Friday, July 14, 2006


Return to Abolitionton

When I arrived at TCASK, nearly a year ago, systematic outreach to faith communities in strategically targeted legislative districts became one of my first job responsibilities. And one of the first areas that I reached out to was Giles County, Tennessee.

What!? Giles County!? Pulaski!? Why would you go there?

Well, Giles County is (or was) ably represented in the Tennessee State Legislature by Joe Fowlkes, in the House, and Doug Jackson in the Senate. Fowlkes, before his retirement this year, was the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and Jackson was the Vice-Chair of the same committee in the Senate. Suffice to say, these were two votes that we were going to need.

So I made contact with a number of churches and toward the end of 2005 spend an entire weekend in Pulaski. And it was a very productive weekend, including talks at 3 faith communities, meetings with ministers at 2 more as well as the local United Methodist college and the local paper, and gathering 6 moratorium resolutions from local small businesses. Since that time, we've continued to work in Pulaski and, on May 16th, when the state was attempting to execute Sedley Alley, a prayer service was held in Pulaski with faith leaders from five different denominations presiding.

Now yesterday I was back to work, this time on the phone. A group has begun to form in Pulaski to work toward a municipal moratorium resolution from the Pulaski City Council. So Alex was hitting the phones, contacting key contacts in the local community to work toward the vital task of scheduling a meeting. So here is our step-by-step process for meeting scheduling that anyone can follow:

  • Pick a week (or two) several weeks away when your schedule is fairly open.
  • List the people you want to attend the meeting, and, this is the difficult part, make the list in the order of importance for the meeting. Now "importance" is a fairly relative term and can be based on sway within the community or energy and excitement about the issue. One tip, put ministers and public officials near the top of the list, because their schedules tend to be insanely busy.
  • Make your calls in the order you've decided. Ask people what days in the chosen week would not work for them.
  • From responses, and this may take a few tries (don't get discouraged by answering machines) narrow down your day and then call everyone back with date, place, and time.

So that's what I've been working on the past few days in Pulaski. It can be a little plodding (who doesn't love leaving 8 messages a day) but when we pass a city resolution in Pulaski, it will be worth it and people will sit up and take notice. And pretty soon, we'll rename Pulaski Abolitionton!

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