To no one's surprise, 2020 is off to a busy start when it comes to politics, legislation, and fighting for what we care about. Engaging in advocacy can seem intimidating, but there are easy ways to build your advocacy acumen and support causes, issues, and individuals you believe in.
The simplest, fastest way to engage and advocate is to vote. And lucky for you, we have a presidential primary on March 3! Minnesota has finally moved to a primary system for presidential election years and we are now part of Super Tuesday. Find your polling place here and remember, you can register same-day in Minnesota so there's no excuse not to find time to vote!
#2 Work on a campaign
Campaigns are always looking for help and volunteering your time to a candidate you believe in is a great way to contribute to the future you want to see. In Minnesota, we have a ton of races going on at municipal and state levels -- in fact, every House and Senate seat is up in November! MinnPost is doing a fantastic job tracking who's running everywhere -- check out their list and see where you'd like to lend support. There are usually plentiful options to help with door-knocking, phone-banking, event organizing, fundraising, communications support, and more.
#3 Support the census
As mandated in the Constitution, every 10 years we conduct a national census to determine representation, financial support, and see how our country is growing. April 1, 2020 will kickoff the 2020 census and it's a big deal for all of us. Minnesota's doing a great job mobilizing around the census (learn more about that here) and you can help by:
Being a census advocate and encouraging your friends, family, and neighbors to fill it out
Helping people understand the importance of the census (it will determine if we keep our same number of electoral votes and Congressional seats, not to mention determine how much money we get in federal assistance -- MN gets $15 billion/year currently!)
Helping people understand they don't have to fear the census -- there is no citizenship question and, by law, the Census Bureau cannot release any identifiable information about you, your home, or your business, even to law enforcement agencies.
#4 Join an organization, board, or commission
In big election years like this one, many nonprofits and government agencies ramp up their work. There are a lot of options (some call MN the Land of 10,000 Nonprofits for good reason), but here are some ways to evaluate your options:
Check out the Secretary of State's website for openings on boards, commissions, and task forces.
Visit your city or county's websites for open positions they may have open as well. Here are Minneapolis' openings for example. Your neighborhood may also have a group you can join. As they say, government is local, so looking close to home is a great way to get started.
Ask Google for help. I once joined an organization (and later became its board chair) based on a Google search in which I was looking for volunteer opportunities near me. Google what you care about and see what pops up.
Whatever you do, know that you can make a difference. Whether you do one night of phone-banking for your House candidate's campaign or join a multi-year commission, your advocacy efforts are important.