How do you find and mobilize your rural supporters? Start with a yard sign.
Many organizers struggle with building support in rural communities because it’s hard to identify potentially supporters. “Start small, and keep it simple”, says Matt Hildreth the founder of Rural Organizing.
If someone is willing to put up a yard sign showing support for your cause or candidate, it is a good sign that they might be willing to do more. Perhaps share yard signs with their friends as well. And as more signs appear in a community, people realize that there are other people with similar values. And that sparks conversations which leads to organizing. Think of yard signs as catalysts to make good things happen.
The challenge Matt had was how do you find where the signs have been placed, other than the person who originally requested the yard signs? Which people were best at sharing and having yard signs put up. Those people have a good deal of social influence and might become local community organizers. This blog explains how a solution to this challenge was created in a day using ArcGIS software. The app is affordable (about $50/month for nonprofits) and comes from esri, a 50 year old firm with over 10,000 employees.
Easier data collection
Organize campaigns better with smart maps
Share the form to request yard signs with a link (https://arcg.is/OHeDL) or a QR Code. The information submitted appears immediately on a map which you can choose to keep private for yourself, share selectively or make it public. In this demo, I’ve made the map public so you can try submitting an entry and seeing it appear on the map (https://arcg.is/Demb40).
Yard sign locations include details on how the person go the yard sign – by requesting it or from a friend, and which friend gave it to them. This information makes it easier to identify potential community organizers and also plan the most efficient routes to canvass people who have put up yard signs. Learn more about mobilizing voters with yard signs (for social justice and voting rights campaigns) here.
In small towns and rural communities across the country, authentic relationships are the foundation for community change. Tip O’Neill famously said, “All politics is local,” but we’ve found that rural politics are also personal. We believe that communities, causes, and candidates must leverage these relationships in order to organize and mobilize rural communities toward enduring and sustainable change. With smart communications and strategic distributive organizing, we will empower rural progressives and develop, pass, and implement policy platforms needed to rebuild small towns across America.
Don’t ignore rural voters
“Democrats have to cut margins in rural America and the Republican extremism on abortion rights presents the biggest opportunity to engage rural voters. (That’s something we knew from our polling of rural voters in 2020 and 2022.) When it comes to abortion rights, the grassroots excitement, even in small towns and rural communities, has been activated and will continue to build ahead of November. Our biggest challenge is leveraging local rural power for partisan gains, but our August efforts showed that traditional field campaigns supplemented with visibility tactics can turn out communities traditionally forgotten by electoral campaigns.
After months of on-the-ground organizing efforts by community groups, rural and small-town Ohio voters defeated Issue 1 by a hefty margin. The ballot measure would have severely restricted the ability of citizens to amend their constitution and further empowered the Republican supermajority in Columbus. RuralOrganizing.org played a key role in this victory by mobilizing rural and small-town voters in distributing yard signs across the state and turning out voters in Athens County in collaboration with our partner group Indivisible Appalachian Ohio.” – Rural Organizing
TakeAway: Use innovative tech to mobilize more rural voters.
Image credit: Kevin Costner in Yellowstone
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