In the Spring of 2017, I was asked by my old college classmate (at this college ) Katie Fahey if I could design a field program that could collect over 400,000 signatures to end gerrymandering in Michigan, and do it by leveraging 5,000 Michiganders who came together in response to a Facebook post she had made right after the 2016 election saying:
I’d like to take on gerrymandering in Michigan, if you’re interested in doing this as well, please let me know 🙂
The program Katie entrusted me to build ended up breaking records by delivering over 440,000 signatures in 110 days with a validity rate of 86% and with 99.96% of the signatures accounted for in our custom database. All with just the help of volunteers. Katie and other staff we brought on board after handing in our petitions to the state leveraged this into over $16 million in donations, making us the biggest campaign in the state in 2018. We went from expecting DeVos backed opposition to outspend us at least 4-to-1 to outspending them almost 5-to-1, and winning with more than 60% of the vote.
We developed some very effective and innovative strategies and tactics for leveraging a decentralized army of mostly recently retired women that made up the majority of our volunteers. Using Facebook as a real-time wiki and continual training reinforcement, integrating training into the volunteer ladder, and deploying incentives like a head-shaving challenge I pseudo-regretted making based on mitigating projected signature return decay. We essentially used social media to weaponize hope and fun to defend our basic democratic institutions and values.
While we were running our campaign, we were followed by a camera crew from Ark Media, who in turn produced a documentary titled Slay the Dragon. It is being distributed by Participant Media and Magnolia Films, who also distributed the RBG documentary and post-apocalyptic French parkour movie District B-13. It will be in theaters everywhere on March 13.
Looking back now, I am thrilled to have been such a key part early on, and to have a recorded history of it but my biggest desire is to get our tactics, strategy, and way of looking at data into the hands of activists in other states who can use them to defend the building blocks of democracy closest to them!
With that, I will start answering questions at 4 P.M.
Ask me anything!
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