About 40 Stanford students gathered yesterday to attend the first of two days of community organizer training, as part of “Campus Camp Wellstone“.
“Campus Camp Wellstone is not your average political training,” read the intro sheet, “We’re not going to tell you who to vote for, or how you should feel about any particular issues… we’re here [to] teach you the skills you need to become effective organizers on your campuses and in your communities… you’ll know how to create an effective message, communicate that message… develop a strategic plan for action, recruit members and volunteers, build organizational coalitions and develop the next generation of progressive leaders.”
Sponsored by the ASSU Speakers Bureau, the ASSU Community Collaboration fund, and a host of on-campus VSOs (voluntary student org) such as the Emma Goldman Society for Queer Liberation, EPA Youth Court, Haas Center, MECHa, SPEACK, STOP, QSA, the training attracted a wide range of student leaders and organizers, focused on hot topics of the day such as the Environment, Education reform, LGBT rights, and food justice, to name a few.
Camp Wellstone is based on the framework used by Senator Paul Wellstone in his teachings, called the Wellstone Triangle: electoral, grassroots organizing, and public policy. To succeed, Wellstone argues, requires an organizational commitment to all three sides of the triangle, whereas many student and youth organizers mainly focus on the first two sides.
Continuing on, trainers Seiji Carpenter, Tanzila “Taz” Ahmed, and Andrea Cooper spoke about Power, on the nested levels of personal, collective, and institutional power, and urged students that “the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
On a more concrete skills level, students explored their relationships to leadership styles, composed action-oriented, targeted messaging, and practiced the art of having intentional conversations. As Stanford students, we are often subjected to impersonal e-blasts telling us to join this rally or attend this meeting, whereas we were reminded that “strong relationships are the basis for effective organizing”.
The second and final day of training took place at the Haas center for public service, a resource that few Stanford students know much about save for the knowledge that one can “make buttons” there. Interested in leadership? Check out the Haas center website on Leadership Programs. At the Wellstone training, students learned about recruiting and developing leaders within student organizations.
And while we’re on the topic of leaders, shout out to the amazing organizers Ariana Koblitz and Laura Wadden, as well as Haas center program director Amanda Itliong for putting in a lot of work to make this event really take off!