Plucking the Progressive Prairies
August 13, 2008 4:11 PM   Subscribe

What are some books or other resources that can help me become a better political organizer in rural areas?

I'm working in three very rural counties right now and am facing new challenges as a result. I'd like to get some info on how I can be a better organizer in these areas and how I can get folks involved who live 2 hours from my office.

I do a lot of traveling to meet up with people, but i want to make the most of my trips and find the best places for recruiting volunteers.

And although I'm asking for books and resources, I'm also glad to hear any tips you guys might have as well if you have experience in the field.
posted by abkadefgee to Law & Government (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Can't comment as to books, but when I worked on a political campaign in the rural Midwest, these are some things that helped me:

1) Get a wireless broadband access card, like Verizon's. (See if you can get your campaign to pay for it.) You'd be surprised how much more productive you can be if you have Internet access anywhere, anytime, and can have a mobile office in your car.

2) Find coffee shops/diners in towns you work in and frequent them. You have to eat, and as you become friendly with the waiters/owners/patrons, you will get a real sense of the area and probably make some good friends who will do you a solid at some point. Bonus: you'll probably get some free pie.

3) Visibility actually matters. Get your signs/stickers/chum out there. If you can find any sympathetic farmers or ranchers whose property touches major local roads, put out some signs.
posted by j1950 at 4:52 PM on August 13, 2008

There might be some resources on the Stand Up for Rural America site that are of use... it's focused on rural community development (basically a network of community development organizations working in rural places) but might have some things of interest for you.
posted by yarrow at 6:36 AM on August 14, 2008

For inspiration about organizing, I'd suggest How the Rural Poor Got Power by Paul Wellstone. It is certainly more about community organizing (versus political organizing), but I find myself turning back to it from time to time. I recommend Politics the Wellstone Way to everyone who works in the political organizing world, and the good folks at Wellstone Action have just put out a new book, Winning Your Election the Wellstone Way, that is bound to be good.

As a practical matter, when I set up a day full of 1:1s, I usually try to start as far away as possible and work my way back home. Starting the morning with a long drive, a strong cup of coffee, some NPR or good music gets me ready for my first meeting, and knowing that I'm progressing home keeps me energized at the end of the day.

Finally- if you can set up 1:1s with union folks (from other organizers to shop stewards), I've found that they've been helpful suggesting leadership candidates and volunteers.
posted by elmer benson at 8:24 AM on August 14, 2008

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