Engaging the New American Majority
Wole Akinlosotu is an avid follower of news and politics, so the opportunity to meet CNN host Van Jones as part of Common Purpose’s leadership team was too good to pass up. “One thing that impressed me was the fact that he‘s been doing a lot of community organizing and a lot of groundwork since he was a kid,” says Wole. “That inspired me - hearing about some of the bigger things he's accomplished while he was young.” Jones was in Seattle to talk about Initiative 1631, the carbon fee, and agreed to speak with young leaders from Common Purpose and another local organization at a private residence.
Wole works on marketing and media for Common Purpose’s Ristretto, an event series to reach oppressed and underrepresented groups, including young people of color and young women – the “New American majority.” Voter registration was the focus of the first Ristretto, which featured great food, drinks and a DJ. Wole explains, “Another goal is to create a community of young people that are passionate about what's going on in their communities, giving them an outlet to learn about how policies will affect local communities. They’re bringing new energy to the conversation.”
His work with Common Purpose, and opportunities like talking one on one with Van Jones, are helping Wole as he considers his next steps after college. “It's good to be around other professionals that are passionate about civic engagement. It allowed me to see if you trust the process and start young, that hard work doesn't go to waste. That reassured me as I'm graduating and figuring out what I'm supposed to be doing.”
In the meantime, Wole is keeping busy with Common Purpose. He’s heading to Tampa with Team Florida to GOTV to restore voting rights in early November. And the next Ristretto is October 30th, featuring a panel discussion with community organizers and political activists, and a DJ and costume contest to keep things lively. He encourages Common Purpose volunteers to spread the word among the under-30s in your families and networks. Anyone interested can RSVP here.
Beyond the midterms, Wole is thinking about the future. He’s looking into fellowships that will allow him to travel, and considering how to evolve Ristretto to fulfill its mission. And he’s mulling over the difficulty and importance of finding common ground during divisive times, something he had the opportunity to talk about with Jones. “All we can do is tell our story. I really feel like storytelling and sharing where each side is coming from is the answer to starting dialog,” shares Wole.