School's out for the summer, but PolitiCorps—a national political leadership training program, or "political bootcamp," based here in Portland—is now in session. I'm on the campus of the Catlin Gabel School, just over the West Hills, where 24 college-aged future political leaders are listening to the Bus Project's Emily Kintzer, as she gives an overview of the program.
Last year, the program registered 1300 voters, canvassed for ballot measures, and recruited political volunteers—and the PolitiCorps fellows also juggled classes that taught them how to do political organizing. It's a long, tough summer: They work all day long, seven days a week, for eight weeks. The current crop, who arrived in town over the weekend, spend the night here at Catlin Gabel, crashing on the floor in this academic building.
Kintzer polls the group, to find out why they signed up for the stint: Did they like the idea of spending a summer in Portland? A few raised their hands. How about "the appeal of learning how to do grassroots organizing?" she asked. Nearly everyone raised their hand.
Watch out for this crew—they'll be out in communities around the state this summer, with an eye toward outreach about the fall election. And after the summer's over, these folks will fan out across the country—direct Caitlin Baggott is telling the group about future opportunities in political campaigns and civic nonprofits, and how what they'll learn this summer in Oregon will prepare them for those roles, if they want them.