How We Organize

This article explores how we organize in teams to get things done.

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Our First Friendraiser


We had our first RISING event last night! Thanks to our friends at Savage Smith Studios, we were able to host over 200 people at a unique space. We had plenty of chocolate to go around, thanks to Vosges chocolate. A guest at last night’s event approached me to joke that there was too much chocolate - but we respectfully disagree. There can never be too much chocolate! A group of talented actors performed a spoken word flash mob, which was a unique experience, to say the least. Our guests were surprised to witness actors who they had believed to be guests start standing up on chairs and performing spoken word about what RISE is.

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Why RISE with us?

The election has been a wake-up call for the 53% of this country who did not vote for Donald Trump. As an active supporter and chief fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, I spent the last two years fighting for something larger than Democratic or Republican ideals. I chose my side in this fight because I was fighting for women. 

Our new leader does not treat parents well. He does not treat women well. He shames moms for feeding in public. He looks at women who aren’t “10s” in disgust. He lets people who have no idea of what women go through make decisions for our minds, our bodies, and our futures. The incoming administration threatens everyone who doesn’t fit into its narrow view of what America should be.

We can’t—we won’t—let that continue.

That’s just one of the reasons why Ellie Bahrmasel (a veteran of Mayor Emanuel’s team) and I started RISE movement. RISE is a movement of organizers dedicated to healing the divide in America. We already have hundreds of volunteers: Some come from Chicago’s tech community, which is our home base, but many others are concerned citizens who simply want to pitch in and help make this country better. We hope to have volunteers from all over the United States of all races, genders, and languages.

Our core values include a desire for diversity—which includes supporting diverse candidates running for office across the country—as well as a belief in the dangers of climate change, badly-run media, echo chambers, and the harassment of citizens facing economic uncertainty and potential political retribution or harassment. 

We’re starting out with a simple premise: To listen and understand. This winter we’ll be visiting local communities that voted along class lines—the silos that we’re not usually in—to find economic policy that reaches across the aisle. We want to have an initial draft of talking points and policy by spring that we can use to make a new narrative.

Because of our tech backgrounds, we also want to make sure the tech community everywhere is thinking about how to create new jobs as old industries become obsolete. Self-driving cars alone are expected to remove 10 million jobs in the next decade. More than half the jobs that Trump talked about going overseas were removed due to tech optimization and disruption. We need get ahead of this problem before millions of jobs are lost. If we have people smart enough to invent self-driving cars, we can surely harness that brainpower to tackle the issue of how to employ those displaced.

Our eventual goal is getting government to accurately represent this diverse nation. We’ll start with key offices that are opening in 2018 and 2020, but to follow that in future years with a full scale mapping and data gathering of all electoral openings in the US (more than 516,000 of them) and use that data to begin a groundswell to retake the necessary offices to take back the White House.

This is a pivotal point in American politics. We have to communicate to the millions of Americans who voted for Trump that they have a better choice. Our democracy needs our support and we’re going to do everything we can to help it rise again.  We must re-unite the United States of America.

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Several RISE members have voiced concerns about security. It's a big topic, and I'm not going to try to take on all of it in one post, but I wanted to give you an overview of how we're thinking about it and things you can do personally to maximize your own security (both as part of RISE and just as a regular person.) As an organization, our goal is to balance our need to be flexible and grow quickly with the need to ensure that our basic communications and infrastructure are being appropriately managed. This first post will focus on IT security. (I learned some of these lessons from a Syrian refugee who told me what he had been taught to do to avoid surveillance from that government. It's so sad to be discussing the same things here.)

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Five Solutions for Thanksgiving to Avoid Political Chaos

Hi RISEers.  We're about to enter Thanksgiving, and things might get chaotic. But instead of going in on the defensive, go in on the offensive.  This is info-gathering time.  Listen, Listen, Listen.  And anything you hear that is super interesting, beyond the usual rhetoric, email it to us.  We need to begin to parse out why so much of the country voted for Trump.  

And before that turkey takes a trip across the table, use the following tips to avoid conflict if things get heated: (Thanks to RISEer Beth Bond.)


Steer the conversation

When you see the conversation turning into an argument - or in some cases, full blown trauma -  lighten the mood and guide everyone back to a smooth terrain. 

Proven methods: spill your beverage, make a joke, expel gas loudly 


YES! And...

Hear them out. Validate their fear.  Then introduce a new thought.  

For example: Yes! I can totally see why you think immigration has ruined job opportunities around here. Jobs are the backbone of our economy. And what I think is most fascinating is that tech optimization is actually our biggest threat to jobs! Isn't that interesting?



An exercise in empathy, body language and creating open lines of communication

When people feel heard, they feel safe to say what they really believe. Try to create a space that allows them to speak, free from judgement. 

Look for defensive tells: increase in volume, heart rate and amount of time to respond - as opportunities to reinforce your objectivity.


Rock, Paper Scissors

Best 2 out of 3

Seriously. Hold a tournament. The person who wins can reign as supreme leader all day - regardless of fact, reason or strategy. 

It's the cool new way of making decisions 


When they go low, go high

Rather than debating demagogugic rhetoric from, choose love. 


"This turkey is delicious!"

"I'm thankful for all of the undocumented immigrant farmers who made this dinner possible."

 "Isn't it wonderful they contribute $17 billion dollars annually in taxes?"

Disclaimer: most easily achieved  in Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon and Washington.


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Congress Is 80% White, 80% Male

Congress is roughly 80% male and 80% white. The presidency is about to be taken over by another white male and has historically been 100% male and 97% white. The Supreme Court is the most diverse, at 66% male and 77% white. These numbers are the simplest way to see how underrepresented women, people of color, and many other groups are and changing them will be a key goal of RISE.

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In The Room

Something started tonight. Amid anger and tears a group came together. Almost 125 of us. We decided to stop mourning and act. This is where you'll find out what we've decided to do.

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