1 Apr


Louise Annarino

April 1, 2012

Year after year Mom planted grass seed on the strip of grass between the sidewalk and curb which served as our front yard; where we played football if street traffic too frequently interrupted a long pass. As the school kids rounded the corner on their way home every day, they trampled her newly sown patch of lawn. One day, after a repeated resowing, I offered to take over the task. I was embarrassed by my mother’s staccato “get off the lawn!” as the kids walked over it.

Mom handed me the hoe, rake and seed bag, “Go to it”, she sighed. An hour later, she came out to check on me. The soil had been turned and raked, but I calmly sat on the stoop holding the bag of seed. “What are you waiting for?” she asked. “You’ll see,” I replied. I had an idea after having just read TOM SAWYER.

As the kids swung around the corner, I started whistling and smiled a greeting, “Want  to throw around some grass seed with me ?”  Soon, the hoard of lawn terrors were helping me plant. At the suggestion of one helper, we then strung string from twigs gleaned from the bushes in the alley, as a barrier to keep “others” from walking over the grass. Mom appeared with a pitcher of Kool-Aid and freshly baked chocolate chip oatmeal cookies for each of us.

Over the next few days, Mom and I watched the kids lean over the string barrier, looking for signs of growth; but, no one stepped over it. The lawn was secure from then on. Kids stopped on their way home from school to greet Mom, grab a cookie, and wave to me.

This is what grassroots organizing looks like. It is not enough to give kids a bag of seed and say “Go plant; Get Out The Vote!” The leader has to plant alongside the field workers, provide them the necessary tools, accept and implement their suggestions, and offer tangible rewards other than the joy of success. A chance to meet and greet the candidate, tickets to closed events…whatever reward is easily created.

Neighborhood teams are now forming, volunteers are needed for a number of tasks:

Walking door-to-door, making phone calls, driving volunteers and voters, housing incoming field organizers, volunteers, and trainees, providing food at field headquarters, giving or loaning equipment and supplies,setting up and cleaning up after events, creating and distributing posters, flyers, mailings. Sending emails to educate, encourage and motivate more volunteers and new voters, registering new voters, helping others obtain proper ID for voting, fill out address or name-change data, raise money for candidates, encourage donations, purchase and distribute yard signs-buttons-bumper stickers, attend fairs and festivals and walk in parades on behalf of candidates, sit at tables at local and school events to sign up volunteers and distribute information or swag. there is no task too small, no effort too little. It all adds up over time to  a momentum which is unstoppable.

To plant seed alongside President Obama, contact one of the persons below:

Riley Wells,Field Director,Obama For America (OFA)


Ashley Allison, Regional Field Director, (OFA)




  1. Anita Beck April 1, 2012 at 10:13 pm #

    Hi Louise. Oh how I love this positive description of organizing and grass roots! You are so right and so insightful. Planting seeds, who would have thought?! But you have hit this nail on the head! Thank you for sharing your gift and reminding us of what we need to do collectively!

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