Event planning in your local area can be a daunting and time-consuming task. Having to coordinate events in other cities presents a whole new set of challenges. That's why we wanted to share our experience with you and hopefully save you some time and headaches.
In February of this year, Iconico was hired to work on the Voto Chilango campaign, which came out of the Instituto Electoral de la Ciudad de México (Mexico City’s Electoral Institute). The purpose of the campaign was to raise awareness amongst people from Mexico City and Mexico in general about the opportunity to participate in the country’s elections from abroad. The campaign had different phases:
According to the Migration Policy Institute, in 2014, there were close to 12 million people from Mexico living in the U.S. The participation of at least a fraction of them in Mexico’s elections would surely sway the results.
As a part of our campaign efforts, we were tasked with organizing events in three different cities to promote voter registration. We chose Phoenix, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
Anyone who has ever planned events knows that three events in one month is no easy task, especially when those events have to be held in different cities. However, it can be done with a bit of creativity and help from the people you know. Here is what we learned:
Going Where People Are
The first event we organized was in Phoenix. We called it Chilango Brunch and we partnered with a local restaurant that serves food from Mexico City (including a Torta de El Chavo) to host it. If we were looking for Chilangos, what better place to find them than a Chilango restaurant? Aside from leveraging the restaurant’s clientele, we also invited people to come learn how to register to vote in Mexico’s July 1 elections and if they had trouble registering, we offered help onsite.
We blew up an image of a Credencial de Elector, Mexico’s voter I.D., and had every person present take a picture with their face in it. We poked fun at the men taking pictures because the blown up card had the name “Margarita” on it. We even used the hashtag #TodosSomosMargarita (we are all Margarita).
Tap into existing events
The second event was in Vegas. We got very lucky because there was an event already being organized that could let us have an information booth. Of course finding that out took a lot of communicating with the local community and figuring out collectively what we could do. We contacted friends we knew in Planned Parenthood and they in turn put us in touch with Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLANevada) who were willing to help organize the event themselves to help this important cause. In the end we found out about the Cesar Chavez Celebration and decided to participate in that.
Event number three took place in Oxnard, California. Our original plan was to have it in Los Angeles but we found a friend who worked for a union in Oxnard and could could help us host it. He had connections with the community of Mixtecos in the city and that was very attractive to us. So we headed to Oxnard, bought some coffee and Pan Dulce and had the event at the Downtown Main Library.
Take time to strategize
Even though it might seem like you need to get moving on planning right away because you only have a month, it’s worth it to spend a couple of days strategizing. It’s important to just sit and think, what is the most effective way we can do this? Can we get more creative? What contacts do we have in each place and how can we leverage them? The prep work will go a long way.
Divide up the work and delegate
If there is a team (meaning more than one person), it’s beneficial if one person focuses on everything related to event one, while the other is thinking through events two and three instead of the whole team focusing on one event at a time. This way, by the time event one is done, the strategy for two and three are also done and the execution can begin. It’s much more time-efficient.
Networks are key
The importance of a wide network was once again reiterated to us. We might not have had contacts in each city we chose but we certainly knew people who did and that went a long way. Our network delivered big time during this work, making email introductions, sharing facebook posts, asking around in their community. It was amazing and we don’t speak in hyperbole. We really couldn’t have pulled it off without all the people that mobilized for us.
Ask a woman
If you need something done fast, ask a woman. Vegas was the clearest example of that this time around. We realized we had a girlfriend with contacts in Vegas, she made an introduction who then made another one and we had an event planned in a matter of 5 hours. That was gold.
While not a comprehensive list of everything you need to consider when planning events outside your city, focusing on these areas should help make the task a little easier.
Economic inequities have always been an issue, not just in the U.S. but in many countries, and make breaking out of generational poverty next to impossible. Iconico wants to confront some of the systemic and political drivers of imposed poverty. For that purpose, we are launching the inaugural Monsoon Fellowship program during the summer of 2018. The focus of the fellowship will be to research and strategize ways to alleviate the disproportionate balance of representation, support, and resources for communities of color, both domestic and foreign. Fellows will engage community members, decision makers, advocates, and politicians as well as conduct extensive research to establish a network of supporters that will assist in completing project goals.
The Monsoon Fellowship will provide training, support, and work experience to empower college students in creating self-sustaining advocacy networks, strategic planning, and analytical research of economic injustice in education and/or politics. While desired outcomes and benchmarks will be outlined along with Iconico leadership, each fellow will be wholly responsible for the success of the project. Chosen fellows will work independently while being be supported and guided by the Iconico team to complete the established work plan for the duration of the fellowship.
Click the button below to learn more about the fellowship and how to apply:
One of the important benefits of the relationship with Iconico has been how they’ve challenged me to think differently about the engagement and advocacy we are doing with partners and members, thinking of new, more effective avenues and creative solutions to put more power into the work that we do.”
The California Immigration Policy Center (CIPC) is an advocacy organization that works to improve the lives of immigrants across that state of California. Founded in 1996, in the aftermath of Proposition 187 (and other harsh federal copycats), it has become the premiere immigrant rights policy institution in the state. CIPC seeks to improve the lives of all Californians by promoting and protecting safety, health, and public benefits. They also offer a multitude of integration programs for immigrants.
CIPC’s success comes from their legislative and policy advocacy, using strategic communications, institutional organizing, and capacity building to engage policymakers and advocates all across California. CIPC focuses on building partnerships and coalitions with multiple groups, pushing for policy changes at the state and local level. With 85 member organizations, and nine regional coalition partners, CIPC has played a critical role in advancing progressive immigrant justice policies, including but not limited to:
CIPC was looking to redesign an engagement and membership model that helped them maximize their partners’ mobilization efforts, coordination, and communication. Comprised mostly of member organizations, CIPC also wanted to find a clear path for non-organization members have more intentional engagement with CIPC’s efforts.
The first step was a series of challenging discussions that helped us identify their engagement model, and how it could be structured to move supporters to a higher level of involvement. By way of weekly one-on-one coaching sessions that allowed for analysis of their internal communication channels and supports needed, a new engagement model began to emerge. Brainstorming new ideas and developing new tools for event planning, organizing, goal setting, and internal communication processes, Iconico was able to help CIPC build capacity to help attain desired outcomes.
We assisted CIPC in restructuring their engagement model to have a targeted pathway that moved both organization and non-organization members to have deeper connections and opportunities for engaging and mobilizing with CIPC’s regional coalitions, and campaign efforts.
Planning Meeting Facilitation:
A refined engagement model, including defined roles for members, was only one part of setting up CIPC for continued success. With members being engaged by multiple departments, and most departments working on separate campaign efforts, Iconico facilitated a conversation with leadership from across the organization to coordinate and streamline the new engagement model, aligning efforts with each department goals. This group was also able to develop a year-long timeline for both member communications and engagement efforts that the organization, which helped build on each other’s efforts and ensure successful integration.
What I really appreciate about Iconico is that they have been able to lead us in the direction of independence, making sure we are the ones leading, taking on the reigns of the work towards manifesting the vision we have created together.”
By: Luis Avila
One summer, I moved to the United States from Mexico to learn English. My mother was familiar to Arizona, she used to come up North to make money and support me and my siblings every few months, but I never thought we'd end up living here, my plan was to go back to Querétaro, and become an attorney. 16 years later, we are still in this country, I'm still learning English, but I'm doing something different from where I thought I'd be, and I'm loving it.
Community organizing has been my passion since friends and I started a youth publication at age 16. In a black and white magazine, we wrote about politics, culture, arts and other topics. We walked the streets of downtown and distributed them by hand, talking with other young people about their concerns and ideas, and getting in trouble with law enforcement for promoting youth voices and not asking for permission.
In these years, I realized the power of people coming together to accomplish something that they care about. We were teenagers in the age where digital communication wasn't a thing, most of our media platforms existed on paper form, TV and radio, and we lived in a country where things were changing. The economy was recovering from one of the worst financial crises in Mexican history, political parties were trying to break a one-party rule system, and an exciting social movement lead by indigenous people demanded respect and autonomy to make their own decisions, inspiring our generation to learn more about alternative economic and social structures, the role race, class and gender play in our societies, and the possibility of building a more equal and just world.
Moving to the United States was difficult. I had to learn a new language as an adult, experience a culture that I only knew from movies and television, and realizing new social dynamics: people who looked like me worked in service, people who looked like those I saw on TV signed our checks and owned the buildings. This always stuck with me.
In the first years in the US, I met many young people trying to get an education, frustrated by not having the means to accomplish that dream. I spoke to parents who endured the sacrifices of migration to offer their children a good education, only to learn that very few of them would actually make it. I saw other communities of color oppressed and discarded through institutional and overt racism. I also witnessed large segments of the population excluded from the civic process, not able to demand a better life for their communities. All of us, fighting our own fights as hard as we could, sometimes in silos, most times with limited resources and tools, every time with the desire and passion that fueled most of the social progress accomplished until now.
When I started Iconico, I wanted to help organizations build advocacy capacity, get an outside perspective on ways to grow, engage and mobilize communities, and better ways to support and manage campaigns and people. Partnering with national and local organizations has been a humbling experience. I've been able to learn from diverse leaders trying new approaches to social change, righting some of the most pervasive wrongs in our society, and identifying new tools to help organizations become more effective in their work.
While I'm proud of the experiences I've been privileged to gain in the last 14 years, I'm still figuring out how to improve efficiencies with Iconico. I'm excited to tackle challenges of knowledge management, and strengthening systems that help clients track the value we offer. There are easier things too: I'm still insecure about my English, especially my writing, that's why I'm looking for a partner to communicate in more accessible and efficient ways with organizations and people, producing documents that we feel proud of, that build true advocacy capacity in organizations in all corners of the US.
I'm taking a scary step and hiring Iconico's first full-time team member. I'm excited to be the best manager possible, learn from this person's perspective, and offer the best value we can to the organizations we partner with.
I decided that it was time to own my present, partner with community leaders, learn from people in working to determine our future. It's time to also be vulnerable, communicate our needs, and build the assets we need to continue the fight. It's our time, and I'm excited to partner with you!
Join the Iconico team, the application deadline is July 28th, 2017.