Want to turn your energy into action? Engage Norfolk is here to help.
It started with a question in the private Facebook group for AltDaily contributors:
“Does anyone know if there any sorts of workshops/events teaching folks about how to become more civically engaged and involved in local politics (and beyond)?” asked Vicki Bahr. “Besides contacting your representatives, many people may not know what to do next, or how they can really make a difference.”
It was like one snowflake falling that quickly turned into a snowball, and by Sunday, it will be an avalanche of an expected 500 to 1,000 (or more) passionate Norfolk citizens who care enough to give of themselves to the greater good.
Engage Norfolk’s fearless leader has been Councilwoman Andria McClellan. Since that fateful post by Vicki, Andria has been a whirlwind of inspiration, helping to organize the dozens of organizations and volunteers that will fill Lakewood Academy this Sunday from 1pm to 5pm.
“The idea for Engage Norfolk came as an answer to the many phone calls, texts and messages I received from Norfolk residents who are excited to make a difference in our community right now, but who don’t know how to connect their passions to local initiatives,” said McClellan. “This event will provide a means for individuals to channel their energy into making a positive change in Norfolk and beyond.”
This is going to be fun. Here’s the rundown of everything you’ll find this Sunday at Engage Norfolk.
Organizations Doing Good Who Need Your Help
There will be about 90 local organizations waiting to meet you. You can find the list of most of them here. Whether your passion is animals, the arts, civic engagement, the environment, children, wellness, LGBTQ issues, veteran affairs, homelessness or social justice, there will be an organization who desperately needs you — yes you– to be a part of their mission.
We have asked these organizations to provide three distinct ways to help:
- A monetary breakdown of where your dollars go, should you want to make a donation on the spot or in the future. (If you’re short on time but blessed in resources, donations might be the way to go.)
- A lobbying one-page sheet, for those of you who would like to encourage government towards the institutional changes that make our community a better place.
- Three real-life volunteer opportunities to sign-up for. Help with your time and hands!
Civic Workshops to Learn How to Effectively Make a Difference
These have been my baby — I’m so stoked for our presenters, panels, and for hopefully you all to learn something and leave inspired. These will all be in the auditorium right by the front door of the school. Here is the line-up:
1:00 to 1:15pm
With Tommy Smigiel, Lakewood School Principal and City Councilman; Kate Meechan, Executive Director of Volunteer Hampton Roads; and Andria McClellan.
1:25 to 2:00pm
What Now? Turning Passion into Action
So, now what? You want to make a difference, but you’re not sure how, who, what…. This panel will address many ideas, including how to translate your national concerns on the local level; how to identify the best volunteer opportunities to match your skills and availability; how to be a great volunteer, and more.
Hosted by me, Jesse Scaccia, with Cary Love, Coordinated Crisis Response Director for the YWCA of South Hampton Roads; Tanya Karapurkar Bhasin, Member of the Norfolk School Board; and Beatrize Amberman, with the Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights.
2:10 to 2:35pm
Effective Local Lobbying
Learn how effective lobbying led a great idea from concept to reality with the NEON Arts District.
With Hannah Serrano, co-founder and lead activist of the NEON.
2:45 to 3:10pm
How to Run for Office — and How to Help Your Neighbor Get Elected
Whether you are interested in running for office — or you want to help support the campaign of a good friend, colleague or neighbor — this session will provide some nuts-and-bolts of how to run for municipal or state office, including the filing and petition requirements, the importance of grassroots campaigning, how to use data to win, and the joy of fundraising.
With Jessie Williams, who has worked on local, state, and federal campaigns.
3:20 to 3:45pm
How to Write a Great Letter to the Editor
Do you want to make sure your opinion is read in the local/national paper? Learn from the experts what it takes to get noticed and printed.
With Brian Colligan, Virginian-Pilot editorial writer.
3:55 to 4:20pm
Norfolk Government 101: How to Utilize the Resources Available in Norfolk
Learn how to access the resources available for citizens and community groups in Norfolk (Norfolk Cares, Norfolk NBN Academy, grant opportunities, access to public buildings, permits for events, etc.).
With Andria McClellan.
4:30 to 5pm
Activism at your Doorstep: The Power of the Civic League
Representatives from Civic Leagues will discuss how you can make a bigger collective impact by working with your civic league to effect positive change where you live.
Led by Martin Thomas, Norfolk City Councilman; with civic league leaders Eric Hause (Lake Whitehurst West Civic League); Nikki Southall (Ingleside Civic League); and Hank Brown (Crossroads Civic League).
Op-ed & Letter Writing Workshop with Celebrated Local Journalist Jim Morrison
From Jim: Op-ed articles and letters to the editor that have your supporters nodding along in agreement do little to advance your cause. You need to change minds.
Stop by the computer lab to learn and discuss the basics of making your case through letters to the editor, op-ed articles and persuasive content for social media. We’ll share research-based methods to make your case. We’ll talk about making the personal universal. We’ll explore finding just the right facts — yes, facts still matter — and the creating emotional resonance in your writing.
You will leave with templates to guide letter writing campaigns and op-eds as well as a list of storytelling ideas to create compelling content for social media.
Are you already working on something? Bring it and we’ll workshop it from draft to polished piece.
– Child Care will be provided on-site by the YMCA. For 5 to 12-year-olds. Space will be limited in the gym.
– We will have three food trucks on-site: Karnage Asada, The Grilled Cheese Academy and J&K Style Grille.
– There will be an interactive art project led by Vicki Bahr.
– Numerous elected officials and their aides will be at the event, looking to hear from you, their constituents.
– Just down the street Norfolk’s Recreation & Parks Department is planting more than 40 trees — and they need your help. A bare area will be reforested with pawpaw, blueberry, witch hazel, plum, red bay, persimmon, and others. More details at the event.
Engage Norfolk is free and open to the public. Parking is available in the main school lot, out front where the buses would go, and from 12:30pm-3pm at Christ the King Catholic School. The Academy for Discovery at Lakewood is located at 1701 Alsace Ave, Norfolk, VA 23509. For more on the event, here is the website, and here is the Facebook event.