Reflections from Democracy Summer
Guest Bloggers: Luke Pinton and Jalakoi Solomon, Co-Directors of the Democracy Summer Internship Program
Each student intern brought enthusiasm, energy, and ideas about how to propel the campaign forward. The energy of the interns was contagious and we hope to capture their spirit in these brief reflections and highlights from the summer.
Pictured: Jamie with some interns showing off our first shipment of yard signs—a big day on the campaign trail
When we first launched the Democracy Summer program, we didn’t know what to expect. We had heard of the amazing success of Jamie’s internship program back in his 2006 underdog Senate race and were hoping to recapture the energy we had heard about. After three months of working side-by-side with our impressively devoted and precocious 2015 Summer Associates, we knew we had become part of a remarkable tradition and we definitely feel proud of what we accomplished.
Like Senator Raskin always says, he puts education at the heart of political organizing, and the Democracy Summer intern program totally braided education and politics together.
The daily guest speaker lunch discussion series was an integral part of our program. We got to hear from leading intellectuals, activists and public officials on issues as diverse as testing and educational reform, the future of drug policy, criminal justice reform, addressing climate change and other environmental challenges, human rights and U.S. foreign policy, animal welfare, and more. The discussions were electrifying!
The interns deeply appreciated hearing the speakers, learning about their careers, and collecting their wisdom. Every day was a profound political education for the interns! We were joined by Maryland State Senator Doug Peters, Chair of the Senate Majority Caucus and Chair of the Veterans’ Caucus; Jamie’s former student Kate Kelly, a human rights lawyer and activist for gender equity within the Mormon Church; former HUD Assistant Secretary and Barney Frank’s former Chief of Staff Peter Kovar (who is coordinating Jamie’s policy advisors and is himself now running for Takoma Park City Council); Washington College of Law Professor and gay rights activist Tony Varona; Michael Collins of the Drug Policy Alliance; Eric Sterling of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation; Congressional Chief of Staff Dara Postar; Toni Holness and Sarah Love, legislative lawyers for the Maryland ACLU; and Chloe Waterman and Kenny Torrella of the Washington Humane Society. Believe us when we say there was never a shortage of interns to ask questions and engage with speakers--and enjoy the lunch of the day which was sometimes provided by our speakers!
There were some unforgettable moments as we watched our program expand to over 50 students: launching our very first canvass; attending community fairs in Frederick County and watching Jamie win a stuffed animal at the baseball throw; bringing a large, loud, and happy contingent of students and volunteers to the Memorial Day parade in Rockville, the 4th of July parade in Takoma Park, and the Labor Day parade in Kensington; volunteering together at different charitable organizations in the district; engaging with impressive guest speakers at our office headquarters in Silver Spring; and hanging out together at our retreat on the Eastern Shore after a week of door-knocking.
Pictured:Peter Kovar speaking to Democracy Summer interns
In addition to our fantastic guest speaker series, community service was another integral part of the Democracy Summer program. The interns participated in several food banks and formed a special partnership with the poverty-fighting nonprofit “A Wider Circle,” founded by AU’s own Dr. Mark Bergel. The interns came up with the idea to incorporate community service into the program and executed the planning and selection for service projects. Their commitment to public service was truly impressive and a game-changer for #TeamRaskin. In addition to focusing on the big picture of getting Jamie elected and changing Congress, the team was thinking about constant community involvement and how to uplift our community.
Pictured: Summer interns serving at a mobile food bank in Silver Spring
Pictured: Summer interns volunteering at A Wider Circle, an organization dedicated to ending poverty
With the majority of the students returned to school, the office is eerily quiet compared to the usual cacophony of the past few months. We celebrated their work and said farewell with a retreat at the Eastern Shore and a cookout at the VFW post in Takoma Park. Despite those send-offs, we haven’t quite accepted that we are losing most of this fantastic group to a new school year. We will miss the constant flow of the interns coming and going at Raskin HQ but are looking forward to seeing them again during holidays and school breaks—and some have already come back! We wish to thank each of you individually for your contributions, and please know that we appreciate each and every one of you this summer for your hard work and participation in Democracy Summer.
A million thanks to each and every one of you who spent this summer working with us on the campaign. We are now currently recruiting for the fall 2015 internship program and are looking for hands-on, dedicated interns who want to dive into the political arena of the 8th district. If you are interested, email firstname.lastname@example.org for an application or click here.
Pictured: Summer interns Alonso, Ross, Mihir, Josh, Avi, Grayce, and Michelle A. hanging out at the Democracy Summer Thank You BBQ
Pictured: Staff, volunteers, and summer interns Michelle A, Mike, Adam, Jake, Will, and Noah preparing to canvass in Somerset
Pictured: Summer interns Mihir, Emily, and David taking a break from playing tennis (left) and Alonso, Josh, Avi, and Robin (right) hanging out in the pool at the Eastern Shore Retreat
Summer intern Madison and her little sister (left) with Senator Raskin at the Takoma Park parade on July 4th and interns Avi and Alonso (right) working hard during call time
Pictured: Interns proving that you're never too old for naps at lunchtime
Meet your staff bloggers:
Luke Pinton, Co-Director of Democracy Summer Internship Program
After growing up in rural Harford County and defending Democratic politics with only a handful of other Harford Democrats, I majored in Government and Politics at UMD. While at UMD, I served as the Board Chair of a student run non-profit, Maryland Public Interest Group, and ran a successful campus-wide referendum campaign to secure student funding for the organization. In my senior year, I worked with the Student Government to push for and pass an "intern protection" bill in the General Assembly. During session, I interned for Jamie in his State Senate office where I learned much from him and his staff about how to maintain a responsive and effective legislative office. Organizing the droves of volunteers and interns that have joined me in this campaign isn't easy work, but I know that what I am doing will make a big difference the campaign's ability to get Jamie's message of effective and progressive leadership to voters in the 8th Congressional district.
Jalakoi Solomon, Co-Director of Democracy Summer Internship Program
As the co-director of the Democracy Internship Program, I work with Luke to manage our summer class of over 50 interns and our rising class of fall interns. We coordinate short and long-term field and community outreach projects, including door-knocking and phone banking, policy research, yard sign delivery, intern-run meet and greets, fundraisers and more. This is the third campaign I've worked on in the last year or so and from the very first day, I have been so impressed by all of the enthusiasm and energy the interns bring to the campaign. This summer has been an extremely rewarding experience and I am very excited to work with all of our young supporters, from within the 8th district and beyond. Be on the lookout for our Fall Intern Proram and I look forward meeting each and every one of you out on the campaign trail!
Pictured: Staff at the Democracy Summer Thank You BBQ (from L to R); Marshall Cohen, Luke Pinton, Christa Burton, Jalakoi Solomon, Senator Jamie Raskin (center), Samantha Brown, Dena Goodman, Aaron Jarboe, Jason Alinksy