DESIGN RESEARCH + ORGANIZING
Listening when everyone else was shouting
The short story
In October and November 2016 I was a Field Organizing Fellow in Cleveland, OH, for Hillary Clinton's historic presidential campaign. I knocked on 1000+ doors and made 1000+ phone calls to recruit volunteers and to help Democratic voters make a plan to vote. I developed training materials and trained 300+ volunteers to persuade people to vote and improved and re-designed internal documents to improve the efficiency of the field operation and the accuracy of our data collection. During the final big push of the campaign I collaborated with local and national campaign staff to organize two large rallies with Hillary Clinton and special guests (including Queen B).
It was an unforgettable experience that I'm grateful to have been a part of.
The full story
In the fall of 2016 I set out to explore how human-centered design could be used to improve how government interacts with people. Just like any brand or organization, a governmental institution has many touch points where they meet their constituents. Often the point of interaction is a form, but it may also be a website, a phone call, a visit to an office, being arrested by the police, reading a sign on the subway, or watching the garbage truck drive by. In most of our interactions we're out to get something: information, a permit, benefits, advice. However, every four years (for most people, more often for some) that dynamic is reversed and we the people provide.
When we vote.
Voting is a unique moment where eligible constituents are able to, in a very direct way, make their voices heard and exercise their right to influence the direction and actions of their government. For the final months of the 2016 Presidential Election I embarked on an immersive research project with the hopes of better understanding this specific point of interaction between government and people. And, of course, to help elect the most competent person to ever run for president in the United States: Hillary Clinton.
As a Field Organizing Fellow I worked out of a local campaign office in Shaker Heights, a suburb to Cleveland. I was surrounded by campaign staff, fellows, and volunteers, and the office was buzzing with life from early morning to late night. The weeks were spent recruiting volunteers and preparing processes and materials for the Get Out The Vote (GOTV) efforts that took place on the weekends.
On the weekends leading up to Election Day thousands of volunteers gathered in local hubs around Cleveland, received training, and were then sent out to knock on doors and speak to voters. My main responsibility was to develop training materials and then lead volunteer trainings. But as soon as I had some time to spare, I too was out walking a packet and knocking on as many doors as I could.
And behind every door was a person. Sometimes an enthusiastic supporter, other times a reluctant voter. No matter the person, I saw each interaction as an opportunity for me to learn something new about voting. Over the course of three weekends I spoke with hundreds of people – rich and poor, black and white, old and young, #imwithher and #maga, first time voters and party veterans – each with a story to share.
I captured my learnings from the campaign in four short newsletters: