ITHACA, N.Y.—A coalition of organizations ranging from food pantries to government overwatch groups is budding in Ithaca. Their cause for uniting? To do locally based, nonpartisan promotion of civic engagement. The group’s name? Your Voice + Your Vote, or YV2 for short.

The group originated as an idea in the Tompkins County Human Rights Commission, a volunteer advisory board whose members are appointed by the Tompkins County Legislature, and advise the county’s Office of Human Rights. 

Joanna Green, a member of the Human Rights Commission, spoke on the motivations of forming such a coalition, saying it’s about getting people to vote “but it’s about much more than voting.”

“We have to go back to the whole idea of civics, helping people understand how they can leverage their own power,” said Green. “We’ve become such passive consumers of politics.”

The kickoff event for the nascent coalition is on Saturday, Nov. 5, at the Southside Community Center (305 South Plain Street, Ithaca) from 12 to 2 p.m. It’s going to be outside, and relatively informal, said Green, and will line up with Southside’s food pantry hours. The plan is to show members of the public the candidates that are on the ballot, the referendums, where they can vote, and also to register voters for future elections — the bread and butter civic engagement work.

But what might be the future for the coalition? Green stressed that the coalition wants to prioritize engaging communities typically left out of or ignored in the political process.

Chair of the Human Rights Commission, Dr. Peyi Soyinka-Airewele, said community conversations are a strong possibility but that the vision is to “protect the right of each person to participate in these conversations and in the process of shaping our future.”

She said, “What we are seeing is a growing divide within the nation, a fracture that is really dangerous. As it destroys community, it destroys the capacity to speak across divides.”


Groups that have confirmed they will have a representative at Your Voice + Your Vote’s Nov. 5 event at the Southside Community Center:

  • Dorothy Cotton Institute
  • Finger Lakes Independence Center
  • League of Women Voters of TC
  • No Mas Lagrimas
  • TC Human Rights Commission

Groups that are participating in Your Voice + Your Vote’s Nov. 5 event at the Southside Community Center:

  • Alliance of Families for Justice
  • Black Hands Universal
  • Cayuga Health System
  • Dorothy Cotton Institute
  • Finger Lakes Independence Center
  • GreenStar Cooperative Market
  • Groton Public Library
  • League of Women Voters of TC
  • No Mas Lagrimas
  • Open Doors English
  • Rejoice the Vote
  • Southside Community Center
  • TC Human Rights Commission
  • TC Office of Human Rights
  • Tompkins Learning Partners
  • Ultimate Reentry URO

Jimmy Jordan

Jimmy Jordan is a general assignment reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact him at jjordan@ithacavoice.com Connect with him on Twitter @jmmy_jrdn