“Hope doesn’t exist in a vacuum,” said Senator Ed Markey during a recent Facebook livestream. “It’s created by visible movement toward action.” We see this action across the Commonwealth right now, whether from our grocery store employees, healthcare workers, or the countless community members whose actions we may not praise, but who promote hope in their personal victories during the coronavirus pandemic. Senator Markey continues to inspire hope with his policies, directing federal resources to small businesses, students without internet access, and senior citizens, among many other groups vulnerable to the coronavirus crisis. There is promise in these communities, and as Senator Markey has reminded people during his recent series of online livestreams, so much of this hope now exists virtually.
Since the second week of March, Senator Markey’s team of organizers, volunteers, and supporters has moved online, transitioning into an almost entirely virtual campaign. This transition coincided with the mandatory signature collection process that each candidate for public office must complete. Team Markey called on community members all over the state to sign Markey’s nomination papers while social distancing, so the entire signature process took place via mail. In collecting these papers, the campaign connected with almost every town in Massachusetts, and here on the North Shore, the Markey organizing team continues to develop these relationships. This past Sunday, Field Organizer Jenn Meakem hosted eight volunteers on a video chat to write letters thanking local frontline workers for their service to our communities. The session focused less on Markey’s reelection effort and more on empowering volunteers to thank the workers protecting them.
“It’s just good to put into action my best thoughts and my best hopes,” said Scott Harlan, a teacher at Landmark School who participated in the Sunday letter-writing call. “I know as a teacher, I get thank you notes from my students and my families that I serve at the end of the school year, and I collect those thank you notes… and they mean the world to me, so I’m hoping that this can just be one more voice, one more small thing that just brightens a day on the other side.”
Harlan sent thanks to the employees at his local Market Basket, while other volunteers thanked neighbors working in hospitals, or a family member serving at the Chelsea Soldiers Home. As Salem resident Chris Malstrom said, “I’m not doing much else right now, so I just want to contribute in ways that I think I’m capable of doing.” Each volunteer agreed that they had wanted to thank frontline workers since the start of the pandemic but did not personally reach out until now. Finally, together on Zoom, these volunteers pulled out their stationary, channeled their feelings of gratitude, and truly got to work.
It is difficult for one event to represent an entire campaign, but in the case of Team Markey, Sunday’s community gathering was a strong symbol of progressive priorities. Markey has long practiced a model of relational organizing, building upon relationships between supporters and their loved ones in order to communicate his goals and track record. While we are all stuck at home with these loved ones, this strategy feels more relevant than ever. In times when so much community service has gone unseen, it is important that we consciously remind ourselves to recognize that frontline workers provide to us at their own risk. It is important that we watch the Facebook livestream or join the video chat or send the letter. It is in these small efforts that we honor those who serve us now, and we do not let distance become a vacuum for hope.
If you’d like to learn more about Senator Markey and his re-election campaign, please visit edmarkey.com