Earlier this year, young organizers carried on the energy and urgency of the historic March For Our Lives by holding over 200 “Town Hall For Our Lives” events in communities all across America.
Dozens of members of Congress attended, and dozens more were called out by organizers and local press for their non-attendance.
This October, we’re doing it again--this time inviting candidates for Congress and statewide office to take the time to listen to the young people they are asking to represent.
This is your moment. Organize a Town Hall For Our Lives the week of October 23 and make the people who say they’ll represent you listen to the issues that matter most.
Here are 6 simple steps to organizing your Town Hall For Our Lives event.
Step 1: CONNECT with other activists
Don’t shoulder this alone. If you’re not already part of a local March for Our Lives chapter or other grassroots group, connect with others in your area who can help plan this event.
We strongly suggest that you don’t partner with partisan organizations for this event. One easy way for a candidate to decline to attend is pointing out that the event is co-hosted by an organization from the opposing party. We encourage you to make these events non-partisan to broaden their scope.
Need help finding others in your area to work with? Email us!
Step 2: FIND a venue
The biggest choice you’ll make is where to hold your event. You want an appropriately-sized venue. This can vary by community--so use your judgment and don’t hesitate to consult other local activists about locations they’ve successfully used in the past.
And you also want to find a place as convenient as possible for people to attend in your district. Some districts are small, some encompass entire states. In rural areas, consider drive time. In urban areas, think about proximity to public transportation options.
Whenever possible, work with activists in your area who have experience holding events. Don’t hesitate to ask for low or no cost use of a space--you may find venue owners willing to offer discounts because they support this cause.
Make sure the venue has:
Good places to start include:
Choose a time of day that best fits your community. Try to find a time when the maximum number of your fellow constituents will be available.
Step 3: INVITE the Candidates in your district/state
Make sure candidates in your district have no excuse for skipping this event. Invite them as early as you can--and through multiple channels if possible.
Give them all relevant details about your event and the host organization, if any. Let them know this event is about asking candidates to listen to the issues that matter to young people, not to try to boost one campaign over another.
Don’t accept a vague excuse. If they can’t make the day you propose, ask if they can commit to a different one. If at all possible, we strongly encourage you to find common ground. If they are serious about meeting their constituents, they will make time.
Invite any and all declared candidates for that congressional district. Reach out to candidates of both parties and any significant independent or third-party candidates as you see fit. We recommend Ballotpedia as a resource to find all candidates who’ve filed to run for Congress in your district.
Need help? Email us and we’ll offer some guidance.
Step 4: GET THE WORD OUT
Submit the event to Town Hall Project--we’ll share with March For Our Lives and other partner organizations and broadcast to thousands of people in your district.
Invite local media. Make sure this event has an impact beyond just the people in the room--let local press know the details as early as you can. For more on how to get the news media in your community to cover your event, see our Media Guide.
Spread the word on social media. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Patch. If you aren’t on a platform, find a fellow activist who is and will help get the word out. Encourage all of your leadership team and your members to do the same.
If you’re part of a local grassroots group, email, call, and text your members.
Invite other organizations in the district:
Step 5: RUN a great event
Talk through every step with your fellow organizers--you might find you’re forgetting a key detail. Make sure you know exactly who has the keys, access to the lights and PA system, any parking restrictions, etc. Talk through who will take mics into the crowd and how you’ll choose questioners. Every small detail matters.
Coordinate with the member of Congress’s staff (or candidates’ staffs) on timing, entrances and exits, holding room for the candidate before the event begins, rooms for potential press interviews, and other details.
Make sure to remind your attendees the day before the event. Confirmation calls/texts/emails are the key to a well-attended event.
Get there early. Millions of Americans are energized by this movement--you’ll find attendees there earlier than you expect.
Encourage attendees to share personal stories and ask serious questions that require the member of Congress to give a specific answer.
Have an activist livestream the event on Periscope, YouTube Live, Facebook Live or another format and let us know so we can help spread the word.
Use this as an organizing opportunity! You want this event to be a success. But it’s the beginning of this fight, not the end. Have tables set up to collect emails and phone numbers of people willing to join the effort. Register voters.
Ask your member of Congress--or candidates--when their next Town Hall will be? Get a commitment from them before they leave.
For more, see our How to Run a TOWN HALL FOR OUR LIVES Guide.
Step 6: Maximize your IMPACT
Post images and stories from the event on social media and tag @townhallproject, @AMarch4OurLives, your member of Congress (or candidates), and any other groups part of organizing the event.
Upload videos to Town Hall Project and we’ll share powerful moments with the press and partner organizations to amplify them.
Start planning your next event or action! This fight doesn’t stop here. Keep the momentum going!
By choosing to attend this event, you are committing to participate nonviolently and in accordance with the law, to work to de-escalate confrontations with others, and to obey the orders of authorized event marshals and of law enforcement. You also acknowledge that you are solely responsible for any injury or damage to your person or property resulting from or occurring during this event and that you release all event sponsors and organizers (and their officers, directors, employees, and agents) from any liability for that injury or damage.