In December 2021, as the year drew toward its close, Down Home’s staff gathered together to take stock. We gathered in a little cabin in the woods of Prospect Hill, an unincorporated community in rural Caswell county. We were just over the line from Alamance County, where Down Home was born in 2017 and where Down Home members were pushing their organizing into the holiday season. There was no cell service out in Prospect Hill, but as Dreama and I departed, our phones lit up with pictures of a beautiful, powerful community event members were holding in Graham.
Those images of Down Home members in action captured so much of the beauty of these first few years, and they show the way to a new and different future for North Carolina. There is nothing more hopeful than these small town and rural gatherings of white, Black, and brown working people. And while Down Home’s current chapter network amounts to just a handful of counties, the power they represent will be enormous…if we continue to build.
Down Home members put on a powerful event in Alamance County this past December.
As precious, important, and beautiful as Down Home’s current membership is, we have to admit that we are too small to win on the issues that really matter to our communities. Four years in, we still haven’t won an expansion of Medicaid in North Carolina, meaning that more than 600,000 of our neighbors are still going without the health care they need. And most of North Carolina’s rural residents still don’t have a local chapter that they can join to fight for their needs as part of a multiracial working people’s movement. If we truly love our neighbors, we have more work to do.
This is why, in 2022, Down Home North Carolina will launch the largest coordinated organizing push in our organization’s short history. We know that every new chapter and every new member grows the power of all working people in North Carolina, and we are determined to grow our numbers and our power dramatically. Next year, for the first time, Down Home organizers will cover all three regions of North Carolina: mountains, piedmont, and the east. We will build a people’s organization that stretches from the mountains to the sea, an organization that has the power to win for all of us.
So much will be new in 2022: New members, new relationships, new Down Home staff and organizers, and new challenges as we continue to stretch ourselves and our organization. In 2022, we will launch new member training programs, new regional chapter cohorts, and a fellowship program to prepare the next generation of rural working class leaders.
At the same time, our fundamental methods will remain the same: careful listening canvasses, front porch conversations, and chapter meetings. Our members will continue to build a working class mandate for North Carolina that can guide our chapters in making endorsements. And we will follow up those endorsements with a powerful midterm election program that can not only win elections, but will grow our chapters for the long haul.
When the Down Home staff departed that cabin in rural Caswell county, we looked out on the December landscape with fresh eyes, knowing that Down Home organizers would soon knock on the doors of the houses and trailers we passed.
Down Home staff at our staff retreat.
The only traffic we encountered was at the local middle school, where hard-working parents were dropping off their beloved children for another day of learning, and we wondered if future Down Home members were among them.
And as we traveled through the little no-stoplight towns, we envisioned gatherings of the members who would come together in these small places to make a great change for all of North Carolina’s working people.
We hope you will join us in making this North Carolina we dream of, want, and need. You can become a member of Down Home for as little as a dollar a year– or whatever it is you can offer. We’d love to have you.