Over a year and a half ago, when I sat with a small group of people in a local brewery and wrote postcards opposing an effort to recall a Colorado state house representative, I didn’t have the slightest idea that we would end up creating and sending 2.6 million postcards before 2020 ended. I’d like to share with you our unexpected journey.
In April 2019, after learning about petitions to recall newly elected Colorado Democrats, I gathered a group of local activists to write postcards informing voters of what was happening. Word spread quickly. Our group grew from a few who could fit at a rectangular picnic table to a crowd that would take over the main section of a large grocery store cafe.
All recalls were defeated before reaching the voting booths. By the time the last recall was defeated, we had built up enough momentum and didn’t want to stop, so we wrote postcards to support gubernatorial and other races around the country. It was a good year and all the races we supported were successful.
During the holiday season, we created holiday cards and raised funds for detained refugees in partnership with Casa de Paz in Aurora and for homeless youth with Attention Homes in Boulder. By the end of the year, we all felt like we had made a small but meaningful difference.
In early 2020, our grave concern for the future of our democracy and our country gave rise to a palpable surge of energy and activism. We were also inviting candidates and politicians to speak at our events then.
We offered these speakers a platform to connect with activists and gave our activists the opportunity to learn about different issues and possible solutions directly from policymakers and candidates. As a result, more people showed up in our postcard events every week.
In March, with the pandemic spreading throughout America, we moved our weekly gatherings online. We missed our in-person interactions, but the virtual events enabled us to invite speakers from all over the state to participate.
In addition, we invited nonprofit leaders so that we could learn about issues concerning our communities and determine how we could help. The information we received from these speakers boosted our resolve to stay engaged.
We decided to officially register our group as the Blue Wave Postcard Movement so we could fundraise and support activists who needed financial assistance. We also decided to design and print our own postcards so we would have more control over the messaging. Also, by designing postcards on our own and printing them in bulk, we were able to reduce the cost and pass the savings to our activists.
We were able to identify a great partner in America Votes. Its mission of getting out every vote in battleground states was our mission as well. More importantly, it was willing to partner with small and unproven grassroots organizations like ours.
In June 2020, we launched our first major campaign — the “Miami Wave” — to help Democratic voters in Miami-Dade County to sign up to vote by mail. We designed and printed 100,000 postcards, which took us almost two months to distribute.
In mid-August, we launched our second campaign of the same size, but this time the distribution only took 10 days because more activists had joined us then.
Subsequently, we launched about two-dozen campaigns in Florida, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Michigan and Georgia.
In October, we shifted our focus to Colorado and ran two campaigns for key state Senate races, as well as a hotly contested congressional race. Overall, we distributed almost 1.8 million postcards leading up to the November election.
We took pride in the fact that all our postcards were sent to presidential or senatorial battleground states, including states where the margins of victory turned out to be razor thin at the end.
Right after we celebrated the Biden/Harris win on the Saturday after the election, we got back to work on the Georgia U.S. Senate runoff elections. Within a few days, we started distributing postcards for our first Senate runoff campaign.
Within two days, all 200,000 postcards were claimed; they were fully distributed in a week. After that, we launched four more campaigns. In total, we were able to design, print and distribute 850,000 postcards for the runoffs in the six weeks following the general election.
We learned a lot along the way. Mostly, we learned from our mistakes, which were plenty. We pushed forward and we pushed hard. We found our limits by pushing ourselves to our limits.
At times, it seemed as if we were sailing with the wind. At other times, it seemed as if we kept running into walls and the work was never ending. In the end, we were happy with what we did.
Starting from almost nothing was definitely challenging. We had come a long way from a small group of concerned citizens sitting at a picnic table, uncertain about the future of our country.
Or, perhaps, we didn’t start from nothing at all — we started from our resolve to make a difference. In the end, perhaps that resolve was everything we needed.
Activist Ning Mosberger-Tang of Boulder is the founder of the Blue Wave Postcard Movement.
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