As part of the AGM on October 1, there was a workshop on Constituency Associations organized and facilitated by Susan Stratton and Dick Willott, both members of the Executive Council. Here is Susan’s and DIck’s report on the workshop:
We [Susan and Dick] opened by updating the group on the current status of Green CAs in the province. Five GPA Constituency Associations are already established. Five more by year’s end looks likely; 87 before the next election is the real goal – one in each of Alberta’s Electoral Divisions. Susan stressed the importance of CAs in support of candidates, and briefly discussed the approval process.
Dick mentioned that he had recently started a CA, and the process is not unduly onerous. He distributed handouts that outlined WHAT is a CA?, WHY start one?, WHEN is a good time?, WHERE to hold an organizing meeting?, WHO can start one?, and HOW to do it. If you’d like a copy of the handout, ask Susan: firstname.lastname@example.org
Most important: The reasons for having CAs
- To bring Greens together to be more effective and productive – and have more fun,
- To raise tax-credited funds to support activities and save for the next election, and
- To increase the membership and use the members’ connections to find and support a great candidate.
- Send an email to Susan (email@example.com) to say you are interested/willing to start up a CA. She ‘s happy to give assistance, most of which you can find on the party website: http://greenpartyofalberta.ca/gpa-constituency-association-formation-guide/
- Find a few people in your Electoral Division willing to commit to a position: CEO/President, CFO/Treasurer, and at least one other position, such as Secretary, Events Coordinator, Member-at-Large. All must be members of the GPA but only 2 of 3 must live in the ED. Susan may also be able to help with contacting other Greens in the ED that you may not know about.
- Have a first/startup meeting. You can probably achieve everything in that first meeting to satisfy the both the party’s and Elections Alberta’s requirements for setting up a new CA.
We had a general discussion about problems, barriers, goals to achieve and steps to take to achieve them. Some of the points that came out of the discussion were:
The challenge in setting up a CA is finding at least three members or Green-leaning folks willing to become members who are prepared to spend a couple of evenings organizing. Susan can help. The actual process of getting CA approval from the party and Elections Alberta is not difficult.
Once a CA is established, achieving the real goals of building the member and volunteer base, raising funds, and finding a great candidate begins. Some events to consider:
- Monthly meet-up groups for discussions – could be in a coffee shop or pub or a potluck dinner.
- ‘Green’ activities, such as a park, path or roadway cleanup.
- Door-knocking to remind people in your ED that the GPA exists between elections, find out what they care about – and get contact info by asking at the end of the conversation, “Mind if we keep in touch?” Ask Susan about handouts to leave at the door.
Among our established CAs, one put a float in a community Canada Day parade, one joined the city’s river valley cleanup, others set up tables at community events, markets, and festivals with GPA information, membership forms, donation jars. Often the tables were shared with federal Greens.
Because of the regional nature of EDs, community associations are particularly good contacts; get involved in community affairs.
Ideally, a candidate will be chosen at least a year before the next election, to allow time for his/her name to be put out into the community. But fundraising can be started right now.
- CA’s are eligible to give out tax receipts, for cash or for in-kind donations. They can link for donations to the party website.
- Door-knocking can achieve two ends: making the Party and/or candidate when there is one more visible, and raising funds.
- Fundraising is easier with a specific goal, such as helping to pay for brochures or signs.
- Every event can be a fundraiser, even if it’s a toonie at a discussion group.
- Assistance from the party is available for setting up website or Facebook presence.
- The GPA Newsletter can be used to communicate CA events.
At the end of the Workshop Session, the question was asked if anyone was prepared to commit to starting a CA before the end of 2016. Four people said that they would. Again, the urgency to get started was stressed, to allow time to achieve goals and support candidates by the next election.
The moral of the story is, please, volunteer to start a CA in your constituency for the Green Party of Alberta!