By Sarah Meaney
The We the People Summit was created to unite people from all levels of political involvement and areas of the state in one place for one day of learning and activism. Organizers collected panels of experts to educate the public on a multitude of topics from creating sustainable organizations to the history of social and political movements. It was to be a day of impact.
Walking into the convention center, past the line forming at the door, I could see tables covered with name tags for the nearly 1,500 people in attendance. I grabbed my lanyard and name tag and headed to the AZ Blue 2020 tent. There was the team in matching blue shirts, displaying our new PC video under the big blue tent.
Shortly after I arrived, the slow and steady stream of people began. They grabbed coffee and milled about in a dull roar of conversation. Many of the people who passed were familiar allies, but the number of new faces was what had us most excited.
I began stickering people and striking up conversations. There were people from Yuma, Lake Havasu, the Democratic Party, the Green Party, current legislators and candidates. People came from all over the state with all different backgrounds.
In between stickering, I stopped at the Progressive Voices podcast table and chatted with Scott and Cara. While there, Athena Salman talked about her experience as a first year representative.
The corridor emptied as the first sessions began. I attended a session with OFA and got some valuable tips for sustaining a group’s members and creating consistent messaging.
Back in the corridor, I continued stickering and promoting visits to the AZ Blue 2020 tent. I stopped by the Save Our Schools Arizona table to talk to fellow volunteers and was asked by Dawn, head of communications, to film a short tutorial about why I support SOSAZ and the SB1431 referendum. That was an easy ‘yes’. I changed my shirt, the SOSAZ tee folded and packed in my backpack, alongside camera equipment and lots of business cards. After the video tutorial, some people stopped me to crack jokes about the ‘uniform’ change. I changed shirts a couple more times that day.
At the next forum, I learned about 501(c)¾ organizations and the tax rules associated with each designation. Fun stuff. After learning how to avoid tax evasion charges, I attended the Leaders’ Lunch. The founding members of many groups were in attendance. The creator of ResistBot spoke, along with AZ Resist and SOSAZ members.
I skipped the afternoon sessions to rejoin the AZ Blue 2020 team back at our blue tent. We received lots of traffic. Jodi signed up six new precinct committeepersons and a number of attendees signed up for our newsletter. We had many groups interested in scheduling AZ Blue 2020 for presentations and even secured a spot on a future Zod and Drea podcast.
Before the last session was over, the AZ Blue 2020 tent was visited by Deedra Abboud, as well as CD8 Candidate, Brianna Westbrook. Ms. Westbrook recorded us live on Periscope while Tricia Sauer interviewed.
When the final session of the day ended and the last bit of traffic filtered out of the corridor, our team packed up and headed to dinner. We stopped at my favorite downtown spot, Carly’s on Roosevelt. We ate, drank and shared our experiences from the day. It really was a day of impact.