Great Trip North: Part III - River Falls

You never know what you are gonna get when you first start working in a new locality. You can’t really predict the energy or experience level of the local leaders and community members who want to work to stop the amendment.

It was with this bit of nervousness and excitement at meeting the unknown that we – Josh, Ingrid, and I—entered our first meeting with activists from River Falls and the surrounding counties (Pierce, St Croix, and Dunn).

River FallsI had set up the meeting using contacts we had made with UW-River Falls students and other leaders already involved in local politics. They worked to outreach to other people they knew would be interested. Little did we know that we were about to meet an incredibly energized and charismatic group of organizers who had brought (amazing!) cookies and apple crisp to our cozy meeting room on campus. The stage was set for a great meeting.

We met Wanda and Phyllis, a magnetic couple who have been together for 30 years, who have supported each other through thick and thin, yet are denied the protections of marriage. “I want to get married to the person that I love,” says Wanda, “and you know, I don’t call it ‘gay marriage’, because I want just what everyone else has, not something different. No one talks about ‘straight marriage’; it’s about equal treatment under the law.”

The meeting included teachers, community members, PFLAG mothers, university and high school students, and democratic leaders. They were eager to start educating the community and pressuring their legislators, and wanted to have a local Training to Stop the Amendment to help provide them with the tools they need to communicate effectively about the amendment.
I pulled out my date book and looked through our list of upcoming trainings. The earliest we could put River Falls on the calendar wasn’t until February. The group wasn’t satisfied.

“Can’t we do it sooner?”

I looked at Josh, and then at Ingrid. Could we pull it off in such a full schedule? We looked around the room at the eager eyes. I took a deep breath.

“How about the end of November?”

The room filled with smiles, and the planning began—outreach on campus, in the community, in the neighboring towns. The room will be packed, they assured. We look forward to seeing our new friends again, and meeting many more, the evening of November 30th, at the St Croix Valley Training to Stop the Amendment.

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