A Purple Cow in Miami
Posted by Morgan St. Jean on December 13, 2011
Post by Catherine Houlihan, ServeNext Organizer for Miami
Have you ever driven past a purple cow? No. Well, I bet if you did, you would stop and pay attention, right?
I first started thinking about purple cows in September at the 2011 ServeNext mid-year retreat in Boston. During one session, ServeNext Co-Founder Zach Maurin emphasized the importance of coming up with activities and events that are “purple cows” and will capture the attention of our members of Congress regarding national service.
When I got home to Miami, I immediately met with Harold Silva, ServeNext Miami Deputy Organizer, to discuss what we would do for our 2011 holiday event. I told him about the purple cow. It seemed like we had organized everything there was to organize: call days, office visits, and letter campaigns, so what could we do that would be new and different…What would be ServeNext Miami’s purple cow?
Then it hit us. Holiday ornaments. Yes, that’s right, ORNAMENTS!
Our idea was to organize an ornament decorating party for national and community service supporters to attend before the holidays. We would deliver the big batch of hand-painted ornaments to our Senator Marco Rubio with messages like: “My neighbor has a home for the holidays thanks to AmeriCorps members working with Habitat for Humanity.”
Harold and I got into serious party planning mood. We set up an online registration form where people could RSVP. If someone couldn’t come, they could submit a pledge of support, and an ornament would be decorated on their behalf.
The party took place on Saturday, December 3 at Little Haiti’s Earth-n-Us Farm. We had a great turn out including: Kevin Bulger (Collins Center for Public Policy Associate and AmeriCorps Alum), Lamont Howell (Samsung Field Marketing Manager), Derrick McCann (Best Buddies International Grant Writer), Kimberly Welcome (Best Buddies International Grant Writer), and Darrill A. Gaschler (Hands on Broward Corporate Projects Manager and AmeriCorps Alum).
In the end, we had painted twenty-four ornaments to deliver along with national service impact sheets for Florida. Perhaps most importantly, everyone who came had a blast. Check out our video from the event below.
Most people wouldn’t associate painting ornaments with advocating for national service, which is exactly why it will be effective. AmeriCorps is at serious risk, and we need new creative ideas to get the attention of our members of Congress who will be deciding whether to fund or eliminate AmeriCorps.
Harold and I are already brainstorming our next event. What will be your purple cow to help save AmeriCorps?