Washerwomen Vote 2020 FAQs

 

1. What’s the goal for WasherWomenVote2020?

To increase voter registration and mobilize voter turnout for the 2020 local, state and national elections. To get people interested in the political process, educated about the issues, and motivated to vote.

 

2. Why Washerwomen?

Our focus on washerwomen is both real and symbolic. The washerwoman represents a powerful model for leading in difficult times; one that can guide us now.

a. Since the beginning of time, someone has been doing the clean-up work! Women, for the most part, have been responsible for the laundry for their own families and as a means of income and economic survival. With little startup costs and low barriers to entry, taking in wash for others and doing laundry is one of the oldest professions and is still a point of ingress to the economy for many. As a profession, it is endless hard work and requires stamina, pride in doing a good job, and the willingness to persevere.

b. Historically and still today in many communities and parts of the world, washing clothes is a communal act. Women come together at the riverbanks, in backyards and in laundromats and work and talk and take an interest in each other’s lives. The washplace functions as a meeting place and a setting where powerful, unfettered conversations can flourish.

c. In literature, music, and theater, the washerwoman is treated as mythological presence, often depicted as sharp tongued, forthright, and willing to stand up against injustice and exclusion. In some cultures, washerwomen have been seen as politically threatening, as the mere act of gathering to wash clothes and the solidarity forged in the shared stories and mutual support of the washerwomen were seen as potentially subversive. There is truth to this as washerwomen have gained strength from each other and organized effectively to figure prominently in a number of important political movements, most notably The Washing Society and the French Revolution.

d. More than ever, we need to emulate the nitty gritty determination and the collective clean-up spirit of the washerwomen and to look to them to guide us in taking back our political process.

 

3. Who are the washerwomen?

Any person who has experienced adversity and worked through it with integrity and who has then spoken up for and supported others to do the same. The washerwoman is an archetype, an embodied model for leadership that dwells within our collective unconscious to inspire us. She represents a call to action, liberation and compassion.

Every person has the potential to be a washerwoman, yet, some individuals stand out as examples to follow. A washerwoman is someone who shows up and is willing to roll up her sleeves to tackle tough issues with honesty and to care about and carry the load with others. Those who work to make the world a better and more just place by putting the needs of the community ahead of their own.

 

4. Can men be washerwomen?

Absolutely! Washerwomen are non-gender conforming. Everyone can be a washerwoman and men who are able to live into the archetype make incredible washerwomen. By contrast, not all women qualify as washerwomen. The description of a washerwoman is characterological. It pertains to the mental and moral principles distinctive to a personality.

 

5. Why laundromats – what’s the connection between laundry and voting?

Laundromats are places where we gather and talk while we go about an important task of everyday living – we wash our clothes. Many things get sorted out at the laundromat, and not all just having to do with laundry. We might take the time to think through or talk to a friend or even a stranger about what’s top of mind. And there is a therapeutic quality to this combination of talk and action; we can come away feeling a sense of renewal and accomplishment, having eased an emotional or personal pressure while simultaneously washing, drying, and folding our laundry.

Few of us look forward to a trip to the laundromat after a full day of work but it is the cost of clean clothes and fresh sheets. It is similarly true of the voting process – at times we want to turn away; it is hard work to engage in the difficult work of democracy. Yet we want good governance and a good and just society, and so, like the washerwomen, we must show up, roll up our sleeves and get the work done. Most importantly, we owe it to all the women and men who were denied and who fought for the right to vote so that we could decide our own fates. It is to honor their hard work and sacrifice that we are focusing our campaign on the washerwoman as a symbol of grit, diligence, collective caring and renewal.

 

6. Are you really going into laundromats?

Yes, we are! We will ramp-up WWVote 2020 on January 20th with representatives in as many states as possible (along with Puerto Rico and Washington D.C.). With an estimated 22,000-35,000 laundromats across the United States, we believe that promoting voter registration and candidate visibility in community laundromats is the way to reach people who have been shut out or who have lost faith in the political process. We are encouraging candidates to meet with people in their communities by visiting local laundromats and other places where people take on the tasks of daily life. We believe this is the best way for them to learn about the everyday concerns of the average American working family, answer questions, and connect directly with potential voters.

 

7. What are your plans for WWVote in 2020?

Our plan is to mobilize the vote by raising awareness and by bringing voter registration into laundromats and to the people. We have a three-point strategy that we are promoting with the hope that our early network interactions will grow into a true community coalition.

Throughout 2020, together with you, we will:

a. OUTREACH through direct interactions, broad-based and web communications, social media, coordinated community events and in partnership with universities and mission-driven non-profit organizations

b. EDUCATE by providing web-based original content, vetted resources, public workshops, and speaking engagements

c. INSPIRE through participatory art projects using storytelling, film, photography. We will distribute promotional materials to get the word out and will host virtual teach-ins to coach others to do the same.

d. On January 20, 2020, we will be hosting a WWVote 2020 ‘Day of Action’ in laundromats across the country. January 20, 2020 is exactly one year to the day of our next presidential inauguration. This year, it coincides with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a day when the nation honors the great civil rights leader and social change activist. Martin Luther King Jr. marched in Selma for the right to vote and helped shaped the nation through the Voting Rights Act of 1965. We want to draw attention to the importance of this date and to voting. We also want to make sure that hard-working people, displaced workers and marginalized communities are valued and brought into the voting process.

e. We are building a coordinated effort to get people to the polls. After January 20th, we will leverage the connections that we make through this first Day of Action and support our network to grow into an informed, inter-dependent activist community. Our job is to nurture this process and to use our training to accelerate and share what is working.  

Our job is to kick start the campaign, provide a framework that can be scaled to meet your needs, and act as a central point of contact and conduit to each other. We will provide coaching support as well as updated information and resource materials as needed. We will continue to nurture this process, develop opportunities, and use our training to accelerate and share what is working with you.  Your job is to make it better by making it even more meaningful and relevant to you personally, share success stories, and carry it forward with others.

 

8. Are you a political campaign?

No, we are not. We are a voter registration campaign. We do not endorse any candidate or party and we are not underwritten by any candidate or party. We are a grass-roots campaign advocating full engagement in the political process through voter registration, education, and mobilization. No matter whom you are voting for or what your party affiliation, we believe 100% enfranchisement and voter education are keys to achieving and sustaining a healthy democracy. We are looking to drive a national conversation and we are supplying a framework to get that conversation started and scaled up.

We remember and are encouraged by a time when the Poor People’s Campaign, Civil Rights, Labor, Peace and Women’s Liberation movements came together to forge a unified platform for social change that was powerful, united, and fast moving. We see an opportunity to reignite and further expand that same sense of solidarity by engaging communities to come under one umbrella inspired by the courage, compassion, and true grit spirit of the washerwomen.

 

9.How do I stay updated and how can I share what I am doing?

Join our mailing list at www.washerwomenvote.com.

Follow us on Facebook @wash.thewashlineproject and tag us on Instagram @washerwomenvote and use #washerwomenvote2020. Write to us at info@washerwomenvote.com.

 

10. We want to help – what do you need?

a. Click Here For Invitation.

b. Raise your hand to work directly with us to coordinate bringing voter registration into laundromats.
Click here for instructions.

c. After reading the FAQ’s and reviewing the website get the word out by starting your own conversation about WWVote.

 

11. Why are art and storytelling so important to the WWVote strategy?

a. Collaborative art projects featuring storytelling and visual art forms allow us to solve bigger problems and connect us in ways that are deeply transformative and binding. Listening to another’s story can change us in a moment by tapping into powerful emotions and mental activities such as empathy, imagination, recall and identification.

 

12. What artforms are you using and how are you using them?

A single word uttered at the right time, in the right way, can create a universe of difference, and yet a picture is worth a thousand words. We pay attention to both words and imagery.

a. Graphic artist, Ruth Wieder, created the powerful art for our website and promotional materials. In an instant, people can grasp the concept and connect to the imagery of the washerwoman through Ruth’s stunning visualizations. Ruth’s images honor powerful women and public leaders who embody the washerwoman spirit.

b. On May 18th, 2019 in NYC, art therapist, Aimee Jette, guided more than 75 participants to work on a collaborative art project creating a one of a kind cloth with moving dedications and colorful drawings honoring washerwomen from our families of origin.

 

13. I’m “not political” – as far as I am concerned both parties are terrible, why should I vote?

You may feel that both parties are terrible but the only way to effect change is to get involved in the political process and to vote. There is no such thing as an ‘apolitical life’; everything you do, everything you buy, every important decision you make is affected by politics. Encouraging apathy is a shrewd political strategy – who benefits when you disengage from political discourse and the voting process?

 

14. Why should I vote – especially if I live in a state where my preferred candidates are already a sure thing?

Every vote counts, even when your preferred candidate is a shoe-in. By engaging in the voting process, you commit to learning about the issues and the differences in the party platforms. You earn the right to engage in political discussions and to advocate for what you believe in when you vote and since you cannot outsource your vote, you must show up or vote in advance by mail.

 

15. How can WWVote make a difference in states where we are inundated with political messaging?

Again, every individual vote counts and staying engaged in the political process takes some work. Political campaigns are contentious by nature, particularly in states that are hotly contested. In these states people are flooded with negative messaging and we have seen many opt out of the voting process. Yet, recent elections have shown us that the difference comes down to single votes in single counties. Our focus is on person-to-person engagement, voter education, and story sharing rooted in mutual respect and common ground experience. It empowers voters to cut through the negativity in order to stay involved and motivated to vote.

 

16. How can we get the WWVote program into all states, especially those that are looking to disqualify voters?

We are working on that by putting that question into our community and by reaching out state by state to ensure that we have nationwide representation. We hope to inspire activism and to offer encouragement and support through our resource links and community efforts. Our website includes links to non-profit, non-partisan voter advocacy groups dedicated to protecting voters rights and educating voters on the registration process. We believe that most Americans disapprove of voter suppression laws.

 

17. How do we convince non-voters and independent voters that it is important to vote?

We don’t believe that we can convince others to do something they do not want to do. We can, however, create the space and context for a genuine invitation. We do this by engaging in conversations that tap into deeper histories and hidden reservoirs of empathy, compassion, and understanding. We are all prone to the pressures of everyday life and these pressures are exacerbated by 24 hour hyperventilated news cycles. It is hard to stay connected and to care when the cost of care is constant worry and a sense of grief about the state of the world. And yet this is the price of democracy; if we disconnect, we are certainly doomed as our worries and grief will be further compounded by our isolation. We can only navigate this kind of terrain together. The first step is reconnecting by listening to each other’s stories. So, that’s what we do: we ask people to share their stories and we listen and are willing to share our own.

 

18. Are you looking to reach a specific demographic?

We want to increase voter registration across the board, but we particularly want to engage demographics that were underrepresented in the 2016 election.

 

19. Are you just talking about the presidential election

No, we are talking about local, state and national.

 

20. What happens after 2020?

Right now, we are focusing on this election cycle. We will see what 2020 brings and we will leverage all opportunities to raise awareness and build and expand our community efforts here in the USA and globally.


21. How are you funded?

We accept donations to offset the cost of producing materials (e.g. tote bags, buttons, magnetic bumper sticker), part time administrative services, including membership enrollment, mailings, and website and social media presence. We are a 501(c)3 corporation.


22. Are you working in partnership with other non-profits?

Not currently but we are open to and actively seeking partnerships with entities that value the engagement of every single voice in the democratic process. We encourage any nonprofit to reach out so that we may explore the possibility for collaboration.


23. What support can you offer if I want to hold an event?

We will share our web-based original content, a list of vetted resources, invite you to attend a virtual teach-in, and provide coaching and promotional materials to help anyone who is prepared to host an event.


24. How can I donate money and what will it be used for?

You can donate money on our website and any amounts are welcome. Everything else is through pro-bono contributions and volunteer efforts.


25. Is my donation tax deductible?

Yes, we are part of Blueberry Picking Productions, a 501(c)3 corporation and your donation is tax deductible. When you donate, you will receive a receipt for your records.


26. I don’t have much time; is there anything I can do in my limited spare time?

A few hours can make a world of difference, and we all have a few hours to spare when it comes to something as important as this.


27. This is important to me and I have extra time to dedicate, how soon can I get started and what do I need to know?

This is music to our ears! Reach out to us at info@washerwomenvote.com and sign up for a full briefing. We will provide a full orientation to WWVote2020 and provide guidance.