Sixteen people met in United Presbyterian Church of Binghamton on Wednesday night to discuss community outreach, fostering relationships and taking Citizen Action of the New York’s Southern Tier chapter in a new direction.
The meeting was the first of a new monthly series, titled “Mass Mobilization,” which will focus on changing the way Citizen Action works as a political force and building its reputation within the community. Citizen Action, a local grass-roots organization, works to create political change in areas ranging from tax reform to social equality.
The goal of “Mass Mobilization” is to create a neighborly bond through canvassing, which will allow the organization to form relationships with people on a consistent basis, not just during elections. Mary Clark, the regional director for Citizen Action’s Southern Tier chapter, stressed the importance of going door to door on a consistent basis.
“How we engage our community is important,” Clark said. “We want to spend April through July going door to door weekly in order to build relationships with people. Once we build those relationships and find out what’s important to them, then we’ll talk about elections.”
Much of the discussion also centered on getting different demographics involved with Citizen Action. Leonna Perreault, a board member of Citizen Action’s Southern Tier chapter, said the group wants to have representation from all communities.
“In particular, we tried to reach out to women of color to attend the Women’s March this year,” Perreault said. “It’s not that these women haven’t had an interest in participating, but I don’t think it’s always been an inviting space, so we need to invite these women to want to be a part of the change.”
Alex Compton-Monell, a Binghamton area resident, said he appreciated the stress on being active within government year-round.
“I liked the emphasis around engagement mobilizations, not just around the election,” Compton-Monell said. “To really change our political system, people need to not just vote, but hold our politicians accountable.”
Mario Muniz, an undeclared freshman at Binghamton University, said he believes the organization should work to recruit more young people.
“If you look around the room, everyone here is around the same age,” Muniz said. “I think Citizen Action should be looking to recruit more students and I think more students have to get involved with their local politics.”
Perreault said she hopes these types of meetings help the community expand its activism.
“It’s a twofold effort,” Perreault said. “We recognize we need to be a bigger part of the community, and we’re hoping they will embrace us and come to events like this that will inspire them to become a part of other reform groups.”