Mark Your Calendars: Fridays at Noon*

File under "Raising Hell"

One of my favorite ways to spend lunchtime each Friday: "Brunch With Bernie." 

Who is Bernie? U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is a tireless champion of universal health care and fair trade policies, who is also dedicated to undoing Citizens United and reversing global warming.

What is "Brunch With Bernie"? It is:
  • weekly, national hour-long town hall meeting with Senator Sanders, and
  • a regular feature of The Thom Hartmann Program  (an internationally syndicated progressive radio show). 
During this on-air town hall meeting, people from across the U.S. can call in to talk with Senator Sanders.

Four Reasons to brunch with Bernie:

1. It's a great way to get the skinny on national issues from someone who tells it like it is; 

2. You can get information free of Democratic and Republican Party talking points;  

3. Senator Sanders' answers to callers' questions actually answer callers' questions; and 

4. Senator Sanders regularly suggests how citizens can champion different policy issues.

* Pacific Standard Time


The Grant Writer's Sanity Saver

Filed under "Raising Money"

Fill in the blank: "It takes a village to ____________." 

If you're a grant writer, you're likely to say "complete a grant application," after which you might ask, "How does a grant writer organize the work of all of the villagers?"

Here's an example of what I mean: 

ABC Homes, a nonprofit developer of affordable housing, applies for funding to create a community garden on one of its properties. The garden ABC installed last year, on another property, was a huge success. Data collected by staff show that almost all of the property’s residents: 1) plant and tend the garden, and 2) report significantly increased access to fresh produce, significantly increased consumption of produce, and reduced food bills.

The grant writer (GW) needs help assembling the grant application, due on December 1. She asks:
  • the property manager (PM) to take pictures of the site where he plans to install the garden;
  • the tenant organizer (TO) to get two letters of support from tenants;
  • the other tenant organizer (OTO) to track down the aforementioned garden data, which somehow disappeared when ABC moved its offices last month;
  • the book keeper for ABC's most current financial statements;
  • the assistant property manager for the garden project budget;
  • etc.
She asks for these by November 28.

Fast forward:
  • November 28, 5:00 p.m.: GW notes that some coworkers have not submitted their documentation.
  • November 29, 9:00 a.m.: GW sends the offenders a reminder email, requesting documentation by the end of the day.
  • November 30: GW is home, sick with the flu. Good thing most of the application is done; all that remains to do is attach the attachments and click on "send" (on the electronic application).
  • December 1:
    • 8:00 a.m.: GW, looking a bit wan, is the first person in the office. She checks her email for PM's photos. No email. Decides to retrieve agency camera from PM's desk and upload photos herself. PM's desk is locked. The spare desk key has been lost in last month's move. GW decides to ambush PM as soon as he gets in and demand photos before he does anything else. Then she learns that he has left for a week-long meditattion retreat in the Himalayas.
    • 8:20 a.m.: GW finds the tenants' letters of support in her mailbox. While the tenants say supportive things about ABC in the letter, they say nothing about the proposed garden. In fact, the tenants who wrote the letters don't live on either the property with the existing garden or the property where the second one will be created.
    • 9:03 a.m. GW asks the other tenant organizer for the garden data.
      • OTO: "What stats? You never asked me for stats."
      • GW: "I did! I even sent you a reminder email. It said 'Friendly Reminder' in the subject line."
      • OTO: "You've sent three 'friendly reminders' this week. The first two asked people what they were bringing to the potluck. I didn't open the third since I'd already told you hummus and chips."
Suffice to say that GW left work at the end of the day looking considerably more wan than she did at the beginning.

The Grant Writer's Sanity Saver is a tool that can help grant seekers avoid these kinds of situations. It is a work plan template that helps:
  • the grant writer to clearly communicate who is responsible for which jobs and what each job entails;
  • the grant writer to make sure that all jobs get assigned; and
  • everyone else involved to understand what is expected of them.
How to use it:      
  • Step 1: Grant writer completes as much of the tool as possible.
  • Step 2: With the executive director's help, the grant writer calls a meeting of all people whose help s/he needs. (Call a meeting. Don't rely on sending an email or talking to people individually. You can't reliably do Step 3 effectively without a meeting. Trust me.) Hold this meeting as early in the grant- writing process as possible. (Give the OTO enough time to wade through all of the yet-unpacked boxes that were stacked in the office storage room on the day after the move.)
  • Step 3: All present discuss the work plan. (Is it doable? Can it be improved? What problems might arise?) They amend it and agree to the final version.
  • Step 4: By date set at the group's meeting, GW makes changes and emails the finalized document to all involved, who reply in writing that they have received it and agree to their assignments.

Here's an example of the application of the Sanity Saver, using the example above.

Grant Writer's Sanity Saver

Prospective Funder:
Application Due Date:
Decoy Due Date (This is your organization's internal target completion date: It reminds you to schedule each task to allow for unexpected delays.)

Who Does It
What is the deliverable? How many?To whom delivered? How?
Photos of garden site
4 photos of future garden site & 4 of existing garden, as attachments, emailed to GW

Tenants' support letters
1 letter from tenant who uses existing garden on how s/he has benefited, & 1 letter from tenant of apt./ site of future garden on why tenants want a 2nd garden

Data on first garden's benefits to tenants
...you get the idea ...

and so on...

The "Status" column is useful if the grant writer calls more than one meeting. It can give you an opportunity to identify problems with the plan's execution - in time to do something about it.

If you have other sanity savers for grant writers, I'd love to hear about them.


Why Help Wisconsinites Get the Word Out, Get the Vote Out, and Get Scott Walker Out (and How to Do It)

For many progressives, Wisconsinites' grassroots efforts to recall Governor Scott Walker are the most promising expressions of democracy we have seen in a long, long time.

And now?

The race for governor is a dead heat even though Walker has used money from out-of-state donors with very deep pockets to barrage Wisconsin with campaign ads.

What happens if Scott Walker defeats recall efforts? 

Will a Walker victory embolden other far-right extremist governors to follow Walker's "lead" in making life harder for women and working people? And by "lead," I mean these things that Walker did (the list below is only a sampling): 
Why Help Tom Barrett Win

If Walker wins, will he use his role as governor to swing Wisconsin to Romney's camp in November? And will a Wisconsin win make winning the presidential campaign easier - a lot easier - for Romney?

What You Can Do to Help Tom Barrett Win

1. Counter the massive misinformation campaign that Walker’s supporters have mounted. Share information about Walker's record with your friends, family, and other contacts in Wisconsin. There are lots of ways to do this. Some ideas:
  • Tweet
  • Text
  • Blog 
  • Comment on someone else’s blog post
  • Send an email
  • Put a reminder to vote (or to remind folks to remind their WI contacts) to vote in your email signature line
  • Insert a link in an email, signature line, or …
  • Forward/email an article about Walker
  • Post a message on your Facebook page
  • Have a face-to-face chat
  • Pick up the phone
2. Get Out the Vote

Remind Urge, implore, exhort (see above list for ideas about how) your Wisconsin friends, et. al to:
  • Vote;
  • Volunteer to make phone get-out-the-phone (GOTV) calls. Can’t get to a campaign office? Ask Barrett’s campaign if/how you can make GOTV calls from home. To find the phone number of the nearest campaign office, visit Tom Barrett’s website;
  • Report any polling place problems (i.e. long lines); for information about how to make a report, visit Defend Wisconsin;
  • Offer to drive folks to the polls;
  • Volunteer to be a poll watcher (election observer).

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A Plea To Seattle-ites: Help Our Friends in Wisconsin, Pt. 1

Here's the Background: In a day and a half, Wisconsin voters go to the polls. One of the votes they cast will be for governor. Their current governor, Scott Walker, faces recall due to his efforts to destroy unions, one of the few remaining vestiges of this nation's former small "d" democracy. The race is tight. Walker's challenger, Tom Barrett, does not have the same kind of deep-pocket-donors as Walker. 

Here's the Plea:

From the halls malls of Montezuma Westwood and Northgate
To Smith’s floors of office suites,
We can help Wisconsin’s citizens
Hand Scott Walker a defeat.

Urge your contacts in the Badger State
To get their butts to the polls.
Don’t let Walker’s crowd turn our nation
Into 50 hell holes.

Ask folks to get the truth out using
Papers, blogs, and old-school talk,
Drive folks to polls, offer to poll watch,
Get him out – Walker must walk.

For information about the Wisconsin recall drama and how Wisconsin's June 5th election results could affect you, check out John Nichols' excellent blog.

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