By David Siffert
I was, until a few weeks ago, president of the Village Independent Democrats. I served from December 13, 2018 through December 10, 2020. During that time, the State Legislature passed election reform, housing reform, and more. The city amended its charter. We elected a new president. And we faced a pandemic.
Community organizations like VID are, fundamentally, about the people. VID is one of the last Democratic clubs to retain a physical clubhouse, and we kick off petitioning every year with a party in that poorly ventilated basement space. We meet in person, we debate in person, we knock on doors in person, and we even celebrate the holidays in person. Or, at least, we did.
What is a community if we aren’t together? What is a community if we can’t see each other’s faces and talk about important issues? What is a community if we can’t work together to solve our problems?
The last nine months have been a learning process. How can a community be a community without any of the usual hallmarks of a community? Zoom, of course, was an important first step. Meetings went online and, in a way, we could see each other’s faces. Then came the text-banking. During this primary season, everyone in the Village with a cell phone number on file with the Board of Elections got texts from us reminding them how and when to vote. For the general election, we switched to out-of-district phone-banking, getting candidates around the country to join us for Zoom meetings and then calling into their districts. We amended our constitution, elected new co-presidents, and endorsed city council candidates via online voting tools. Most recently, we have moved our free tenants’ clinic—on hold during the pandemic—onto Zoom, every Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. If you need help with housing issues, you can now email firstname.lastname@example.org for an appointment.
The learning process continues, even as the COVID vaccine is distributed. COVID is raging harder than ever, and we need to keep up the good work as a community in a way that will ensure we will all be here to celebrate the holidays next year and beyond.