Co-President’s Message - August 2019
Traditionally the League slows down over the summer before kicking off our program of work each fall. So much for tradition: it’s been another busy summer as members continued to work on our core programs for voter registration, engagement, and education. Voter registration efforts in underserved areas and among youth have been particularly successful to-date thanks to the efforts of many volunteers, led and coordinated by Cam Kerst. Once again, Helen Campbell and our talented Voter Services team organized primary election forums and all were well-attended by League members and the public. At short notice, we were able to co-host an additional forum with the Lynden Tribune, focusing on the primary candidates for Lynden City Council. The Voter Services team is now planning for the four general election forums we will be hosting this fall in Lynden, Ferndale, and Bellingham. The high level of interest in running for local elected offices this year is exciting and a good sign for local democracy. In addition, we’ve seen widespread appreciation for the League’s nonpartisanship and commitment to civil discourse that are always in evidence at our election forums.
At our February 2018 Program Planning meeting, members agreed that we should review our League positions using a racial equity lens to see how well the positions reflect the rapidly changing national dialogue about equity, diversity, and inclusion. Since then, our Racial Equity/Healthy Democracy group has been working on just such a review of our League’s current position on Women’s Economic Security (WES). At our membership meeting on September 21, 2019, we will consider proposed revisions to the WES position, based on the review team’s work. Team leader Kay Ingram writes:
“While the substance of the WES position statement correctly identified the major elements critical to addressing the ability of women in Whatcom County to achieve economic security, it clearly needed to be more explicit…in recognizing how the effects of racial inequity and lack of inclusivity can compound the difficulties that women face…We reached into the community to seek different voices, different stories, and opinions. Fortunately, as a result, younger women and women of color have joined us in our work. Their contributions have enriched our conversations, our discussions, and our research.”
And what of the future? Our League is changing, and the environment in which we do our work is changing too. Our local League continues its steady growth in membership. A changing membership means that strategies which may have worked for us in the past must be reviewed and possibly modified or retooled for the journey forward. This includes, among other things, how we schedule and run meetings, how we communicate with members, and how we manage our volunteer programs to accommodate our members’ interests and concerns. New volunteers are often looking for focused and meaningful activities that move the needle measurably on issues about which they care passionately. In June, we held a workshop for our board and leadership on managing volunteers, presented by non-profit consultant Virginia Lang. We gained valuable insights and best practices that we plan to incorporate into our League management toolbox.
We are not alone in considering the path forward on the League’s transformation journey. Outgoing LWV Seattle-King County President Stephanie Cirkovich has written a thoughtful article in the summer 2019 newsletter of their League, entitled “Reflecting on Our Future”. She notes that the Seattle-King County League is “moving away from an organizational model that focuses on slow, deliberative studies and discussion toward a model that is more immediate and action-oriented,” and that while they understand the need to be “both methodical and quick to act when necessary,” they have to prioritize carefully in order to make the best use of their members’ energy and time.
There is much to do, and like other Leagues, we must manage our energy and our resources - primarily people and time - carefully to make sure we remain effective and relevant through our next hundred years.
Please join us at the membership meeting on September 21 to find out more about the programs for the coming year and sign up for some of our many activities, both serious and celebratory!
Yours in League,
Heather MacKay Brown
Subscribe to The Voter
September 2019 Kick off meeting, In-depth Discussion of WES Position Revisions
August 2019 Transformation Journey at the Local Level
July 2019 State Convention, Voter Forums, Paddle to Lummi, & More
June 2019 Annual Meeting Highlights, Voter Service, 2020 Celebration & More
April 2019 Programs, Annual Meeting, 2020 Celebration & Much More
March 2019 Programs, Lobby, Day, TRY Thanks, and League News
February 2019 2020 Census, Carrie Chapman Catt, & Much More
January 2019 Program Planning, Lobbying for League Issues & Redistricting
December 2018 Taking Stock & Celebrating 2018 Accomplishments
November 2018 Immigration Issues & Educational Forum
October 2018 Fall Forums & Getting Out the Vote
September 2018 Membership Meetings & More
July 2018 Educating Voters
June 2018 Empowering Voters & Defending Democracy
May 2018 Annual Meeting, Registration, Advocacy Work
April 2018 Voting is the Heart of Democracy
February 2018 Making Our Voices Heard
January 2018 League Seeks Leadership Nominations & More