate hikes, outnumbering supporters 10 to 1.
In our clean elections campaign against the Citizens United ruling, Rocky Mount joined with Greenville and a dozen other cities across the state when their city council passed a resolution calling for a Constitutional Amendment saying corporations aren’t people and money is not speech!
These local wins may seem small, but they are actually vital to building something bigger. One goal of organizing is to recognize and build synergy between various campaigns, issues and organizing skills.
Case in point: When the state legislature announced it would hold a pubic hearing about a new photo ID bill for voters, I just happen to be able to call on a few people near Snow Hill who’ve had a lot practice with public hearings recently. Coming off their great turnout at the utilities commission public hearing, they were raring to head to Raleigh and join others from around the state to speak truth to power. With only a week’s notice about the voter ID hearing – on a workday, in the early afternoon – we were able to channel the excitement and experience from local campaigns across NC to turn people out in droves to speak against voter photo ID. Synergy.
Snow Hill Energy Rate Hike Hearing
Rocky Mount City Council Passing Anti-Citizens United Resolution
Photo ID Hearing In Raleigh