Sister Chapters Spotlight: TWW Athens & TWW Palo Alto-Mountain View Team Up To Help Make History
Last week, Georgia flipped two historically Republican seats in the state legislature, GA 117 and GA 119. GA 117 went to Deborah Gonzalez, and GA 117 to Jonathan Wallace, two first-time candidates who decided to run out of disgust with November 2016 election results. Both fill midterm vacancies, and both took Georgia by surprise, winning by outstanding margins of 53% and 56%, respectively, in areas that have been Republican-controlled — often without contest — for some time.
This election was extra special for two chapters of Together We Will – TWW Athens in Georgia, and TWW Palo Alto-Mountain View in California. Athens, GA is the area in which both candidates live. The two chapters have been paired as “sister” chapters since early 2017, working on initiatives such as postcard challenges, resistance school study groups, and sharing of knowledge and solidarity between a tiny blue dot in a sea of red, and a big blue ocean. But no initiative has been more important than working on 2017 elections together. TWW Palo Alto-Mountain View “adopted” the two candidates, providing video Q&A seminars for the membership, and taking initiatives like fundraising and postcarding.
According to Carina McGeehin, leader of TWW Athens, “In early November, two-thirds of our city’s districts had a special election. One of our candidates was up against a hometown darling raking in a ton of money from Republicans state- and nationwide. The other declared his candidacy mere weeks before the election and was running against not one, but three Republicans. Our sister chapter sprang into action. When election night came, we all waited with bated breath. Our sister chapter admin was the first person I talked to as I sobbed with joy in my living room and their members were able to send personal congratulations to both candidates they had come to know and support. The next morning we began forming our plan for the 2018 elections.”
“Supporting our sister chapter candidates has been incredibly powerful for us,” said IdaRose Sylvester, TWW Palo Alto-Mountain View leader. “Having candidates we could get to know, and deeply respect, was very motivating for our group. The relationships we created gave us something tangible that made our work seem more real and more important, brought the solutions to this dark period to life for us. Having another chapter we can talk to was like gaining resistance sisters, on top of all this, and reminded us that we’re not in it alone. We’ve also been humbled to learn what life is really like in a red state, and these lessons opened our mind. I can’t wait to support two more candidates in 2018, and also our two friends–and I mean friends–when they come up for reelection.”
According to Carina, “One of the most beneficial aspects of the partnership has been knowing that a group across the country is navigating the same highs and lows of activism and cheering for us all the while. We’re all fighting the same battle, and our sister district constantly reminds us that we’re not alone.”
IdaRose Sylvester, of Together We Will Palo Alto-Mountain View in California, has spent the last year as a nearly-full-time political activist. Like her sister candidates, she was inspired in November 2016 to enter the political arena. IdaRose was appointed to Mountain View’s environmental task force in September 2017. When not organizing and mobilizing, she can be found guiding startups on market entry strategy, and doing corporate training and teaching on many topics, from change management to marketing.