If Hope Is A Muscle, Purpose Is Its Workout: Introducing Common Power

When it comes to the state of the world, be it locally, nationally or globally, everyone I know–and probably most I don’t–has felt like this a good deal of the past five and a half years:

I…give…up.

Most folks I know–and even more I don’t–have also found sources of inspiration to get themselves up off the floor and stay positive, or at least productive. Staying within my immediate circle of control is my go-to: cooking a meal for someone; spending time with an elder or a child; sometimes just contributing money.

But for me, real hope takes larger-scale action, and I would like to share my personal “hope-workout” of the last few years: Common Power.

Originally named Common Purpose and founded by UW Communications professor David Domke, “CP”s goal is “to foster, support and amplify a democracy that is just and inclusive.”

Even better, in my book, is the way CP goes about their work. I was first introduced to their three-part mindset when I attended a standing-room-only (obviously pre-pandemic) meeting in Seattle back in…2018, I think. This image speaks for itself:

Since joining, most of my “work” has been calling elected officials or phone-banking in “red” or “purple” states, which, no, I do not love. (Who does?) But most of that calling hasn’t been about trying to convince people to vote a certain way. It’s simply been working with in-state, non-partisan organizations (like NC’s You Can Vote) to give folks information they need to register, or to get their ballot accepted, or find their polling place. Do we target traditionally sidelined or disadvantaged voters? Of course. That’s the point. And as a result, those folks we do reach are, often as not, more grateful than grouchy.

My recent tally sheets from NC calls. GOTV = Get Out The Vote

Besides providing me with an escape ladder from the Pits of Helplessness, CP has also become a source of inspiration, learning, and even joy.

Close to home, when I can, I attend AJ Musewe’s Lunch and Learn series midweek, where the delightful AJ explores themes like the history of redlining, or little-known democracy pioneers. (When I can’t attend live, I listen to them recorded.)

the delightful & wise AJ Musewe (photo by CP)

The monthly meetings (fully accessible now–no more trips to Seattle!) begin with music and good news, and always leave me pumped up about the next event, like…the inauguration of the newly-expanded Institute for Common Power, coming up June 4! That one’s in-person, so I don’t know if I can go, but maybe you can go, and personally mingle with some civil rights heroes, compatriots of the late Rep. John Lewis, who survived the campaigns of the 1960s.

Dr. Terry Scott will be the new Director of the Institute for Common Power in Seattle (photo by CP)

CP enthusiasts are also encouraged to join state “Teams” to focus their energy on one of seven states where democracy is both imperiled but also salvageable. Of course I chose Team North Carolina. And while I’ve limited my participation to online and phone work so far, I intend to travel next fall with Team NC to my home state to do the most effective GOTV work of all: knocking on doors, connecting with people. I CAN’T WAIT.

I’m coming, NC!

Best of all, for my teacherly soul, CP’s emphasis on next-generation leadership means that my NC fieldwork will be directed by leaders younger than my own kids. They’ve all been through CP’s Action Academy–a completely rad organization in itself; maybe you’d like to contribute, or recommend a youth to attend?–and I also CANNOT WAIT TO WORK WITH THEM.

Can you hear that hope-muscle working? Does your own hope need a workout? I invite you to check out Common Power.

3 thoughts on “If Hope Is A Muscle, Purpose Is Its Workout: Introducing Common Power

  1. This is SO inspiring!! I’ve been trying to keep my hope alive (and stay sane) by focusing on my own backyard—doing what I can in our community, and donating money to organizations that do good work on a bigger scale. But now you’ve given me an additional tool. And I see that our new home state is on the list…no surprise, ha.

  2. Pingback: Where’s the Hope? – Iris Graville – Author

  3. Wow, we’re on the same wave length, Gretchen! Just as I was putting the finishing touches on my latest blog post, Where’s the Hope? (https://irisgraville.com/2022/05/18/%EF%BF%BCwheres-the-hope/), the notice of your new post showed up in my mailbox. I knew about your calls to promote voting, but I hadn’t known about (or remembered, if you told me) Common Power. Thanks for spreading some more hope around – and for making all those phone calls.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s