In July, RHAP’s National Organizer, Laura Riker, and Organizer, Hailey Broughton-Jones, headed to Philadelphia for Netroots Nation 2019. Netroots Nation is one of the largest conventions dedicated to activism and social justice for the progressive movement. We were excited to dive into training sessions and focus on building our campaign and organizing skills. The conference is also well known for its keynote panels. This year, they featured Democratic presidential candidates and prominent legislators (like members of The Squad!) We were able to hear from Senator Elizabeth Warren, Representative Ilhan Omar, and Representative Ayanna Pressley, former HUD Secretary Julián Castro, among other progressive political leaders.
But beyond glossy pamphlets and big-name keynotes, we saw firsthand the power of grassroots organizing across social justice movements. Local activists in Philly, building upon the protests and mobilizing efforts of activists in New Orleans (where Netroots Nation 2018 was hosted), demanded a seat at the table. Philadelphia-based organizers pushed Netroots Nations to include more panels featuring local activists and highlighting the work of queer, black, brown, and indigenous people. It was energizing learning about various organizing tactics during workshops and seeing these tactics implemented in real-time throughout the conference.
There were hundreds of panels, lectures, and training sessions. This included how to magnify campaigns efforts across digital platforms and organizing tools imperative to sustaining national coalitions, skills we will use as we grow and sustain the Reproductive Health Access Network. We thought critically about how to maintain engagement, reach new audiences through social media, and support active members to magnify mobilization efforts. We learned the importance of offering our supporters a defined “ladder” of actions that require different levels of commitment, in order to build our activist base and allow people to get involved at whatever level they can- whether that be signing a petition, donating, or hosting a meeting or house party. We envisioned growing our professional development opportunities for our Network Leaders. We brainstormed mini-campaigns to serve as an advertising platform for our Network and the incredible work our members do on a daily basis. We left Philly inspired and energized. We look forward to implementing key take-aways from the conference – and we look forward to Netroots Nation 2020!