Guest blog by Sara Merner
The 2019 Paint the Island Green program united 30 Young Greens from across Canada. Participants wanted to learn in an inclusive environment and, from the get-go, participants designed a program that met the riding campaign’s needs and the participants’ personal skill-development goals. We learned about the hard work of politics — canvassing, entering data, and participating in a Get Out The Vote operation. We also learned about developing campaign plans, strategic communication plans, canvassing coordination, and data management.
We also learned by doing, listening, and watching. For example, after a press conference on the tabling of the BC Greens’ legislation to ban conversion therapy, the Young Greens met with BC Green MLAs, Sonia Furstenau, Adam Olsen, and Andrew Weaver. Participants also “shadowed” the candidate (David Merner), the campaign manager (Marilyn Redivo), and the volunteer coordinators, gaining skills and experience. After the summer program, participants went on to become campaign managers, phone canvassers for the Green Party of Canada head office, and candidates for the federal Youth Council with new knowledge of the inner workings of campaigns.
Overall, the program facilitated knowledge transfer among participants as well as between participants and the entire campaign team in Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke. Our program grew to include youth from the riding, multiplied volunteer numbers, and created space for a youth-run campaign. Our next step is to turn the Paint the Island Green program into a national program for all ridings from coast to coast to coast.