**I’m officially going to Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary this fall of 2013!!**
So as promised, I’m finally taking the time to update you since the beginning of 2013–it has been a WHIRLWIND of a few months. For Christmas and the New Year I was able to spend some time at home, catching up with folks that I hadn’t seen since I moved to Austin. But once 2013 started and I came back to Austin, I hit the ground running! It has been an incredible, yet trying, adventure. On January 29th we had a press conference releasing our Build a Better Texas report, which highlights the dangerous and deadly working conditions in the Texas construction industry. I planned and implemented the majority of the logistics of that event, though not the actual press release portion (I’ve had no prior experience with that). Though it was difficult to coordinate not only our press conference, but helping our affiliates from around the state to plan theirs as well, it ended up working out really well! After the press conference was over, we then started work on our next big event.
On February 27th, 2013 Workers Defense Project had their “Day of the Fallen” day of action and advocacy, of which I was one of the main planners. Since the beginning of my YAV year, almost everything I’ve done in regards to work had something to do with the Day of the Fallen (DoF)–and on February 27th I got to see the fruits of all my very hard labor. Once January hit, I started working most weekends, mostly making giant puppets that we used for the march and rally. (I spent the entire weekend before the march finishing them!) In the end, they turned out amazing and everyone was very impressed! Thank goodness we had an actual artist help us with them, otherwise they would not have turned out nearly as cool. I also was helping with outreach for the event, by giving presentations and having meetings with different groups around Austin to promote our Build a Better Texas Campaign, and by extension the DoF. One of those was my Faith in Action Night event on Feb. 7th that I held at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. I invited people of faith from different backgrounds to hear about what we do at Workers Defense, in hopes of cultivating a relationship with them. It had a small turn out, and a few quirks, but overall the event went well. I have definitely learned a lot about organizing/event planning in the last couple of months. As we neared Feb. 27th, things just got crazier and crazier. We were coordinating folks coming in from 5 different cities, 170 different legislative visits, 2 legislative trainings, and a march and rally. Emily and I with our 4 interns made it happen–barely. I may or may not have been at the office until 2:30am the night before the event, but in the end it turned out great! Everyone gave us nothing but raves!
The legislative visits were of course a little wonky, just because people would show up who hadn’t signed up or folks didn’t show up who said they’d be there. And because we were trying to coordinate 170 different visits for 150 different people, things were crazy. Overall we visited and/or dropped off materials at almost all of the offices at the state Capitol! We are so excited to know that our work is getting well known around the state. We are making a difference for workers in the construction industry! After the legislative visits, we held the march and rally, which was essentially my baby. I had put an insane amount of work into coordinating the logistics and making the props (the puppets mostly), that I was praying it would end up going well. Apparently it did–even Emily, my supervisor, said it was the most fun march she’d ever been to and she’s been doing this for 10 years! It was so exciting to be a part of something so lively–we had the Reagan High School Marching Band lead the march, and they are one of the top marching bands in the state. They were perfect for keeping the energy high! We also had the four puppets we spent the last 4 months building–one that represented not being paid, one that was injured, one with a “paid” check representing his payment, and another strong and healthy one. We also had a “stop” sign in between them representing “stop the injustices!” Cristina, our executive director, even announced a grand “thank you!” to Emily and I for planning and implementing all of this, and had union guys PICK ME UP ON THEIR SHOULDERS!!!! (She would have had Emily as well, but she was talking to Senator Rodriguez, our keynote speaker.) I’ve never been held in the air like that, or as mortified as I was, before then, but it was definitely fun!!
Since that day I’ve mostly been resting and recuperating after all the craziness, writing scholarship applications for school next year, catching up on all the things I didn’t have time for during February (like blogging), as well as finishing up all the follow up from legislative visits. We took notes on all the visits to make sure we answered any questions legislators had. It took awhile, but we finally contacted all of them! We also had an exhibit up for a week after the DoF in the basement of the Capitol Rotunda, which had to be taken down and stored as well. It has been a whirlwind of a 2013, but a really great one as well! Workers Defense Project has tried me in ways I never imagined, but it has also been an incredibly rewarding experience. I have learned more in the last 6 months working there about organizing efforts than I ever thought I would in my life. I will definitely be taking this knowledge to seminary with me, and will continue to use it for the rest of my life, in any and every capacity God wills.