I’m new to Unitarian Universalism.
Though I am now a member of both First UU Society of San Francisco and of the phone bank squad of UU the Vote, the democracy initiative within our faith’s public advocacy campaign, Side with Love, I didn’t join either until June of 2020. At the time, I was incredibly upset, sitting in California, having watched the previous four years, and saying to myself: this election, I cannot simply sit here in California and do nothing.
"I came because I was angry, and I wanted to do something, and I wanted somebody to teach me how because I didn’t have a clue."
I had never done a lick of activist work and had no idea what it would involve. I joined Unitarian Universalism not necessarily in search of spirituality, love, or compassion—I came because I was angry, and I wanted to do something, and I wanted somebody to teach me how because I didn’t have a clue. I jumped in and eventually connected with the amazing Rev. Cathy Rion Starr, who was organizing UU the Vote volunteer squads. With the support of my fellow volunteers, I phone banked, hosted Zoom meetings, and helped with recruiting and training as we neared the 2020 election.
Early on, Rev. Cathy told us we were like honeybees: one honeybee throughout its entire lifetime will make one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey, but thousands together make gallons. I still have my honeybee poster on the wall to remind me.
This is hard work. JaZahn Hicks, UU the Vote’s 2022 campaign manager, told us, “If you’re not getting turned down more than half the time, you’re not calling enough.” So, a live conversation can be a precious opportunity.
And sometimes you have the conversations that go:
I’m not sure if I’m registered to vote.
May I check for you?
Yes, you can.
Well, I don’t see you here.
How do I get registered?
Let me help you.
At the end of that call, the honeybee will have made a twelfth of a teaspoon.
"It struck me that, my god, I’ve developed friendships all over this country with all the folx I’ve been working with."
There are three numbers that I live by now: 5,000; 450; and 3 million. In the ten months, from February to the second week of November of 2020, UU the Vote mobilized 5,000 volunteers in 450 congregations who contacted 3 million voters. That same team would mobilize again in the 2022 midterms, culminating in what we joyfully refer to as “the miracle of Georgia.”
Along the way, something else happened that I honestly did not expect. I realized that fundamentally this work we do in UU the Vote is racial justice work, which is what I set out to do in the first place. It struck me that, my god, I’ve developed friendships all over this country with all the folx I’ve been working with. And I realized I was feeling love, which is not anything I ever anticipated; it was a warm and wonderful realization.
So, join us. The 2024 election will be as critical as any there have been to date. We reached 3 million voters in 2020; come be a UU the Vote honeybee and let’s contact 6 million! Join us however you can: donate, write a letter, write a postcard, text, phone bank. Go to uuthevote.org, click ‘Get Involved,’ and join us. I promise you, it is going to be a fulfilling experience.