Town and Village

Sister District Project garners $100,000 in political donations

PUTNEY — Created and energized in response to the 2016 national election, Southern Vermont Sister District Project's purpose is to empower local individuals in playing a role within our larger political systems. And to do so by supporting grassroots change on progressive issues in state legislatures across the United States.

With creative fundraising over a series of targeted election cycles, Southern Vermont Sister District (SVSD) has raised a total of $100,000.

Recognizing that Vermont was a sustainable Democratic “Blue State,” SVSD says it used the guidance and resources of the national Sister District Project to partner and support Democratic state legislative candidates during election cycles for the key “Purple” swing states of Virginia and Pennsylvania.

“State legislatures are where many of our most vital current political issues such as reproductive health and abortion, gun control and crime, and minimum wage and unionizing are debated and decided,” organizers said in a news release. “Although under the radar at times, state legislatures across the USA strongly contribute to the quality of life for local citizenry and often play a leadership role in pulling the nation into different directions.

The national Sister District Project identifies local leaders and activists in winnable state legislative races - the majority with women and gender minority representatives and candidates of color. Since 2016, SVSD says it has backed a total of eight such legislative candidates, seven of whom won elections, and thus contributed to flipping the Virginia House of Representatives to Blue in 2018, and the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to Blue in 2022.

SVSD says it achieved its success by going beyond more traditional political activism of canvassing, phone banking, and mailings. Instead, it raises money in creative and engaging ways, such as its Soup Subscription, in which “subscribers receive a monthly quart or two of healthy and delicious homemade soup. Volunteer soup makers follow standardized recipes and donate ingredients while subscribers donate money to targeted state legislators.”

Also, SVSD has held several fundraising auctions entitled “Save Our Nation Vacation,” where potential guests bid on donated vacation homes during a generous community meal that includes musical interludes featuring popular local bands. In addition, SVSD hosted several annual Fourth of July croquet events with innovative and politically-themed wickets.

With the most recent Soup Subscription cycle for winter 2023, SVSD reached the $100,000 milestone after five years of fundraisers. Described as “small but mighty,” SVSD has the fewest members of any Sister District chapter in the nation, but is in the top 10 for fundraising.

As group co-founder Peg Alden notes, “This is a testament to how many small actions can have huge results.” And co-founder Diane Shamas adds, “Not only are we honoring our beliefs, but having fun and building community at the same time.”

From this fundraising milestone, SVSD says it is now looking energetically ahead to making a difference in the 2024 election.

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