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Great Falls hosts first Advocacy and Organizing Institute for Community Advocates

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Great Falls -   On May 13th and 14th, 2016, Great Falls will be the site of the first Advocacy and Organizing Institute, a free, two-day conference aimed at providing the tools, resources, and networking necessary for being an effective community advocate.  The Advocacy and Organizing Institute, hosted by Montana Human Rights Network and Montana Women Vote, will feature workshops by state experts on a variety of topics, including essential advocacy skills and current social justice movements. The Institute is a great opportunity for individuals of all backgrounds and levels of experience to learn about effective organizing, meet other advocates from Great Falls and surrounding areas, and collaborate on creating positive change in their local communities.

 The Advocacy and Organizing Institute was conceived from vast community input, including a highly-distributed public survey, that reflected a high desire from Great Falls residents to receive training on advocacy skills as well as connections to local social justice movements. The Institute follows a palpable and unmistakable surge in interest towards social justice, community engagement, and local empowerment in Great Falls.  This new explosive interest is in part due to the groundbreaking opening of the Great Falls LGBTQ Center as well as the community’s involvement in the Medicaid Expansion campaign, which culminated in Great Falls collecting more ballot initiative signatures than other city. The goal of the Advocacy and Organizing Institute is two-pronged: to meet the community’s needs by providing the training and resources needed to be an effective community advocate, and to support the momentum by creating an environment in which people can brainstorm together how to create more positive change.

 “The past few years have been explosive, in terms of involvement in community advocacy and social justice issues. The Institute is an amazing opportunity for those who are passionate about something, anything, and want to make our community a better place.  They can build or hone their skills, meet other great people doing great things, and become more connected to Montana movements, said Jules Shindel, Organizing Director for Montana Human Rights Network and Montana Women Vote.

 Workshops will be offered by top experts in the state on a variety of subjects. Sessions include: Privilege and Oppression, Organizing 101, Economic Justice for Montana Families, Organizing in Indian Country, Refugee Resettlement, Mental Health Policy, Sexual and Domestic Violence, Reproductive Rights, LGBTQ Advocacy, Campaign Strategy and Mapping, Using the Media, Voter Advocacy, How to Create a Volunteer Base, and more. 

 The Institute also offers a film festival evening the night before, titled “How to Make History 101”: A Film Screening of Iron-Jawed Angels.  This new film portrays the struggle of a group of young women who risked their lives to get the right to vote. Thursday, May 12th at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. Film begins at 7:30pm, doors open at 7:00pm. Free of charge.

  •  What: The Advocacy and Organizing Institute
  • When: Friday, May 13th from 3:00-7:00pm and Saturday, May 14th from 12:30-5:00pm
  • Where: Great Falls College- MSU College of Technology, Heritage Hall
  • Who: Montana Human Rights Network, Montana Women Vote (Speakers include: Western Native Voice, Montana Budget and Policy center, NCBI, National Alliance against Mental Illness, Soft Landing Missoula, Montana Coalition against Domestic and Sexual Violence, Planned Parenthood of Montana, YWCA Great Falls, Rustler Allies) Sponsored by: RDI, Pride Foundation, Social Justice Fund, Planned Parenthood of Montana, Women’s Foundation of Montana
  • Contact: Jules Shindel, Organizing Director, jules@mhrn.org, 406-868-0349
  • Website: http://www.montanawomenvote.org/our-work/advocacy-organizing-institute/
  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1677057022548938/
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