Behind the various grassroots organizations that have made great strides, notably this past year, lies driven organizers with a passion for advocacy and the skills to intersect cultural work with rallying the masses.
Xander sits down with one such organizer, Vanessa Wruble, to discuss the Youth Climate Strikes, campaigns, and the importance marches have on building coalitions. Wruble is a journalist, activist, and co-founder of the first Women's March held in Washington in 2017. As the Executive Director of March On, Vanessa works to engage leaders and organizers in building political power.
She shares how she was inspired to engage at a young age, questioning inequality while growing up as a Quaker, "Everything I've done as a grown-up has been, in a sense, towards creating a better world for more people.", She says.
One of Wruble's missions is to change the inner workings of our nation and its perspective of others; through her organization, she started with Questlove, OkayAfrica. She wants people to appreciate, as she says, "the culture that's super relevant," and not just the wars and famine. This type of intersectional sensibility is what drives Wruble's work even after the Washington March. She realized while networking with other advocates that "What we wanted to do was, take that moment and create political power." She says.
Vanessa sees March On as the legacy of The Women's March, and she continues to use marches to bring new leaders together, such as with the 2019 Climate Strikes that hosted 50K youths but notes it's not the ultimate goal. "It is a tool. It is not the end goal because simply by marching, things don't change," says Wruble, "By marching, you get to connect with other people that care a lot about the issue, you get to meet people to organize with after the march, you get to feel like you're not alone in the battle that you're fighting."
With that, she attributes the Women's March on Washington as a significant player in the role of 2020 presidential, senate, and house elections. "The Women's March was the first act of resistance when Trump got elected," says Vanessa, and because of this, urges we must continue to organize. "We need to continue the momentum. 2022 is tomorrow.", she says, "We are very central in the climate change fight." Wruble insists that we "threw down in Georgia" and need to continue flipping other states.
While rallying the people seems easy, Wruble acknowledges the progressives' limitations in mobilization. "Getting people on board is the hardest part and the most important thing; everyone needs to say, 'Yes." She says, "There's a role for everyone," but the Left struggles with limited resources, which is part of her motivation to launch new projects, making it easier to get people involved.
"You have to be able to envision a better world if you're going to fight for it," Vanessa says, "and you have to be able to envision something being possible even if it's actually not possible at that very moment, but if you don't envision it being possible you can't move, you're frozen in place. So first you have to say, 'A different world is possible."