Indivisible Howard County MD Charter

Who We Are

IndivisibleHoCoMD is an informal group of residents in Howard County, MD who believe in fairness, tolerance, inclusion, and democracy.

Vision

An America where elected officials represent all people fairly and with respect and where people who value fairness, tolerance, inclusion, and truth participate actively in democracy

Mission

  • To increase effective citizen engagement in the democratic processes that enable responsible self-governance and drive real change to
  • Enact the reforms described in HR-1, HR-4, and HR-51 and similar legislation at the local, state, and national level to protect all citizens’ right to vote, enhance voter access, and ensure fairness and equal representation in elections
  • Take action to democratize the media and hold it accountable to provide truthful balanced information to the public
  • Enact laws and policies to ensure racial justice, fair treatment of immigrants, universal access to affordable healthcare, education and economic opportunity, and an aggressive response to the Climate Emergency
  • Increase the number of elected representatives who support democracy

Principles

IndivisibleHoCoMD advocates actions based on whether they will be effective to

    1. Lay the foundation for a government and political system that represents all the people, fairly and with respect. We demand that our own local Members of Congress serve as our voice in Washington, DC. and that our state and county officials reflect our values.
    2. Promote progressive values. We will model inclusion, respect, fairness, truthfulness, and non-violence in all of our actions.

Strategy

  • Despite our successes in the 2020 elections, democracy remains in peril. We have more work to do.  Not enough Americans are able to take an active part in their own democracy. Therefore, our strategy is to
  • Create a network that encourages all members to learn and grow as confident citizen activists. We seek to give members the knowledge, skills, opportunity, and confidence to act. 
  • Identify or create concrete actions (phone calls, media pieces, town halls, etc.) which all members can participate in to put pressure on/ give leverage to our elected officials to enact policies that support our mission, and which have a realistic chance of impact.
  • Identify high impact opportunities for our members to help increase the number of elected officials who support our mission, both in Maryland and in other states.
  • Provide community and support to help sustain our members in their activism for the long haul.
  • Share information and resources with local organizations that share our goals and principles and collaborate on shared projects. Where feasible, partner with other like-minded groups across the country to form a powerful citizen action coalitions.
  • Stay centered in Howard County as the base of our constituent power. People from other counties are welcome to join but most local actions will focus on what we can achieve as residents of Howard Country.  We will support members who wish to form local Indivisibles in their own counties.
  • Our strategy is not to create a conventional nonprofit focused on fundraising and brand management. There are plenty of organizations like that already, and the current crisis is too dire to allow such diversions of energy.  We do not engage in fundraising (except on an as needed basis to pay for room rentals, etc.)
Organizational structure

Indivisible HoCoMD is a decentralized network that promotes individual initiative and responsibility.

    1. Membership is based on application, and accepted after a brief vetting by the Communications team to ensure the motivation is sincere (i.e. no trolls).  All members will be added to a listserv to receive regular updates about actions they can take that are likely to be effective in advancing the mission.  They will also be invited to join the private Facebook page Members are encouraged to join in as many actions per week as they are able to and to share action updates with their personal networks.  Members can communicate with each other through the private Facebook page and can email IndivisibleHoCoMD@gmail.com to ask questions, make suggestions, or be put in touch with any of the actions teams.  They can also use Twitter to start or amplify messages.  Periodic email polls will be used to assess how useful members find the updates and other communications/actions, and to gather suggestions.  In person meetings of the membership will be held a few times a year.
    2. Action Teams. Members can join Action Teams to focus on a specific topic of interest.  If there is no existing Action Team for that topic, they can start one as long as it supports the mission of IndivisibleHoCoMD. 

To start a new Action Team, interested members need to submit to the coordinator:

  1. A mission statement and immediate objectives for the coming year. The Action Team mission must directly relate to the organizational mission and must be framed to include national, state and county policy.  This does not mean that the Team will take action at all three levels, but a Team mission needs to be larger than a single action or pet project.
  2. The names and contact information of 2 facilitators for that team
  • A tentative meeting schedule (may be in person or by phone, but should be at least once a month)

The coordinator will bring the information to the next Facilitators meeting for discussion and approval.  Approval will be based on whether there is sufficient member interest, willing facilitators, and an appropriate mission.

Action Teams are responsible for educating themselves about their topic (especially relevant legislation and the positions of our elected officials) and identifying or developing actions that the entire membership can participate in, which will then be communicated to the membership through the email update.  Actions could include a brief script for phone calls to a specific representative on a specific bill or topic, letters to the editor, meetings with elected representatives, rallies and town halls.  A first step should be to identify whether any other local group has already developed something for that topic which can be passed onto the membership, and then to develop new actions if a gap is identified.  Once the Action Team has decided that an action is important, they should write up a summary for the Facilitator to send to the coordinator to include in the next email update.   The summary should be short (what is it, why it is important, what members should do) and should include all necessary information for members to act without having to look up additional information.  In particular, action teams should verify currency of action, numbers, and links before sending to the Coordinator.  Simple actions (calling a representative about an ongoing policy issue such as the ACA, or informational events) do not require approval by the Facilitators Team.  Large public actions (rallies and town halls) and advocacy for or against county or state legislation should be discussed in the Facilitation team and coordinated with other allied groups in Howard County before any major steps are taken.  Financial commitments or public positions should not be taken without consulting the Facilitation team. 

Other responsibilities.  Action Teams should assign members to keep the Team webpage up to date and to maintain a Twitter and Facebook presence.

Disbanding Action Teams.  Action teams should meet (in person or by phone) at least once a month.  If a team has not met for 3 months, does not send representation to 3 facilitator meeting sin a row, or has no facilitator, the Facilitation Team will consider it disbanded unless there are extenuating circumstances (such as planned hiatus). 

  1. Action Team Facilitators. Each Action Team should have 2 facilitators.  Facilitators of Action Teams are responsible for calling meetings of the action teams, developing agendas, keeping the team on track, and maintaining team lists.  At least one facilitator should attend every Facilitator meeting.  Facilitators are responsible for making sure action items are accurate and well prepared and sending them to the Coordinator to be included in the email updates, and for keeping the webpage up to date.  Facilitators should coordinate action planning with other similar groups in Howard County, Maryland, and nationally.
  2. Coordinator. The Coordinator is responsible for working with the Communications team to send out regular email updates to the membership, calling Facilitation Team meetings, moderating meetings of the membership, supporting the facilitators of the different action teams, keeping core documents updated, coordinating with the national Indivisible, and keeping all work aligned with the mission. 
  3. Facilitation Team meetings. Organizational decisions are made by consensus by the facilitators of the Action Teams plus the Coordinator.  These meetings are held every month or as needed.
  4. Communications infrastructure
    1. IndivisibleHoCoMD@gmail.com
    2. Facebook – secret
  • Website
  1. ActionNet (RSVPs)
  2. Facebook – public
  3. Twitter
  1. Finances. IndivisibleHoCoMD is not a fundraising organization. We will ask for small voluntary individual donations at events to defray the costs of those events, such as rent.  Donations will be tallied and recorded by the Finance committee, who will hold any funds collected in excess of what was needed for the specific event.  If there is a positive balance, the Finance Committee may allow for expenditures on other organizational items on submission of receipts and as approved by the Facilitation Team such as website rental or office supplies for rallies and town halls.  The balance should not exceed the amount necessary for the next room rental, office supplies for the event, and essential infrastructure (website, PO Box, and mailing software).
  2. Organizational review. The Facilitation team will review the charter and IndivisibleHoCoMD’s progress towards its mission every year in preparation for the annual meeting.  If it becomes apparent that we are not drawing new people into activism but simply enrolling the same people who are already involved in other organizations, we will consider disbanding.  Similarly, if this organization is not providing useful support to members, we will consider disbanding.

7)  Endorsements and relations with elected officials and staff. [NOTE: This section is under review]

  • In public partisan elections, IndivisibleHoCoMD will in most cases support Democrats, given that our overarching goal is to resist Trump’s agenda and the Republican party unequivocally supports the Trump agenda. Electing as many Democrats to federal, state and local positions is key to supporting the liberal, inclusive goals that repel us from the Trump agenda.  We may consider supporting Independent candidates if they have a track record of actively and vocally opposing the Trump agenda.
  • For primary partisan elections, we will be neutral with respect to various Democratic and independent candidates. We will list the names of all candidates and their websites on our election information web page, but we will not list links to campaign events or to sign-up for support activities.
  • After the primary election, or where there is only one Democratic candidate as of the end date for primary candidate registration, IndivisibleHoCoMD may support Democratic or independent candidates whose views are consistent with the articulated views of the member groups.  This support may include listing campaign information and volunteer opportunities in our web pages, newsletters, and other communications.
  • In specific cases it may be beneficial to be involved prior to the primary in a way that promotes a level playing field, for example: supporting a debate for the governor’s race with another group or helping to articulate the finer points on candidates’ positions to inform voters.  Such choices will be made on a case by case basis by the member group’s leaders.
  • Non-partisan races (need to add section from Education team)
  • Any Democratic or independent candidate or elected representative whose views are consistent with the articulated views of the member groups may be a member of IndivisibleHoCoMD. They may not be facilitator of an Action Team because one purpose of Action Teams is to lobby elected officials.