Via Ms. Musings, I read about WHEN (Women Helping Empower Neighborhoods), a Pittsfield, MA group that helps women get involved in politics. I was particularly intrigued to learn that part of the support it provides is things like driving kids to classes and providing cooked meals to free up time for the candidates. This makes a lot of sense to me; family responsibilities are clearly one of the reasons that there aren't a lot of women in their 30s running for office.
The article reminded me of Mark Schmitt's comments about Zephyr Teachout's argument that people are hungering for connection -- not just on line, but in person, possibly over drinks, and that groups like the DNC and the ACLU should provide such opportunities as a way to get people involved. Schmitt's response is that while such meetings might be appealing to some people (young singles he thinks), the last thing he needs in his busy life is more meetings.
I thought that was an interesting exchange, because I agree with both of them. I'm aching for community, and the opportunity to feel like I'm part of a movement, not just wandering around in the wilderness on my own. But I also don't have time for lots of meetings. (I think I'm about to drop out of my local Democratic committee, because the meetings are neither pleasurable nor make me feel like I'm making a difference.)
One way to reconcile these competing needs would be to make the meetings more family-friendly. A newspaper article on WHEN describes its meetings:
Monthly meetings also do not resemble traditional political gatherings. Meetings last for precisely one hour to make the time manageable for mothers, and children are always welcome. Mattson-Brown laughed when she recalled making one presentation with her 2-year-old son holding onto her leg the entire time.
Another approach is that taken by the Mainstreet Moms Operation Blue (MMOB; formerly Mainstreet Moms Opposing Bush). They encourage you to get together with the people you already know, and to activate those networks for political ends. During the election season, they provided all the information you needed to organize house parties to write letters encouraging other moms to register and vote -- including addresses.