A Political Practice Lab

When I came to 9to5 in early September as a fellow with the Episcopal Service Corps, the Community Internship Program (CIP) was one of the things I most anticipated. Before joining 9to5, I placed Congress in the same mental category as Camelot or Mordor. The political process seemed so distant from my daily life that it might as well have been a myth. Though I signed petitions and went to protests and marches, I felt that my actions were more or less abstract statements of dissent or support for various governmental decisions. Thanks to the CIP I now know that such actions target specific human beings who can be influenced during their decision-making process. They are facets of much larger plans to create concrete improvements in real life.

CIP has taught me how much power people have in creating the changes we need for a more just and humane society. In this eight-week program, 9to5 members learn the skills we need to become effective community leaders, such as how to create a campaign strategy, how to facilitate a meeting, and how to engage productively with our state legislature. It is a practice lab, not simply a classroom, and we use our new skills in the same week we learned them. I have learned how to invite friends and strangers to flex their political power, at what stages in a bill’s life cycle people can make their voices heard, and how to speak with my elected officials about initiatives I want them to support. I have also become friends with some incredible community leaders who are already using their stories to effect change on issues close to their hearts, such as the Ban the Box campaign.

The Community Internship Program, as well as working at 9to5 generally, is giving me specific tools to magnify the impact of my voice. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn how to work for changes that will enable the people I love to thrive.

KJ Lewis
Episcopal Service Corps Intern
9to5 Atlanta Chapter Organizer

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