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Joining the Conversation

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Two weeks ago, I was sitting in a large hall receiving a crash-course in community organizing as part of the OFA Field Organizer Academy. As soon as the training ended, I jumped onto a phone bank in the back room with a group of Los Angeles organizers, and it’s been non-stop practice and training every day since. I've made hundreds of calls, spoken face-to-face with scores of supporters, and traveled to Nevada to ensure that voters in that state stay involved in the democratic process.

The basic principles emphasized at the Field Organizer Academy seemed simple enough – passion, energy, humility – but putting those principles to work for the President over the phone and in the field is a lot more complicated, and, surprisingly, a more personal process than I expected. As I have spoken with voters in California and Nevada I have realized that in addition to telling the President’s story, I also have to tell my own. If I can believe in my ability to make America a better place as strongly as I believe in the President’s record in doing just that, I know that I can contribute to OFA one conversation at a time.

One story from the last week sticks out in my mind: A man waiting for his wife outside a supermarket had moved to a new address and needed to re-register to vote. He spoke only Spanish, and though my Spanish was a bit rusty, we managed to communicate well enough to fill out the form. He returned to his spot across the street to wait for his wife, but a few minutes later he approached me again. He wanted to talk. Even though we struggled at times to understand each other, this man wanted to have a discussion about the economy, the Middle East and the President’s progress. Clarification soon became conversation and I am confident we both understood each other’s viewpoints much better despite the linguistic asymmetry.

Voters across this country want to have similar conversations. Whether I’m calling voters, speaking to a potential volunteer in a one-on-one meeting, or strategizing and learning with other organizers, the principles taught at the Field Organizer Academy hold true: a passionate, energetic individual who represents the President with open-eared humility will often find voters willing to continue their support for the President.

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