LOS FELIZ, Calif. – As we get closer to the local and state elections in March, and the presidential race heats up, more grassroots organizations are going into high gear.
John Ballon is making the rounds of the weekly gathering he started three years ago, one that has become known as 'Civic Sundays.'
“We started with two or three people," said Ballon. "And we just kept it going week after week after week and it became show up and do something group where you got there, you see a lot of people you're happy to see, but you wrote postcards to voters, you texted to get out the vote, you phone bank, you did things that gave you a sense that you were trying to change things, and you were reaching people.”
What started out with just a few like-minded voter activist friends of Ballon and his wife, who were particularly motivated by the current situation in Washington, has turned into an ongoing weekly commitment. A commitment that has people taking action every Sunday now in people's homes across Los Angeles.
“That we were able to form a community instead of just being a bunch of campaign driven activists who disappear after somebody gets elected, we created civic church, if you will,” said Ballon.
The group created the t-shirt that represents the important issues that inspire people to show up every Sunday. The text on the front reads, “Health care, voting rights, economic justice, equal rights, climate crisis, and tolerance."
"Tolerance, which we all used to remember," said Ballon. "Tolerance… you remember tolerance?!”
According to members like Shannon O'Rourke, this kind of boots on the ground activism is making a real difference.
“I got involved with Civic Sundays because I couldn't sit back any longer and do nothing, I had to get involved. We need to change the policy, need to change government, need to replace this office right now. So it has to start at the grassroots level. And the people like this and people like this group, we are helping to make this happen and it happens at the local level. And it changes from there on out.”
While some people are saying this wave of grassroots local activism is new, Ballon says it's actually a foundation of American history.
“I don't think that what's happening right now is new at all. I think it goes back to the founding fathers did this, abolitionists did this, and the labor movement was started in church basements, people meeting on Sundays," Ballon said. "And so this grassroots phenomenon that you're seeing is just a reactivating of kind of the old going back to basics of knocking on doors and talking to people face to face and registering voters.”
According to Ballon, the core message for Civic Sundays is to motivate, inspire and activate citizens to make their voice heard and vote.