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Volunteers across America: Louisiana

By Lauren on

My name is Max Jay-Dixon. I'm a recent Tulane graduate and a volunteer with President Obama's campaign in Louisiana.

I'm originally from Minnesota, but I moved to New Orleans to go to school. I graduated in 2011 with a degree in psychology and theatre, so I spend most of my time outside of volunteering acting in independent films. I cast my first vote in a presidential election for Barack Obama in 2008, and I knew I wanted to do something more than just vote this time around.

The reason I finally stepped up was this idea that suddenly hit me: If I'm having issues with student loan debt, for example, there are probably a lot of other people like me facing the same problem. And we're more likely to be able to do something if I talk to a lot of other students and recent graduates. I started to learn more about the grassroots organization and how the community organizing model works, and that was so powerful.

New Orleans is an incredibly diverse place, and I think it's the perfect place to build a campaign like ours. One of the successes of this organization comes from President Obama's background—he's great at firing up the community and getting all kinds of people involved. So I've really been pushing to help build something I didn't get a lot when I was in school: the chance to really get out there, and encourage the students—who can at times live in sort of a campus bubble—to attend big public events that involve a lot of people from the New Orleans area. It's been positive, and I've been happy with the results when we can pull off that kind of crossover.

Volunteering for the campaign has been very much a learn-as-you-go process for me. We have this great organizer's handbook and a ton of resources to help us out, but I've also learned by making my own mistakes. When I had my first campus event, for example, two people showed up—and neither of them were students. I realized that when I was out there tabling and talking to students, I just gave them the information about our event—I didn't get them to make a commitment to coming, or make a clear ask. Now I know: People are more likely to respond positively if they know exactly what you're asking them to do.

Because we're still laying our foundation right now, people don't necessarily see how what we're doing today is key in building toward Election Day. That's the most important thing I like to tell voters: Having people step up now and take on leadership roles, work on growing the organization and building this strong network of people who know each other and work well together—that's what will push us to 270 electoral votes. It's great to get involved closer—or really at any point—and if that's all the time you have, you should do what you can and not over-commit. But if you're ready to get involved now, that work will be so much more amplified—the impact of that will be staggering come November.

Keep up with Max and the rest of the Louisiana team by following the state blog.

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