Des Moines Oral History Project

Interviewee: Madeline Cano

Interviewer: Caroline Hempleman

Date: November 14, 2017


Caroline: Okay, well okay, I just had a quick question before we like

Madeline: Sure!

C: started moving into the future, about um like since you have reconnected with your grandparents in the recent years, how has that changed your, like who you are or your habits, or has that changed your day to day life at all?

M: Mhm, I think um, in terms of like day to day life, it’s not like too much different although, i feel like since I’ve reconnected with my grandparents I’ve tried to be like, more culturally aware, um and sort of like implemented those things that like we didn’t get to do together that we now do together. So like I have family in Eastern Iowa, like my grand- they’re basically like my great aunts and great uncles. And so, you know trying to get there as much as I can. Um and you know, doing those sort of things. Like, my Aunt Molly, before she passed away last year was, you know, once a month she would like make tamales and everyone would go over to her house and like do that sort of stuff. And so that sort of stuff, in terms of like day to day, not much has, I don’t think a ton has changed about like the day to day. Um [laughter], I would say the one thing is, they are very catholic, and they are like very much trying to get me to reenter [laughter].

Okay [laughter].

M: The Catholic church and it’s like, no thank you. [laughter]

C: That’s another thing I was going to ask you about, because you said you are like a recovering Catholic, you referred to yourself.

M: [laughter], yeah, yeah.

C: Um what, like what was it that kind of pushed you away?

M: Several things, um I think, the one thing that I liked, so there’s two things that I liked about it. So, I went, I was raised Catholic, like went to Catholic school up until college, um and I liked the constant like push from my educators and you know priests to sort of be like questioned and ask why. Like that’s always something you be pursuing in your faith, is like asking why. And I liked that, but at the same time it was, ‘but don’t ask too much because you should just do what we say.’ and I don’t know, it was more like my inner conflict with like science and reason, and faith. But, the point of religion is to reflect, to do self-reflection to make yourself a better person, and I think some people take it too literally. And so, my church was, growing up, was super institutional. And it was very much, and also like Catholics it’s very much repent! and save 15 hail Mary’s, that’s how Catholics are, it’s like always be guilty. Um, and I didn’t really care for that too much. Um, so there were those aspects of it, and my church was pretty institutional, so it was very much, for me I felt it was more about money than it was about the actual making yourself a better person. I think it impacted me, like I mean, clearly I have a conscience, but I also think that me being raised that way has guided me to here in that, you know, I chose a career that is based on my moral compass versus my pocket book, right?

C: Mho

M: Um, so there’s that aspect that turned me away. Also, when I was younger I tried getting more involved with like, with the church and doing things, and it was very much, ‘you’re a woman and so no’ and I hated that and I just thought why? Why am I not allowed to stand over there, but like I have to be over here, and that’s sort of gradually changing. But I would say Catholics are the slowest to adapt to that, and so you know, I wasn’t into that either. So, and then I just at some point sort of stopped going, to church. Mainly because I felt like, you know I don’t believe in this stuff and it’s unfair to the people that are here that do believe in this sort of thing. So, um, that’s kinda like where I was at. And also, so in high school I had this teacher, um his name was James Sanders, and he, most of our teachers were nuns or women, we really didn’t have a male teachers, so he was one of the only male teachers that we had. Um, but he was very philosophical. He taught in philosophy and religion, he taught peace and justice. And so, that was kinda of my first connection with social justice and religion, they’re both very heavily intertwined. And if you look at any faith, it is very social justice oriented. And so it’s funny to me, thinking politically, you know you have a lot of people on the right who tend to rely a lot of religion, and so for me it’s like how are you not making the connection. You know, it’s like, we have a poster, oh it’s not in here it’s in the other one. But it’s like, ‘When I feed the homeless people call me a saint. When I ask why people are homeless they call me a communist.’ (5:09) And that always sticks out to me because that I think is, people are very comfortable with the church taking care of everybody [saying something to someone that walked in the room] Um, so that quote always stuck out to me because it’s very I think, evident of what religion is. And some religions are completely different, like have you participating at all in the Comparison Project at Drake?

C: Yeah

M: I think that’s been really interesting, I think religion is super interesting, I just, you know I can’t, I haven’t found my place

C: Right

M: and don’t really know if I want to find a place in it.

C: Yeah, that’s fair.

M: But comparing like how I was brought up, Catholism, to you know, Sikhs and Buddhists, and you know Muslims, it’s like it’s just interesting to see. Like if I would have gotten to choose which religion I wanted to participate in, it probably would have been like Buddhism or Sikhism.

C: Yeah

M: Like that to me, I identify more to that than I would, you know because there is no like God or deity, you’re focusing on yourself and everyone’s equal and more reflection, as opposed to, ‘there’s someone who’s waiting to punish you’ [laughter] it’s sort of weird.

C: Yeah [laughter] I agree with that. Um, so is it your grandparents then, they would like you to get back into it.

M: That’s also very cultural, right? And generational.

C: Right.

M: And that’s the same on my mom’s side. My mom’s grandparents, like my grandma goes to adoration everyday and my, my grandpa like reads the lector every Sunday. And they go, it’s just is, that is what they do, because generationally that is what they did. And on my dad’s side, if you you’re Mexican and you’re not Catholic it’s like, “oh my gosh, something’s wrong with you” So, it’s just a lot, and I even see that with my you know friends who are my age who are you know, like I would say more in touch with their cultural side, or like my DACA friends are like super super Catholic and like faith and religion is just a big part of their house and like you go to their house there’s like a Virgen statue. You know, that just, you know, and it is, that’s, but it’s also like in work sometimes we’ll have folks come in and, um, we had this, this incident, that’s sort of been coming up, but it’s being handled by the attorney general’s office, but it’s um a fraud case. Several people in the community are being taken advantage of with money laundering, because the woman who’s doing it, who’s laundering the money is telling them, you have, like God is mad at you and you have this bad juju or whatever, these bad spirits, and the only way to get rid of it is if I clean your money. So it’s like bring me as much money as you can and I’ll clean it for you and do this like spiritual thing, and then you’ll be good. So, that aspect of it you know, culturally is like, you know I have other members that are like, well I’m just gonna you know, we’re just gonna pray about it. And I’m kinda like, mmm okay, but let’s do something too.

C: Yeah

M: You know, I respect you wanting to pray about it, but sending a thought out into the world is not going to solve any problems. And I have issues with complacency in religion, where it’s like constant, well let’s just pray about it, No! It actually gets me like very angry when I see people like, ‘I’m going to pray for you’ like please don’t, please don’t. [laughter]

C: [laughter] yeah

M: Because, in what way has that, going to

C: Yeah, there’s more action that needs to be done.

M: Right, yeah it’s fine if you want to think about me, thank you and I appreciate that, but if you’re not going to help with the situation at all, then just please go away. [laughter]

C: That’s fair.

M: It’s part of people’s conscience I think, so.

C: Yeah, that’s understandable

M: So, a very weird, but it’s funny, so we here, I mean the faith community is so intertwined with CCI. And I’m very close with several pastors in the area, just even as friends. So actually over at First Christian, I don’t know if you’ve ever been over there, Ryan Arnold is the pastor over there, you’d know him if you saw him. He’s like 7ft tall, very funny, loud person. Um, very good friend and constantly is kinda like, ‘you know Maddie, that sounds like that like you know your faith calling.’ And i’m like stop, shh shh.

C: [laughter] that’s not necessary!

M: Shh, he’s like, ‘oh, I’m just saying’ Like I understand, but you know, I just can’t, it’s hard for me to deal with sometimes, with the faith community because it’s like constant, like well we’ll just be there for them and we’ll serve and it’s like I understand you’re gonna need to do like a coat drive or a food drive, like I appreciate all of that stuff that you guys do, but is there more?

C: Yeah

M: Is there another aspect you’re not looking at? You know?

C: Mhm

M: And it’s a lot of, well we don’t want to be rude, we should question people that are like, that’s their job they know what they’re doing. Well, they don’t! They don’t know what they are doing. They were elected by the way, so they’re not, you know, it could be literally it’s popularity contest, let’s be honest. You know it’s not an intelligence, they don’t take a test and then get elected, that’s not how it works. (10:24) It’s, uh I really like him, he can be as dumb as a doornail. There are some people where it’s like, “Ah, no, how did you get in here” [laughter] no!

C: [laughter]

M: So, that’s a shorter version I suppose of how that came to be.

C: Alright, Um, with your, when you were growing up with, with like your other grandparents, and they’re German is that right?

M: Mhm

C: Um, and did you, were you connected to your German culture at all or like what, was there any cultural tradition?

M: No .and maybe it’s like, I just didn’t see it as a cultural tradition of like, you know

C: Yeah.

M: I would say, no. Um, and in terms of generationally they’re pretty similar. It might just be that, you know, Europe, America is more you know, it’s closer or it’s more, it’s similar than, because people came from there and whatever, took over everything else, so it’s like I think that people just like, there’s a disconnection maybe a little bit. I think at least with European roots, or eastern European roots, unless you have like a first gen grandparent that like lived in that country and then now is here. You really don’t keep a lot of that stuff. I mean I don’t really like remember, the only thing is food. Food would be like the only thing that I can think of that would be something that was evident that I was like, ‘oh okay, this is like different’ or ‘we do this you know and it’s different’. But other than that, not really. Um, so I always thought that that was just interesting. Why that’s you know.

C: Right

M: You know, why is that um or maybe it’s just that in the United States, we do things on a day to day basis that are more like Europe than are more like Mexico, even though they’re right there. Or Canada or whatever.

C: Yeah, for people who, like obviously you know that and feel that culture is very important in your life, for people who don’t really think about it like that, does that ever frustrate you or do you ever want to like show them the light of the new cultural perspective?

M: Um, yes and no. I mean it’s each person’s own journey essentially.

C: Yeah

M: And so, It’s like my brother and sister. They choose not to embark and take that, I’m not going to like shove it down their throats. Um, I will like here and there, like try something different. Or do it without them knowing sort of thing, but I wouldn’t like push it on someone. The only time I would really challenge someone to kinda of look into their cultural, like look into their roots is when, when people are questioning, I guess it sort of gets back into like politically when people are like, ‘I work and these people just mooch off of me and blah blah blah” Um and a lot of time, and shoot we have a senator who is very anti food stamps, and her family would like, lived on food stamps when she was growing up. So it’s sort of like, there’s a disconnection there, right? Um, and so that’s the issue that I have sometimes is it’s like, why don’t you look back at where you came from, everyone came from somewhere. And so, especially around immigration, just, if you look back far enough like just think about it, like. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Tomi Lahren at all? So she had this thing, she’s very, I don’t actually think she believes in all the things that she says, but she is smart, a smart woman and markets herself well.

C: Mhm

M: So, in one of her discussions, she was you know going after immigrants, you know, ‘I don’t have a problem with you, but come here the right way, blah blah blah’

C: Right

M: And um, an anthropologist went back and did basically her lineage, and didn’t have to go back very far to find her like great grandfather, actually, just went through court documents, was going through a deportation because he had an expired visa and it was like the state of North Dakota said he was like. It was like the Supreme court of North Dakota and they said, ‘you can, yeah you know you contribute to society, and you’re a good person, and you have a business, so we’re gonna let you stay’ and so it’s sort of like how do you not, you would not have existed, you would be somewhere else.

C: Yeah, if that didn’t happen

M: Yes, and the part, the anthropologist is like, I didn’t have to go very far. And so that’s the connection people need to make is that, everyone, whether or not you’re aware of it, because in some families, you know, you don’t talk about that sort of stuff, and so you just have to be self-aware.

C: Yeah

M: Before you go out, spouting out all these things. Right?

C: Right.

M: So I don’t ever like push it on someone, but I would ask someone a question of like, well where do you come from?

C: Yeah

M: And some people are like, ‘well I’m from here’ Well not really though. Not really. Are you Piskwae? Then no, okay. [laughter].

C: [laughter] that’s kind of funny.

M: Yeah, it gets people thinking, without you know, without trying, you don’t wanna, if you’re aggressive with someone you know, or you, you, people have differing opinions, even if it’s not what you wanna hear, you don’t agree with it, you still have to do a good job of listening because that person is never going to understand your side if you’re bombarding them or you know just coming at them really hard, no matter what it is that they’re saying. And I think that was the biggest issue with this last election. You know, people weren’t being heard, and it was like everyone was tuning each other out, and so now it’s like, okay now it’s time to listen, because we’re never going to get anywhere if we keep doing things the way we’re doing. So maybe, just like take a step back. And maybe someone might actually be more similar to you than you think they are. So, yeah.

C: Um, you mentioned that, like your work here is sometimes like a pay it forward to the people that struggled before you, for you. Um, how, how do you work, like work, you want other people to do that pay it forward action as well, how do you, not convince, but

M: I mean you are kind of convincing people.

C: Convincing people, but not by forcing it on them, the benefits of paying it forward and why.

M: It’s sort of a balancing act. It’s a little bit of guilt, it’s a little bit of the Catholic guilt [laughter].

C: [laughter] yep.

M: Where it’s like (17:08) hey you know, I try to connect it to the bigger picture you know. Where it’s like, you went through this, and remember how you were feeling and how just down you felt and desperate and alone.

C: Yeah

M: There are hundreds of other people in Iowa that are going through the same thing you’re going through.

C: Mhm, it’s the self-awareness we talked about too.

M: Right, and it’s sort of like, you know, you easily can walk away. And I would never say this to someone, but in, we’re talking, you know that person could easily, you could easily walk away and you’re problem’s still solved and you can go about your life, but I mean in the back of your mind aren’t you constantly, for me it’s like I’m thinking about that other person, you know. And so, how am I trying to insure that this doesn’t happen to someone else. Um so it’s a little bit of self awareness and guilt [laughter]. Like a little nice, little combo [laughter].

C: Yep [laughter].

M: Of, well you really should, you know we did this and I’m just gonna have to do the same thing with someone else, but it’d be great if, cause part of the battle is just convincing someone to do it, but if they have like people around them where it’s like I was in the same boat as you, I was totally afraid to do this, but now you know, it’s worth it. Take the risk, organize etc. etc. So, it’s a combination of both, and sometimes it works, and again it’s someone’s choice. Um, it’s also like trying to just keep people involved with other stuff. So you know, making sure folks get invited to the different events.

C: Yeah

M: And keeping them you know, engaged, which is hard you know, we have thousands of members across the state and some of them are like financial only, others are more wanna-be hands on. So like that woman that just walked in, it’s like people want to come in and just do mailings and things like that so we’ll have volunteer days so people can come in and kind of hang out with each other and that sort of thing. So

C: Well that’s good, it gets people involved.

M: Yeah. And I mean sometimes people just need, they like what we do, but they’re really just unsure. So we have been more aware of, we need to be better about having more opportunities for people to volunteer; meet them where they’re at. Right?

C: Yeah!

M: Not everyone is gonna get on a bus and go protest Wells Fargo.

C: Right

M: Right? If I was me I would never come if someone just says I’m not telling you where we’re going, just get on this bus. Ehh, no! [laughter]. My common sense tells me, my senses tell me I could be like locked up in a room forever. [laughter]

C: [laughter]. Right that’s not a good idea.

M: So, I’m not going to do that. But you know, um so we’re trying to be better about you know, doing things like this where it’s typically we do it in house and Liz and I could just do it. Or it’s like, well let’s take the extra day or two and we’ll have 5 other folks come in, and then they can hang out and talk and make connections and build community so. Things like that. So it’s making sure to like, oh we’ve got this mailing coming up, I should probably call Myra and see if she can come in too. Because a lot, a lot of the difficulty we have here is the issues are cylo-ed sometimes. I’m so focused on immigration and Jess is so focused on environment you know, and Bridget’s so focused on the police that it’s like we’re working on those things and then we’re like, ‘oh wait all of these things are connected’ and you know we have volunteers that, sometimes, some people just strictly love one issue and they are dedicated to that issue, but they don’t really branch out as much. And so, it’s trying to find places where those, those members can connect, so that way it’s like, ‘wow, ok I should, maybe I’ll come with you to the next immigration meeting or whatever’

C: Are those the like 3 that KCCI or CCI [laughter] works with.

M: KCCI [laughter]. Um, sort of. So I guess I would say, so environment is a big issue and that kinda of encompasses farming, um clean water essentially is like the big aspect of that, but also we’ve taken a new approach to energy and energy efficiency. So we have like a climate essentially organizer as well. Um, worker’s rights, so anything related to like the working world, which would include like payday lending. Um, and that’s sort of like economic stuff. So environment, economic and then racial justice I say would be the tree things.

C: Okay.

M: So that then under those three things there’s sort of like different projects. Yeah, so yeah racial, environment, economic. Those would be the three tiers I suppose.

C: Okay.

M: And then like political. In general.

C: Okay, and you do immigration stuff, so would that fall under like racial and political then?

M: Mhm, yeah. Yep. So, we try to connect as much as we can, but again it’s also sometimes an inter-battle with some people. Meet them where they’re at. Slow and steady. [laughter]

C: [laughter] that’s true. Um, for, do you want to go into the future now?

M: Sure.

C: What CCI’s going to do in the future. What you’re hoping to do in the future. Or

M: I’m sort of at a cross roads at this point I suppose. I’ve been um, the one difficulty is like immigration is the thing I care the most about, and um, I don’t know it’s very difficult working on it here in Iowa. People are uh fairly, I mean the community’s fairly apathetic I would say. It’s been difficult over the past like couple years to kind of really develop more leadership within the community. And it’s sort of like, ‘well I don’t want to force the community to do something they don’t want to do’ They want, you know, sometimes it’s like you don’t know what’s good for you as well. So, it’s finding that balance because if folks don’t want to solve their own problems then they just want someone to do it for them, then that’s not what we do. (23:10) Um, and so I’ve thought about it in terms of work, for CCI I don’t know, I think that they’ll always, it’s not that people don’t care, people care, but will it be a core issue or focus issue in the long term? I don’t really know. It depends, um for me, and also I feel a little bit like the structure of the organization in terms of like career is really difficult. It’s more of a horizontal than a, than a gradual. Right?

C: Okay.

M: Um, and so for me, I’m a very goal oriented person and so it’s hard for me to see myself when it’s like I don’t want to be a community organizer for my entire life. Like there’s some folks that are here and they’ve even said, they’ve even said, like I’m a life-er. And it’s like that’s great. Um, but I like to have, you know i’ve worked and done this many campaigns, this is what I bring to the table, these are my results and so I like to be rewarded for that, so it’s you know, I would like to direct the project and essentially I consider myself right now to be the director of the project because no one else is working on it, but I also don’t have anyone else with me working on it, right?

C: Yeah.

M: So I had an intern this summer and that was glorious, it was great. To have someone else helping me, and we made a lot of progress. It was great not just having one person do all this work is just really hard sometimes. Cause you don’t want to everything half assed, but sometimes when there’s a lot on your plate, you can’t do everything really perfect, and that is a problem I have. So, I would like to, if I stay here long term, it’s like I have a like a proposal plan of what I want that project to look like, and it means more staff. It means we have to hire more people.

C: Yeah.

M: Um, because I wanna do more things statewide, I mean right now I can get around the state like a couple times a year, but it’s hard, I don’t want to do things just in central Iowa. Like, we need to be up in Storm Lake and we need to be in Waterloo and so developing the bases there on immigration is, I’m gonna have to be there or we need people there that I can’t just stop in on a weekend. I can’t just be there for a week once a year.

C: Right.

M: That’s not, that’s not good. And we can’t just talk on the phone all the time. So, there’s that that I would like, it’s not I also, for myself, I, I also do want more, I’m very very into policy. I think it just it interests me and I nerd out on it. And so, but without having to be a lawyer. I don’t want to be a lawyer, no, no, no. But, it’s super interesting to me and so I really, I like, I’ve worked on some campaigns. Um, Campaign life is certainly not for me, but I would not mind working for someone who is, in a political office, and working on their policy stances. I mean that’s really interesting to me and the narrative behind those policy stances, because I have too big of a mouth I think to potentially run for office. I think it would get me in trouble. So, I need someone who is maybe a little more like polished, but just take all of what I’m saying and they just say it [laughter].

C: [laughter].

M: I’m fine, I like being in the background, um so I wouldn’t mind doing that, or even I really would actually like to work for like local government, like city government. Um I think that’s where you see the most immediate results, and so those people that work for the city of Des Moines like have a very important role to play, whether or not they see that is

C: Another story

M: Yeah, but I think you need good people in city government if you want it to work well, you can’t just rely on the elect, you know the city council, it’s, it also depends on the city manager’s office and civilian rights department and the parks and rec department. And those people have to care.

C: Right

M: So, I’d be interested in working in that, in that aspect too at some point. And I just feel, I feel like I’m getting to the point a little bit where, career wise I’m plateauing and I don’t like it.

C: Okay.

M: Um, part of the reason I went to grad school, because I felt like my life was getting more redundant, and I needed something else, I needed another challenge.

C: And what are you getting your master’s in again?

M: Public policy

C: Public policy?

M: Yeah, and it’s like public administration and that’s actually been really helpful because for me the biggest thing is when you do work in city government, the biggest challenge as an administrator is you have to remain somewhat non-partisan. It’s hard, you can’t pick sides, and so that’s been a really good challenge for me, I think. You know, especially in terms of the classes this semester where it’s, you know, we had to take a big policy change and talk about it, but not take a side on it. (28:21) So I talked about collective bargaining and I’m super pro union, collective bargaining, I think it’s good thing, but I had to approach of from the standpoint of, I was speaking to the districts. And the districts now are the ones that like, they were the ones, they’re the employer right? So I’m talking to them, so you have to know your audience without being pro or con and saying the same thing. So that’s a challenge and I think it was good, I think it was good practice. Um, but I’m glad that that, cause sometimes too when we surround ourselves with the same people, especially here, I think that can grey your mind a little bit.

C: Yeah.

M: You know, when you don’t challenge yourself and expose yourself to people that don’t think differently than you, I think you’re doing a disservice to yourself, cause when it comes time you need to

C: Promotes growth.

M: Yeah really. I mean if you have to debate with someone or argue with someone in an intelligent way and you aren’t able to do that, that’s a problem

C: Yeah.

M: So I don’t know, I um, I feel like I’m in a transition phase right now, so I don’t know. We’ll see what happens, I think too like burn out is real. Especially in organizing

C: I’m sure.

M: Um, in organizing it’s kind of like you’re expected to do a lot with nothing, and you know our AED is pretty old school and he definitely like thinks that way and so sometimes it can be difficult, when it’s like why aren’t you doing like I talked about earlier, if I were to stay here longer I’d want more people working on that team, cause obviously that would be more helpful. (30:10) Like an example is we worked on um , I was the lead on the Polk County raising the minimum wage campaign.

C: Okay

M: But I had two other co-workers working with me state wide on the campaign. So I had one person, she had taken Johnson and Lynn County, and another person had taken like up in Dubuque and Cedar Falls area, those counties, Blackhawk County. But we were working together on the campaign and by far, I mean it was like a very long campaign, two years and we had a lot of success and had momentum, but that’s because we were strategically working together. I would not have been able to do that on my own.

C: Yeah.

M: After the fact, you know they pre-empted minimum wage in the session last year, which meant that all the work that we had done was erased. They say, ‘eh no, we’re pre-empting this so now the minimum wage goes back to where it was’ so people like got their raises taken away, which is nuts. But yeah, right? It’s ridiculous. I mean you talk about people that want small government, and when small government makes a decision then big government comes in and takes it away.

C: Yeah

M: It’s just weird, right? Republicans need to get it together, um democrats too. Uh, so but the biggest critique ED in our reviews was like you guys need to stop depending on each other. You know, you should be taking campaigns on yourself, we wanna see you all do individual. And so essentially like we were completely separated, and so for me, that was a really big issue that I had, where I pushed back and was like it’s not like I’m not capable of doing stuff, but it, one person is not able to make a successful campaign, and so if you’re expecting me to have like all this success it’s not going to happen. Unless I’m working, like you know, I’m only working basically if I’m working like 80 hours a week to do all of these things that I need to be doing. (32:00) So, you know, that part gets really frustrating for me, and so when you have a staff, not just me, but an entire organizers anyway that are asking for more support and you’re just saying you’re tough, tough it out, you’re fine. You know, you’re not really hearing, and so that’s been a consistent thing ever since I’ve worked here and I don’t know if it will change. And so I have to kind of make the decision, do I want to tough it out and wait til we, and he’s pretty old, it’s like do we wait for new ED and see if it shifts? When I know the pattern in our national network is similar, you know talking to other organizers across the country it’s like, that’s just how it is, and so you have to kind of make that decision. And uh, this career does not uh; it’s difficult I think to have a family with this career. I’ve seen very few people be able to do it or if they have done it, they’re a lot closer to 40 and they have just one kid. And so it’s like I have to think about that too.

C: Yeah

M: Cause there’s other things I want personally in my life that are not related to work, so

C: Right.

M: And I’m sure any career is kinda, you have to have a balance. You know, there’s good things about working here, in terms of PTO and vacation time it’s it’s sort of unlimited. It’s like if you need to take the time, then take the time, which is good. Um, but at the same time you sort of feel guilty because it’s like oh my god, my campaign is gonna die if I’m gone from work for a week. There’s that sort of mentality [laughter]. So, I don’t know I’m at a crossroads right now basically in my life. So I don’t know we’ll see, what’s been, what comes of it.

C: Sure.

M: Um, I’m in the process of interviewing for the uh policy director’s job at the Alzheimer’s Association.

C: Oh okay.

M: My grandma has Alzheimer’s, so I’ve worked with the organization for a couple of years.

C: Yeah

M: So, a different advocacy role essentially. It would be more advocacy than organizing, but I think that that change of pace, I would find it enjoyable. [laughter]. Um, and just the different fields that also interest me and is relevant to my life, but not as you know, draining like mentally and emotionally.

C: Yeah.

M: So, we’ll see what happens, I don’t know [laughter]. That’s the job, you never know.

C: [laughter]. Do you think you’ll like always remain somewhat involved with immigration.

M: Oh totally, yeah 100%. I’ll always be a member here, no matter what, cause they do amazing work. Um and I’ll always I think be involved with immigration it just is how much will I be involved, like how will my capacity be, will probably shift.

C: Yeah, right.

M: Um, yeah. I think that’s the biggest thing is just, mentally I just can’t really you know I actually think about how do therapists do it, right? You know, people coming in constantly, just basically unloading all of this trauma onto you, and so it’s like

C: How do you take it all in?

M: Do you have, do you have like a sponge that just catches it all? Or it’s like it’s just coming at you, and that’s like how it is with this. Where it’s just, there’s some times when people come in and it’s like, I’m emotionally tired, when it’s over, when they’re done talking. Like 2 hours of them just crying and it’s like the really horrific stuff that happens to people, and so it’s like I’m not a, also trained in dealing with trauma, so it’s you know, it’s difficult and it’s kinda like we had maybe some more trainings as organizers to deal with, how to deal with trauma and things like that. Because we are exposed to all of this, but it’s like we’re supposed to just weigh in kinda. And figure it out, and it’s like that’s not safe for you mentally either. There’s a lot of things at play.

C: Yeah.

M: Things that need to be improved.

C: All these improvements to make.

M: Totally, but it’s whether or not there is the will to have the improvement, and if there’s not then I need to put myself first basically, cause I’m not about to like, I’m only 27 I’m not about to turn 45 next year. [laughter]

C: [laughter] yeah.

M: But I feel like it!

C: [laughter], that’s probably not healthy, especially continuing down a path like that.

M: Yeah, so and I find it to be somewhat of a, I mean it’s like a pattern. Essentially what you look at like in organizing is, it’s like 2 to 3, between 2 and 3 years is the tranistionary phase where people get burned out, so I’m at 3 1/2 years right now. So, I’ve made it past the hump, but

C: Good job!

M: it’s like, but I, but last was just, (37:01)  this time last year, I was like running ragged. I mean I was at, at that hump of just like, ‘oh my god this is absolutely awful.”

C: Mhm

M: So, I made it over the hump and now it’s like, Ok, let’s regroup. Where are we going with this.

C: Yep, it sounds slightly exhausting but..

M: It is.

C: [laughter]. But the work is good, getting things done.

M: I mean when you have those small or big victories it feels, I mean the energy you just, it feels really good.

C: yeah, is that what makes it worth it?

M: Totally, totally. I mean when you have any kind of win, um no matter what it is, it’s like, especially in this work, you’re moving an inch at a time. It’s rare that you have some huge thing, sorry. Um, but when you do, it’s awesome. I mean it feels really, really good. It’s just a matter of, on my issue at least, it’s like it’s very long term. I mean, in my lifetime will the immigration system be fixed? I don’t know the answer to that question. My answer is probably not, because I mean, I’m sure Cesar Chavez said the same thing, right?

C: Yeah

M: And it’s like, he’s old as hell, right? [laughter]. So, things are still really shitty. So, it’s hard, You can’t really think about it in terms of long term because you’ll get really down about it. You gotta just, just again baby steps. Think about what’s plausible, but it’s worth it. I like what I do, as much as I, I’ve been better about not complaining as much. Because I’m like,’that not healthy’ and you’re here so,

C: Might as well.

M: Right. Right, right.

C: Put your best foot forward.

M: Yep.

C: Um, is there anything else that you want to add, or things that you had thought about.

M: I mean like if we’re looking at long term future, whether it’s, I think there’s two aspects that I think about all the time of, in terms of the organizing world, long term. Things I’ve noticed and that I’ve talked about with other organizers around the country is like there’s some structural things if we want to make this a career, or um like a viable structure that has to change in order to, because I think the organizations in our network make like very impactful change and it’s really powerful but there has to be, we’re growing and so it’s like we have to be prepared for that growth and I don’t think we’re at that right now. So, mainly because a lot of it’s a budgetary, it’s hard. I mean it’s, your, I get where the ED is coming from because you have to do what you, you have to have big goals within a budget. And everyone is competing for their money, right? Especially since we’re going up against people who have endless money, like the money never ends for them.

C: Mho

M: So it’s difficult for that sometimes, but I think it’s the, the, the network has to be willing to look at the structure if they want to retain good people, because you can’t, I think campaigns end up like fading when you’re having turnover consistency, because you’re having to like retrain someone, have them get in on the issue a little bit and so, every 3-5 years if you’re retraining everybody, it’s just like it’s a hot mess. So, if you want to retain people you should think about it, and that obviously goes for any company you know, you should think about the money you spend on trainings, that’s why you should just pay people a living wage, so that they stick around. Um but then you think about like politically and it’s kinda like that also, it’s sort of a deciding factor of ‘do I stay or do I go’ kind of a thing. Is what’s going to happen, who knows? The trend globally doesn’t seem like this is going away any time soon, which is scary to think about and I think just historically like people go, we as people go through those periods of time, phases, how long it’s going to last. I mean shit, you had like the Age of Enlightenment after a very long period of really, really scary times Economically, health wise, and it seems like we’re going towards that, cause it’s not like Trump’s just a phenomenon, if you’re paying attention internationally to politics, this is something that ever-a lot of developed countries are dealing with.

C: Yeah.

M: And it’s really, really scary to think about, because, and this got brought up in a class, I think last year, we talked about this a lot. It was a class, it was a new class at Drake, and it was Corporate Social Responsibility.

C: Okay.

M: And how the private sector, essentially, is kinda going to be the saving grace. Like they, the private has to decide. Do you care about humanity or do you not? And that is very scary

C: That is very scary.

M: Because there’s not good companies out there like, like Patagonia is a great company, or you know, the fact that I can only think of one is also really scary. You know, where are they other responsible companies that are going to put people, in, cause guess what? If you don’t have a planet to live on, what are you profiting from?

C: Right,

M: So thinking about that is scary, because right now it just seems like the money’s good, and people don’t really care, and that’s a lot of like individualism that’s happening, and you’re just thinking about myself, and not necessarily the greater good of humankind.

C: Yeah!

M: And so that is really scary to me, to think about. It’s motivation to like stay, you know keep working, but at the same time it’s like, it’s a lot. So that, I think about all the time.

C: [laughter].

M: Late at night! [laughter]. Of just what’s going to happen, cause I truly, I mean I think that Trump will be in office for 8 years, I don’t think he’s going to be done in 2020. People are, there might be people who are motivated to run against him, but guess what? People still aren’t listening to rural America, and the people that voted for him. People have to listen to the people that voted for him, like what are they saying?

C: Right.

M: What is the issue that they have? And really like it’s recession, it’s economic, it’s a whole host of other things. I think people see their country changing and they don’t like it. And by changing I mean demographic wise. It’s not longer, and I mean we have known this for awhile, that eventually the majority wont’ be white. We know this.

C: Right, it’s not a surprise.

M: Yes, it’s not a surprise and now all the sudden it’s becoming more evident and people are freaking the fuck out. Which is sad.

C: Yeah.

M: It’s really sad, especially because people don’t vote for their self-interest so, you know economically you would think that people in the South would be for, would be voting blue simply because economically that is in their best interest to have social programs. Most of the money on welfare is white women in the South. That is where most of the money goes, in terms of tax dollars, the North, northern states, pay typically more than they get in Federal funding, whereas the opposite is true in the South. The, most of the federal dollars, 60-70% of our Federal dollars go to the South, but they tax wise, they have the low tax, because Republicans are like, ‘no taxes!’ Because don’t worry, the Blue states will cover it. That’s an issue.

C: That is an issue.

M: Right? That’s bogus, so now you know, if you look at, if you pay attention on the tax reform plan you do have some Republicans that are like, ‘okay we can’t keep giving tax breaks because we are in serious debt and we have no budget’, so you have people now that are kind of like realizing this, but it’s also part of that narrative that people have to get it in their head. So I don’t know you really have to like listen to people, it’s gonna take a lot.

C: Yeah.

M: It’s gonna take a lot of work, you now  we can’t just go after Republicans because they’re working smarter not harder. If you listen to their arguments they don’t ever come out and say, ‘oh those Democrats’ they say it in a different way. Right?

C: Yeah.

M: And unfortunately, we’re living, we’re going towards a society that is not pro-intelligence. We don’t read as much, we don’t invest in education, and dumber societies vote stupid.

C: [laughter] yeah.

M: It’s in, you know, it’s in the GOPs interest to have a voter base that is not educated, because educated people understand how policy works. I mean you have all these people right that if you think about it that were very, ‘thanks Obama’ like where that came from with the health care thing, but if you look at how the whole health care thing came about, where it came from and how it came to be, I mean it’s all, you need to follow the money essentially, but people don’t do that. People are like, ‘ugh this ObamaCare is really shitty’ And it’s like, it didn’t start out that way, it was actually really good, if he would have gotten what he wanted, but he didn’t. But he powered through and pushed through something that he know wasn’t 100%, but he knew I need to get this in here otherwise we’ll never,

C: Something’s better than nothing.

M: Yes, right. So, you know, it’s a whole host of things, and whether or not we’re gonna get there

C: We’ll see.

M: I know.

C: It’s scary because there’s going to be major changes, but no one knows what they’re going to be.

M: Mhm, well who knows how that will effect. You know, what’s the ripple effect is the question, right? So that’s where we’re at, is what is this gonna look like, you know? And then you kinda have to look at internationally, what messes are we going to be in, because this guy’s a hot mess.

C: Yeah.

M: He can’t keep his mouth shut, and there’s other hot heads around the world that equally are the same.

C: Dangerous combination.

M: Yes! I mean we’re playing with fire here, so I don’t know. There’s a whole host of things to think about, but I think the trend is, it’s leaning toward fascism, which is scary, so it’s kinda like what is it going to take for progressivism for lack of a better word, to sort of get, get it back together, get on track. I don’t know, I honestly don’t know. That’s a really long quote of a very difficult question.

C: [laughter].

M: So you know, some days it’s easier to like stick your head in the sand. Some days I wish I would. But like, you kinda, you’ve opened, it’s like you’ve lifted the blinds and now the blinds don’t go back down. [laughter].

C: Yeah

M: Now all you’re seeing is that, constantly, everywhere you go. It’s like, ‘huh’. It’s weird.

C: Mhm

M: It really is super weird, thinking about where I used to be, like when I was like 18 or 19 to now, and

C: And just like politically aware.

M: Yes! Of just like this has always been here and I just didn’t

C: And my eyes weren’t open,

M: Yes! It was like I wasn’t wearing my glasses for 18 years and I put them on and it’s like, ‘Shit, the world’s blue! I can see colors.’

C: [laughter]

M: Yeah and it’s just kinda of crazy and you can’t un-see it. And now it’s kinda like I constantly am just like, ‘oh’ But then there’s other people that aren’t, aren’t there yet and that’s hard for me.

C: Yeah.

M: My boyfriend’s family is like that. They’re good people, but they’re not quite there yet. They kind of like still make the narratives of like, ‘people just don’t want to work’ And I’m like, ‘Meh .yeah.’

C: Not quite the situation.

M: Yeah, I think people want to work, it’s just like they don’t want to work for $8 an hour. So, right, right.

C: [laughter]

M: So, who knows what the future holds, I mean again we’re at a turning point, it’s like where are we gonna go?

C: Yeah, yeah.

M: And I think in the next decade will be the deciding factor of like where things go. And so it’s going to require a lot, it’s going to require more structure. It’s going to require the Democratic party getting it together, or just going away altogether, frankly. Both parties, I think should just, it should not even be, it should be more like England where it’s a Parliament system.

C: Mho

M: Because it’s not necessarily part based, it’s more about like where your, where your people are at.

C: yeah

M: So I think that could be an official but again, I don’t think that will ever change either. I think the way we have our government set up it, stupid. [laughter].

C: [laughter]

M: It’s very stupid. Because it’s a team thing. ‘My team versus your team’

C: It is.

M: And it’s just stupid. [laughter]. It’s dumb.

C: It makes it harder to get things done.

M: Yeah. Really. I mean I kinda feel like I’m watching an endless football game. Right? Of just someone on the other team could make a good play, but you hate that team so much that you aren’t going to acknowledge the play.

C: Yeah, yeah!

M: [laughter]. At some point he’s going to trade onto your team, so you’re going to have to deal with him [laughter].

C: [laughter] what are you going to do when that happens.

M: It’s just a hot mess. I like comparing it sometimes to football because it’s easier for people to understand, [laughter].

C: It is a great comparison.

M: Everything can be compared to football.

C: [laughter]

M: And I don’t even like football that much. Ugh, yeah. Do you have other, I don’t know if I have any other final thoughts, it’s just impending doom. [laughter]

C: Impending doom [laughter]. Doom is upon us! Uh, it is inevitable.

M: [laughter]. Hunker down.

C: So we’ll hope for the best.

M: Seriously.

C: Yeah, for the next couple decades. I don’t know if you have anything else you’d like to add.

M: I don’t think so, I mean I think it will be interesting to, it’ll be interesting I think to like, like in 20 years come back and listen to this and see what happened. [laughter]

C: Yeah, hopefully we’re all around!

M: [laughter]

C: [laughter].

M: And on that note!

C: Yeah.

M: Yeah, God I hope we’re all around. I’m sure we will be.

C: I have some faith, a good amount. I think we will be!

M: I’m sure we’ll be fine! Everything will be fine.

C: It’ll be great.

M: Like my mom, ‘it’ll be fine, everything’s fine’

C: [laughter]

M: It’s just when she panics it’s like, ‘everything’s fine’ like very quick. I’m like, ‘oh my God’

C: Are you sure?!

M: [laughter] it’s like an episode of Gilmore Girls where she’s just talking very fast. It’s very overwhelming.

C: You’re like, ‘okay!’

M: Calm down Lorelei!

C: Yeah, I think we’ll still be around.

M: I’m  glad you think so, we need people to think like that [laughter].

C: Yeah, have some optimism.

M: Just pray about it!

C: There we go! Yep, that’ll solve all the problems.

M: [laughter]!

C: It’s fixed, magic!

M: Don’t worry! [laughter], yes magic!

C: Alright (52:53)