Introducing the People’s Dialer
The movement for a Green New Deal has always been about creating the future we want — a future in which our nation acts less like an exploitative business and more like a united community. A community where everyone is invested in the well being of everyone else. Everyone is taken care of. Everyone is valuable.
COVID-19 — the novel coronavirus — has brought our society to the brink of shutdown. The novelty of the virus brings a lot of uncertainty. How will it spread and how fast? How bad will it be? How long will it take us to recover? The dishonesty and incompetence of the Trump administration in responding to this crisis has exacerbated these worries as we watch countries around the world ahead of us in the pandemic timeline deal with the devastating effects.
We’re all at least a little bit afraid right now. Not just for ourselves but for our families, our elders, our livelihoods, and our country. That fear is valid and it’s understandable to feel a little lost. You’re not alone. All across the movement, people are asking: What do we do? How do we help?
We’re community organizers. That’s how we can help. We have an opportunity to practice what we preach in an unprecedented way. People in our communities are hungry for information, resources, and companionship — especially the most vulnerable to the novel coronavirus, who are dramatically isolated.
It’s an experiment that will grow and morph over time but, initially, the goal is to provide the basics people are craving in this chaotic moment:
Many people are being bombarded with a ton of information right now — not all of it sourced and accurate. Older adults especially are at risk of being confused and misled by the rapidly changing news cycle and bogus articles circulating their Facebook feeds.
We can hop on the phone and act as a trusted resource for our neighbors. We can reach out, ask what they’re feeling unsure about, and find accurate information to ease their confusion. Whether they are curious about the symptoms of the virus, best-practices for avoiding it, how present it is in the local community, or the location of the nearest testing place — we can use our internet savvy to connect them with trustworthy resources and break down the information in a way anyone can understand.
Older people, people with medical conditions that put them at higher risk, and people who share space with these vulnerable groups may be stuck inside wondering how they’re going to get food and supplies without letting the illness into their homes. Some who live alone have no one to turn to for help.
We can be that person to turn to. By directing neighbors to resources organized locally, we can ensure that they get help to meet their needs amid the confusion of current events.
Maybe those we call up are already informed and stocked up for the near future. But maybe they’re alone, wondering how to pass the time without the usual freedom to go out and connect with other people.
In these moments, we can be more than organizers — we can be friends. We can spend some time chatting over the phone with neighbors, asking how they’re doing, asking what they’re thinking, gifting them a laugh or a story to help combat the feelings of isolation that will no doubt start to settle in as we all get a little cabin fever.
As we talk with people, we can connect with them about how this crisis is showing us that business as usual isn’t working in this country. We can invite them to be part of a movement fighting for a society built on care and trust, where no matter the color of your skin, how much money you have, or where you were born, everyone has what they need to live a healthy and meaningful life. This is a once-in-a-lifetime moment for all of us — together — to decide that We The People stand for something better.
How will this all work? This weekend, thousands of young people across the country will be making calls to Dallas, TX and the Bay Area as part of the pilot of this program. Over the coming weeks, Sunrise aims to scale up the program so that groups around the country can sign up online and make calls to people in their local communities.
With so much fear, confusion, and uncertainty taking up space in our lives, sometimes the most revolutionary thing we can do is reach out to each other and care. With this dialer, we can fight for someone we don’t know just by picking up the phone. This is what community organizing looks like in the time of COVID-19.