In 2011 I had an internship with the Humboldt Independent Business Alliance (HumIBA). This was an amazing experience where with a fellow intern, we conducted a series of interviews with local small business lenders and leaders. We were figuring out the role our organization played in the community as our organization was in the process of shutting down. The HumIBA was under the fold of Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County (DUHC), and the person who bottomlined this work had left DUHC. The only other organization under DUHC was Move to Amend, a nation wide effort to get corporate money out of politics. DUHC was run by David Cobb and Kaitlin Sopoci Belknap. Kaitlin was a Green Party Member elected to the Humboldt County Water Board. David Cobb had ran for President as the Green Party nominee in 2004.
What I learned at this internship rocked me. The main question I asked the business lenders and organizers was what were the main problems facing the business community. They all answered that the university wasn’t providing skill sets to the local area. For example there was a nurse shortage, but the university had just canceled its nursing program.
During this internship I saw my boss Kaitlin Sopoci Belknap post about voting for the Green Party on facebook. This brought my awareness to and sparked my interest in the Green Party. Then the next year in 2012 after my internship was well over, I saw on Kaitlin’s facebook that the Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein was going to be in town visiting her at DUHC. Randomly, around the same time, I got an unrelated phone call from a DUHC volunteer about attending some future event there. I asked them how Jill Stein visiting them went. They told me that Jill was still in the area and visiting my university’s town Arcata that night if I wanted to meet her for myself.
I decided to not study for my final exam the next day and rather attend. I went to the meeting and there were about 12 people and myself circled around Jill, and most of the people were oddly clapping at just about everything she said. As off putting as the fanaticism was, I liked enough of what I heard. I thought people needed to hear Jill’s perspective pit against Romney and Obama’s in the debate. I did not want those to be the only two perspectives out there, asinine and more asinine. The idea of Jill calling them out felt like a necessary addition to the narrative of my local community.
To conclude this small event with Jill, we had a small question and answer session and meet and greet, and I spent most of that time talking to her assistant. He called his role spec-ops, and helped inspire the name of this blog. I asked him about what it would be like for me to try and get a job with the campaign and he gave me an email address to send my resume to. Jill noticed me talking to him and made a point to leave her crazed fans for a moment to introduce herself to me.
I followed up with sending my resume to the campaign, but I didn’t stop there, I contacted the CA young Greens and attended local Green Party meetings. Through the CA young greens I got in touch with one of the main organizers of the young greens, who also was working for Jill’s campaign doing phone banking. He roped me into helping him with phone banking. From that I was able to meet his supervisor, Jill’s California campaign manager.
Jill’s CA campaign manager had me do more phone-banking for her for the primary election against Rosanne Barr, and helped me set up a phone-banking party skype call with Jill and the local Green chapter. I made well over 500 phone calls and coordinated others to make another 500 calls. Jill defeated Rosanne in my county that I phone banked for by a large margin, the second highest turn out for Jill, only second to Sonoma county, where her CA campaign manager was located.
Around this time I started making memes for Jill’s campaign and was able to get in touch with their social media manager who published several of them.
I was given the contact of Jill’s national campaign manager Ben Manski and assistant campaign manager Erika Wolf. Neither ever replied to my outreach, emails and voicemail’s, and so the CA campaign manager went on to call them both and leave voicemail’s on their machines telling them to look at my resume and contact me ASAP.
I never heard from them, but the CA campaign manager also tipped me off that the Pacific Green Party of Oregon was hiring canvassers as part of a voter registration drive working for somebody running for Green Party Secretary of State. I contacted the state chapter of Oregon and was promptly given an interview for the position. During my time canvassing, I was in Portland Oregon, and canvassed libraries, farmers markets, a blues festival, and my favorite, college campuses. I registered over 170 people to vote for the Green Party.
During this time, I frequented conference calls held by a guy who was planning a California College tour for Jill Stein. I later heard from Jill’s campaign that this guy planned the whole tour without their permission, but their campaign went along with it anyways so I’m not sure what went wrong there. I persistently attended those conference calls and waited patiently for opportunities to insist that that Jill come to my university, Humboldt State, in Northern California.
Humboldt County, where my university was located, needed Jill. Arcata, where I lived and the university was located (in Humboldt County,) used to have an all Green Party city council. By 2012 Arcata was waning as a Green Party stronghold, politically and culturally. It was suffering from a Democratic party dominance and rapid gentrification. Bringing Jill to the area with some real organizing behind her would really stoke a the Green fire that made Humboldt County the place I loved.