When we first conceived of our #CommitToCleveland Toolkit, it was a response to the crises we were all experiencing in 2020. Starting with the global health pandemic, to the canceling of our in-person Primary Election in March, to the continued racial injustices, to supporting efforts for the 2020 Census and Presidential Election, we came into the year knowing it would be quite hectic. However, nothing could have fully prepared us for the whirlwind of events that would ensue that year. On top of these stressors, our organization was inundated with calls and emails from supportive individuals and organizations, all seeking advice and support on how to effectively respond to all that was occurring. We were grateful for their enthusiasm, but we are a small team and had difficulty managing the increased demand for our time and resources. To help streamline these requests, we decided to create the #CommitToCleveland Election Toolkit.
The toolkit would come to provide those interested in activation and engagement straightforward practices that encompassed dozens of case studies. We see the act of civic engagement as a practice that really should align with a person or organization’s assets, skill sets and values. There’s no *one way* to activate your civic muscle(s). And during that time period, we encouraged folks to really think about the spectrum of engagement. While large-scale efforts are amazing (we personally love to throw a huge party), not everyone has that capacity. Furthermore, the in-house capacity of nonprofits also varies. While some may have entire Communications departments, for many of the organizations we’ve engaged with, this is not the case. So the toolkit was fashioned to provide a variety of strategies and tactics that could meet the needs of most organizations, groups and individuals.
Over the past year or so, though, we’ve noticed some drawbacks of how we publish our toolkit. One of the drawbacks is the volume of information presented in each toolkit. At first glance, it can feel a little overwhelming (especially if you consider that over half of Clevelanders are functionally illiterate). This creates an issue with equitable access. But the blog format allows for us to use many different methods for sharing information, like videos, interactive graphics, image descriptions, interviews and more.
Sharing voter engagement information through a blog will allow us to better accommodate the ebb and flow of democracy.
Another drawback of publishing a voter guide as a static document is that democracy is not static (especially in Ohio). Something that we recommend in a published guide could suddenly no longer be valid due to the whims of legislators (like the new voter ID changes that resulted from HB458). Sharing voter engagement information through a blog, though, will allow us to better accommodate the ebb and flow of democracy.
Also, under our Realizing Equitable Civic Engagement Pillar that we outlined in our 2022-2026 Strategic Plan, we identified the importance of strengthening our narrative and storytelling practices. While we highly value quantitative data to tell our collective stories, hearing directly from community partners and residents is equally important to shifting power and reimagining a more liberated future.
So what can you expect to see with the new #CommitToCle blog? We’re still working out what we want to do with this platform (we have so many ideas), but here are some topics you can definitely count on seeing in the near future:
Upcoming programming + campaigns from CV
CV staff + partner highlights
Civic engagement opportunities
Local + state voting policy updates
Helpful nonpartisan GOTV tips
Civic holiday ideas
Because collaboration is essential to a healthy democracy, we also have plans to invite guest bloggers.
Thank you for joining us for this journey and for reading our first post! New blog posts will be published on alternating Tuesdays. You can subscribe to the blog [insert link]. If you have questions, comments or ideas about #CommitToCle, or if you want to be a guest blogger, please direct them to firstname.lastname@example.org.