ONE Congressional District Leader Andrew Garretson recounts his experience tabling for ONE at the #FourthEstate Summit.
I had a chance to attend Invisible Children’s Fourth Estate Leadership Summit at UCLA in Southern California earlier this month. The event, attended by more than 1,500 of Invisible Children’s high school- and college-aged activists, was not just a call for #zeroLRA, a campaign to bring down the Lord’s Resistance Army in Africa, but a weekend of inspiration and empowerment.
I volunteered at the ONE table at the Fourth Estate’s Common Good Exchange, an on-site mini-event that hosted more than 70 nonprofits. Organizations like International Justice Mission, Charity Water, TOMS, StayClassy.org and more were there alongside ONE to help engage conference attendees on issues they might also be passionate about. New ONE Southwest Regional Field Director Ana Grande was also there to represent ONE.
I had a chance to listen in on several events at the Summit, and discovered that the deeper story was not just about Invisible Children’s upcoming campaign. It was about the new wave of direct advocacy and action in activism in this particular youth movement, outlined by new UN Ambassador Samantha Power.
Ambassador Power wants to use her new position to strengthen her partnership with activists and ensure that the government does more with our advocacy. She encouraged the young activists to Tweet, Facebook and Instagram their thoughts on the future with the hashtag #whatmatters to us.
Back at the ONE table, Ana and I found it remarkably easy to sign up new ONE members. Normally at events like concerts, there are objections when I ask people to sign our petitions.
But at the Fourth Estate, objections were few. More people wanted second and even third actions to take. When we told activists about our current Energy Poverty campaign, they were eager and willing to send a postcard or note to their Congressional representative. Energy poverty was even directly relatable when the sun went down and I used my phone as a flashlight for people to sign up.
All in all, we signed up 87 new members, and got 69 energy petition signatures, 51 energy postcards, and 35 energy letters. As Ana said on Facebook, “Yes, we rocked it!”
I was reinvigorated, inspired, and encouraged by the Fourth Estate Leadership Summit. I had little idea what I was getting into when I agreed to volunteer and help at the conference, but I was reminded why I chose to take my first step in activism and why I continue to take steps to end poverty and preventable disease.
And best of all, I even got to sit with Gary Haugen at lunch one day! He’s the founder of International Justice Mission (an official partner organization of ONE) and a personal hero of mine.