“New Era’s quirky approach to politics is refreshing”5280 Magazine
In the summer of 2006, I stepped on stage and took the mic at Club Vinyl. I welcomed a big crowd of people who probably weren’t quite sure why they were spending their afternoon at a Denver nightclub. Senate Majority Leader Ken Gordon and House Speaker Andrew Romanoff joined me on stage. At that moment, they were probably having serious doubts about their staff’s judgement in adding this stop to their schedules.
The event was the kickoff party for a newly-minted organization, whose purpose was to “reinvent politics for a new generation.” We called it New Era Colorado.
I don’t remember what I said on stage that day. But I do know that I had no idea what the next ten years of my life were about to look like.
In those early days, we took a “fake it ‘til you make it” approach to getting New Era off the ground. Budgeting, fundraising, and management structures were learned via some serious “on the job training.” I was 22 years old. Managed by a board of 22-year-olds. I kept my tie hanging in my closet pre-tied out of fear of not remembering how to do it next time.
Looking back, serving as the Executive Director for New Era has been both the hardest and most meaningful thing I’ve ever done. I feel enormously lucky to have had the opportunity to pour my heart into something like this.
I told myself over the past few years that as soon as I felt like New Era was in a place where it could be handed off, then I would do that so someone else can shepherd the organization into its next ten years. Thanks to the incredibly talented and dedicated staff team, our board of directors, and our generous supporters, I feel that now is that time.
So, here goes nothing: I’m writing to you today to announce that I’ll be transitioning out of my current role at New Era in the spring of next year. This week, the Board of Directors will be kicking off a comprehensive hiring process to find New Era’s next Executive Director.
New Era’s next Executive Director will be inheriting an organization with a track record of always striving to beat its “best”–and a roadmap of how to continue to be one of the most innovative, impactful and fun organizations in the country. Over the past several months, the board and staff have been investing considerable time into creating a strategic plan for New Era’s future. The intention isn’t to write a step-by-step plan, but to articulate a “North Star” for our work–to solidify the values and truths that have been core to our organization’s success–and to provide enough direction for our next generation of leaders to blaze a trail of even more impact.
I don’t know exactly what’s in store for New Era’s next decade, but I do know that it will continue to be an organization that thinks big and takes risks. It will continue to break down the barriers which prevent young people from shaping their own future. It will continue to invite new voices into the political process to be a force for a more fair, just, and sustainable world. And, of course, it will continue mobilizing a generation that will solve the problems nobody else can.
But, I’m not going anywhere just yet. I’ll still be here for several more months and there’s a lot to do to make sure New Era runs the biggest and best statewide young voter engagement program next year. And when I do transition out, I will remain involved in whatever capacity is most helpful.
In the meantime, thank you for helping us “make it.” It’s been an incredible honor. For now, let’s get back to work. There’s more to be done.
It’s been a year since you ignited our Campaign for Local Power and put us on the path to defeat Xcel Energy 2:1.
Since, Boulder’s taken some big steps towards forming our own local electric utility, and we thought you’d want to know about ‘em.
First of all: last week, it came out that Xcel “inadvertently” included campaign expenses in its request to raise rates on Colorado customers. It was almost half a million dollars. Oops?
Now, here’s the quick & dirty version of updates from Boulder:
The city of Boulder is making a ton of progress so far. They’ve taken the first steps towards transitioning the utility’s infrastructure (i.e., poles & wires) from Xcel, and they’re launching a two year-long pilot program to learn more about Boulder’s energy usage so that the utility can better serve our community.
Unsurprisingly, Xcel’s refusing to cooperate–they’re suing the city of Boulder & organizing some sketchy opposition–the latest in its efforts to keep Boulder from creating our own city-owned utility.
Despite Xcel’s shenanigans, things are really moving. It’s incredible. Thanks for helping us get here–we wouldn’t be able to update you on the progress of our local electric utility without the huge swell of grassroots support that powered our campaign to this point.
Big news–on Saturday, New Organizing Institute announced that we won their “Most Valuable Campaign of 2013” award!
To say that we’re excited and grateful would be an enormous understatement.
We just wanted to say THANK YOU to all of you. Thank you for believing in us–in local power–enough to invest whatever you could in this campaign–be it your time, your support, or a donation.
You saw right away that this campaign was bigger than Boulder, and you stepped up. You gave us hope and renewed our faith in the power of communities to build the world we dream of.
This award belongs to all of you. We can’t thank you enough.
Are you one of our future interns? We sure hope so.
We’re now accepting applications for our 2014 spring internship programs in Denver & Boulder! You, yes you, should apply.
Here’s the scoop – quick & dirty version:
WHAT: New Era’s spring 2014 internship program, focused on building grassroots campaigns to impact policy makin’ during Colorado’s legislative session. Fine-tune your leadership skills, get your hands dirty, & learn to advocate for the issues you care about like the boss you are & the leader you were born to become.
WHO: We are looking for a solid crew of energized of folks who are pumped (excessively so) to learn the ropes. No experience necessary! Seriously.
WHEN: The program starts in early February, ends in late April. We’re accepting apps on a rolling basis, so get yours in!
Sold? Ok great – here’s where you can download an application. Get that sucker in ASAP, got it?
Still not sold? Check us out on Facebook to get a feel for what we’re all about, creep on former interns, or email us (info(at)neweracolorado(dot)org) to grill us about the program. Or just read more here.
Email info(at)neweracolorado(dot)org with questions, concerns, or gift ideas for fathers because we’re having a hard time with it.
Tomorrow is Colorado Gives Day, a statewide, 24-hour blitz to support Colorado nonprofits.
We are writing today to ask for your support, because you of all people know what we can do if we head full-force into 2014.
2013 has been an incredible year for us, to say the least–and we’re ready for an even bigger 2014, because it’s critical that young people have a strong say in shaping the future of our state.
This year, we ran the biggest campaign in our organization’s history–and we need to be bigger next year. We helped pass game-changing elections access legislation–and we need to make sure young voters take advantage of it next fall.
After a year like this one, it is clear that what we are doing is working. And there’s more where that came from.
We want to increase the youth vote share in Colorado, train dozens more leaders, and engage hundreds more volunteers. And we’re ready for it: this year alone, we made over 100,000 voter contacts. In the last two years, we have registered over 40,000 voters.
If you believe Colorado deserves a more hands-on democracy, if you know young voters will shape our state in 2014 and beyond, and if you think we’re the right organization for the job: please support our work today to have a lasting impact on Colorado tomorrow.
Thank you for your support–past, present, and future. It means the world to us.
-Steve, Carrie, Alexis, Nina, Lizzy, and Molly
Last week’s victory in Boulder was the result of a transformative grassroots campaign made possible by literally thousands of individual people.
We won this round because of you—and we need you to commit to helping us win the next one by becoming a monthly member. A small monthly donation of any amount ensures that we can keep fighting, but on a larger scale—and it ensures that we stay innovative, independent, and nimble.
In honor of our campaign this year we’re hoping you can help make 310 (Xcel’s ballot measure) our lucky number and get us to 310 monthly members by the end of the year. Our efforts this year shouldn’t just go down in history as defeating a bad ballot measure–they should represent something so much bigger than that, which requires long-term work.
Monthly members allow us to grow this movement and engage young people in our democracy on a larger scale than we would have imagined before all of this. It’ll also allow us to keep tabs on Xcel in Boulder to ensure what we fought for becomes reality.
Thank you again for getting us this far. Here’s to moving forward together and reclaiming our democracy for all our communities.
Tonight, we stood up. We stood up and said NO to corporate control of our energy future. But more importantly, we said yes to something so much bigger: people.
Yes, this was a campaign about energy. About our planet. About a corporation that just refuses to change. But all along what it was really about was people. People made this victory possible.
People like you: The one who lives in Alabama and mailed us your laptop for our phone-banks. The one we phone-banked to talk about the issue and then came by our office an hour later to drop off drinks for our volunteers who were working late. You sent us the only money you had in your pocket, you brought us food, you spent every Saturday volunteering, and you sent us the kindest notes from around the world that kept our team going. You have moved us to tears, energized us to reach beyond our capacity, and sustained us through each day. You renewed our belief that our communities are strong enough to bring about the changes we need–and you made us certain that we would prevail.
For the second time, our grassroots campaign defeated a coal industry giant.
And for the second time, it is crystal clear: Xcel’s dirty money can’t buy community, trick voters, or inspire young voters to enter the political process. It can’t spark neighbor-to-neighbor outreach. It can’t mobilize a diehard army of volunteers.
Only people can do that. And boy–did we have people.
Over 1 million of you watched the story of our campaign. Over 6,000 of you gave to grow our reach. And because of that support, our volunteers and organizers were able to log over 100,000 voter contacts. In short, this has been the definition of a grassroots campaign because of you.
For those of you far away: This fight has always been as much about our community as it is about yours. Thank you for supporting us, for sticking with us till the end. Honestly, without you, we might have lost our democracy to the highest bidder this round.
But now, with this behind us, we are able to continue working to create a model for how communities around the country can take control of their energy future.
Our communities need an impactful strategy to combat climate change. We are proud to have fought for this one alongside each of you, and we look forward to the work ahead.
For now, though, we have this to say: Go home, Xcel. Your money is no good here.
Now get some sleep.
Steve, Carrie, Becca, Molly, Lisa, Nina, Jenn, Alexis, Getzan, Gary, Lizzy, Nina, Brian, Chris, Elena, Kate, Jonah, Ellie, Kaitlin, Rhiannon, Jill, Susan, Arielle, William, Nathan, Becca, Jackson, Galen, Alayna, Gina, Toni, Sidney, Kathryn, Jourdan, Mitchell, Nora, Becca K, Daniela, Julia, and Lauren
P.S. Wanna support our work moving forward so we can do even bigger and better things? Yes, please.
With less than 2 weeks left, we wanted to share an update about our local power campaign.
Voting has begun, and we are talking with thousands of Boulder voters each day to ensure they know that a NO vote on measure 310 is a vote for clean energy and local control.
Our volunteer army continues to grow, and our office can barely accommodate those who come in after work to call Boulder voters to ensure they’ve received their ballots.
If we can speak one-on-one with enough voters, we can win this fight. We could be reaching even more voters with more help–so we wanted to include how you can help from near and far.
How you can help:
- If you live in Boulder and can volunteer, please sign up–we need you now more than ever.
- If you know even 1 person who lives in Boulder, please reach out to gently remind them to vote (text, Facebook, email, call).
- At this point in the game, a donation would still make a huge impact–helping us reach more voters each and every day.
Thank you again for your support thus far. We are in awe of how you have helped us grow this grassroots campaign. This is what it looks like when a community comes together to fight for all of our futures. We are sharing your encouraging messages with our team of volunteers and are proud to fight knowing that you have our back.
Just kidding. That’s not what it’s called, but it could be. It’s Amendment 66, and it asks voters to make sure we have a great public education system in Colorado by funding a small income tax increase.
We’re voting yes, because we care about kids, duh. We were kids like a few minutes ago, and good schools are a BFD for everybody.
Let’s be clear: Colorado schools are already solid. But in the past few years, they’ve had to do a lot more with less–and it’s been getting worse. This investment will get our schools back to being great places to learn and succeed.
Passing Amendment 66 has something to help every kid be successful:
- For the nerds: they can get more of the 1:1 attention they dream about because it allows local schools to reduce class sizes & hire teachers.
- For the band geeks & artsy types: it can bring back music & art programs that have been cut.
- For the jocks: it can restore P.E. so they can get their swell on and lead healthy lives.
- For the popular kids: well…we don’t have any idea about their lives, but we assume it’ll help them too.
And BONUS, all the money raised goes into a protected State Education Achievement Fund, ensuring that it is only spent in the classroom.
Passing Amendment 66 will move our whole state forward, faster and make our tax structure more equitable. This is how we grow. It’s going to be an extremely close election, so we hope you will join us in voting yes and making sure Colorado voters know about this ballot measure!