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Office opening of the week: North Minneapolis

Last weekend was a big one for volunteers and staff in North Minneapolis. In the midst of a busy weekend of action marking 100 days out from Election Day, nearly 150 neighbors celebrated the opening of a new field office.

Field Organizer Theresa Nix and Regional Field Director Lou Pieh recap the event.

“It was a great celebration with people from all different backgrounds, and there was a sense that people are really reaching beyond their own vote into their other spheres of influence to re-elect our President and turn people out to the polls.”

“It was a really cool office opening—I’ve been a part of several of them. I thought the energy was really high and the people were really committed. Even some of the more active volunteers who’ve been around a long time, they sometimes hit that wall and feel a little burned out. But on Sunday everyone was a little rejuvenated and pumped up. It just reaffirmed our commitment to this campaign, and that’s what we need to do moving forward.

“I definitely think it showed that people are committed and engaged in this election. We have folks from a variety of different abilities and activity levels. Some of them have never been involved in campaigns, and some are veterans. But it was clear that we’re all fighting for the same cause, and we’re committed to doing the work we need to do to have a meaningful and winning experience come November.”

“I talked to a lot of people who were impressed by the look of the office, and I heard them say they want to get involved. I know we had a whole group of seniors who said they want to do daytime phone banks, and others said they want to be neighborhood team members. I saw some authentic connections happen—people who knew each other from the past, meeting again and saying, ‘Oh, I didn’t know you were involved with this, too!’

“Our office is beautiful. When you walk in, there’s the large mural that greets you, along with one of our volunteers, Gwen. She has such a warm heart and she really gets people excited. She can get more voter registration and commit-to-vote cards than anybody I’ve met. She’s a firecracker. We also have a signature wall so volunteers can come in and leave their stamp on the office by signing it. We have a place to recognize people who knocked 100 doors or made 100 calls for 100 days out. And we have a very diverse staff with about 20 people in the office at most times.”

“This part of Minneapolis has a really strong spirit. People are willing to fight for this area, and they really identify with their area. That’s very present in our volunteers, a really strong ownership of their neighborhood and what’s happening there. They want to see North Minneapolis improve just like they want to see the country improve.

“There are a lot of folks around here who voted in 2008, but not 2010. So we’ll be knocking on doors, having conversations, and getting those people to sign pledge-to-vote cards. And that’s really our bread and butter from a grassroots standpoint.

“True to our culture, we’re also having lots of fun. Theresa is known for injecting energy into everything she does, even doing a little dance sometimes. We want to increase voter contact, but in way that’s fun and keeps people coming back.”

“They call me T-Nix. When there’s work to be done, I do work. But I also try not to take myself too seriously. It puts others at ease, just being myself. But I get excited for every victory, and that excitement gets others excited and spreads like wildfire. I’ve got people saying: ‘Work it out on the phone, then turn ‘em out on the doors.’ It’s kind of like an updated version of ‘Fired up, ready to go’—‘Work it out, turn ‘em out.’

“I just think that our enthusiasm is catching fire in Minneapolis, and it shows on the faces of our volunteers and by the work they’re doing.”

Want to catch volunteer fever in your neighborhood? Sign up to join President Obama’s grassroots team today.

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