Yesterday Julia and I opened our doors for the first meeting of our local chapter of Solidarity Sundays. Solidarity Sundays started as Suffragette Sundays in the Bay Area. It was a local activist meet-up led by Kate Schatz (author of Rad American Women) and Leslie Van Every. This fall, the group expanded nationwide and renamed to embrace a wider agenda of community activism, dealing with everything from general political issues and social concerns to the environment, LGBTQ+ rights and helping with food/hunger concerns. When we saw they were looking for new groups, we immediately opened our doors and were excited to have a chance to welcome new people into our home for a good cause.
I’ve written about so many different entertaining themes here at D*S, but I thought it would be fun to share the details of how we organized our event in case anyone else wants to try something similar in their home. You don’t need a lot of space, time or money to make a BIG difference in your area, so if you want to connect with local people and support those in need, this is a great way to do that — and indulge in some entertaining fun. Below I’ve shared details for putting this event together at your house and some recipe ideas for keeping everyone snacking while they write letters and make calls. xo, grace
YOUR FIRST MEETING:
To get started, make a list of people you’d like to invite and contact them via email. I started this way so we didn’t “overbook” our space. Then when we had an idea of how many people we were starting with, I extended the invite to people in my personal social media network and a few activist groups I belong to in my immediate area. I knew I wanted room for everyone to sit around the table, so we capped the group at around 15 people.
For our first meeting, our goal was to get acquainted with everyone and hear what their biggest concerns were, locally. I took notes and encouraged people to keep sharing their concerns and ideas while we took part in a letter-writing campaign. Great ideas and resources kept coming up as we worked, so I saved them all for our first follow-up email.
Since we hadn’t decided on a theme for this meet-up, we wrote to a wide range of local groups, from local politicians that we wanted to thank for their inclusive policies to women’s shelters and LGBTQ+ centers and our area’s local Islamic centers. We wrote them hand-written notes of support and to let them know how much we appreciate their work and being a part of our community.
When we had filled all 90 of the notecards I provided, we collected names and emails.
This is when you decide how to keep your group going in a way that works best for YOUR community.
I created a Google Form that asked people:
- How often to you want to meet?
- What time of day do you want to meet?
- What issue do you want to focus on next?
- If you’d like us to include a book or articles as part of our conversation each meeting, what would you suggest we read?
With this information we’ll decide our next group action and how our group will shape up.
We plan on getting the word out via our original group of attendees and by spreading the word through local activist groups again. We don’t want the group to get too large too quickly, so we can maintain good connections with people and make sure everyone has time to talk and share their point of view.
We’ll choose one issue to focus on and will plan on either a phone bank or letter-writing campaign to start. So I’ll be asking people to bring:
- 10 Stamps
- 10 Notecards/Envelopes
- A friend (that way we can grow slowly and steadily and get some extra help!)
We’ll make coffee and tea, but I like making clean-eating (ie: no sticky, drippy sauces) snacks that people can enjoy while writing, without staining their letters.
Here’s what I’ll be making next time:
Derek & Lauren’s Granola! Easy and quick to make and snack on — with no messy fingers to hamper letter-writing.
Catherine and Tricia’s Oat Seed Bars: Great to take on-the-go if you’re doing a volunteer session outside of your home.
Heather’s Banana Bread: My favorite treat ever (toss in some chocolate chips and I’m in heaven) and it’s easy to pocket on a group outing or just slice up and pass around the table while people write and talk.
Klancy’s Double Chocolate Cookies: Chocolate makes any event happier.
Keavy and Allison’s Caramel Popcorn: Good on-the-go or at the table, this snack is always a favorite of mine.