Greater Than the Sum of our Parts

by Anita Saville

There are more than three dozen Indivisible groups in Massachusetts. Each has a unique mission. Each has its own personality. Separately, their work is amazing. Together they can greatly multiply their impact.

Collaborating on the Cape and Islands

Groups representing communities on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket have long understood the value in joining forces. By 2017, less than a year after Leah Greenberg and Ezra Levin founded Indivisible, the Cape and Islands boasted at least five local groups. The groups immediately began working together, connected with the help of Laurie Veninger from Indivisible Outer Cape.

“At first we gathered separately for the 2017 Women’s March and then Not Above the Law rallies at the rotaries in Orleans and Hyannis,” Veninger says. “We soon realized we had a common purpose and started working together on these and other events. In the summer of 2018, we held Turn Kentucky Blue/Ditch Mitch parties to raise money through donations and raffles. Over six events we raised $20,000 that we sent to a local Indivisible group in KY. This became a model for later collaboration.”

An abortion rights rally on Martha’s Vineyard

While two of the groups closed down before the 2020 election, the remaining three have turned their focus to reproductive rights — holding rallies and standouts at the windmill monument in Eastham.

“All of the groups have had calls and in-person meetings with Representative [Bill] Keating,” Veninger notes. “And we’ve joined some of the Action Teams sponsored by the Indivisible Massachusetts Coalition (IMC) that work on key issues.” Many members now work with the Feminist Action Team to publicize the dangers of anti-abortion, “crisis pregnancy centers” located in the Commonwealth and protect the area’s only reproductive health clinic in Hyannis.

“Our work has gained the attention of Governor Healey and the state’s Department of Public Health,” Veninger says.

Indivisibles engage activists in the Boston suburbs.

A couple of hours’ drive to the north and west, Indivisibles representing the towns of Acton, Andover, Arlington, Bedford, Concord, Haverhill, Lexington, and Newburyport have found similar synergies in working together. What also began as an effort to draw activists to anti-Trump and pro-choice rallies has blossomed into an ongoing strategy to both publicize and participate in a growing array of in-person and virtual events.

Concord Indivisible hosted a January 6 rally featuring Deval Patrick and Danielle Allen.

Like many Indivisibles in the state, those in the Boston suburbs have witnessed a craving for “huddles,” “activist afternoons,” and other in-person events. Concord Indivisible (CI), Greater Andover Indivisible (GAI), and Indivisible Acton Area (IAA) all now offer ongoing opportunities for their members to write postcards, make phone calls, and send texts to voters in key swing states. They readily share information with their members about each other’s events via their newsletters, e-blasts, and Facebook posts. And they often staff tables at another Indivisible’s events to expand the reach of their individual projects.

In June, when Indivisible National expects to hold a Week of Action on reproductive rights, CI expects to stage another large rally on its highly visible town green and invite our sister to come. IAA has pioneered an action website called www.TurnPurple2Blue.org to share information and promote actions with other Indivisibles, grassroot organizations, and individual activists. 

Postcarding in Andover

“This website is a resource for strategy and project ideas for their members and anyone else that is interested,” says Christine Brown, editor of the website and member of the IAA Steering Committee. 

GAI has co-hosted both in-person rallies and virtual events with Greater Haverhill Indivisible and Indivisible-RISE Newburyport, and texting groups with Indivisible-RISE and IAA. The groups have also collaborated on virtual town halls with Representatives Lori Trahan and Seth Moulton. 

“Co-hosting events with fellow Indivisible groups allows you to pool resources in a more efficient and effective way,” says Pam Poindexter, co-leader of GAI and a member of IMC’s Coordinating Board. “It can also provide the audience size you need to attract popular speakers and offer opportunities to share needs, ideas, and best practices with each other.” 

Connections increase our power.

Indivisible National is a big fan of inter-group collaboration — providing extra funds for multi-group projects through its GROW grant program, for example. IMC plans to provide a forum where groups across the state can share and collaborate together. Judy Stadtman, the regional organizer for Massachusetts, or your IMC Board Member can help you connect with neighboring groups that might be interested in collaborating with yours. 

Already know your neighbors? Maybe it’s time to send a note, or make a call, and share a cup of coffee. 

Anita Saville provides communication support for the Indivisible Massachusetts Coalition and serves on the Steering Committee of Concord Indivisible.