Grayroots Rule

Of course I knew fashion designer Lorraine Parish by name — didn’t I pass her stylish shop every time I drove in or out of Vineyard Haven? But Fashion and I don’t exist on the same planet, so even though Martha’s Vineyard is an island, it’s not surprising that our paths never crossed.

At the Mass. Indivisible conference, November 2017. From left: Lorraine Parish, Holly MacKenzie, me, Margaret Emerson, and Kathy Laskowski. Missing: Carla Cooper.

Until last November, when we found ourselves in the same car with three other Vineyard women, heading for the statewide Indivisible conference in Worcester. Politics is notorious for making strange bedfellows. It also makes for interesting traveling companions. In the course of two hours to and from Worcester, not to mention 45 minutes each way on the boat, you learn more about your fellow travelers than you know about people you’ve known for years.

Lorraine wrote about her personal journey to political engagement and our trip to Worcester in the Martha’s Vineyard Times: “Get Active: Local Women Find a Cure for the Political Blues.”

After that I started running into Lorraine a lot. At a postcard party for Doug Jones, then the underdog candidate for the U.S. Senate from Alabama, Lorraine announced that she was planning to go to Alabama to canvass for Jones in the run-up to the December 12 special election.

Yeah, right, I thought. True, Lorraine grew up in Alabama and had contacts there, but after a few decades on the Vineyard I’m used to hearing — and having — big ideas that come to nothing. The place has a way of squelching any bold idea that dares stick its head above ground.

But Lorraine not only did it, she wrote about it for the M.V. Times: “Flight to a Fight.” (Go ahead: follow the link and read the story. The woman can write.)

So when Lorraine started talking about the Grayroots Movement, I put my hard-won skepticism on hold and paid attention. Her idea? To catalyze “a Democrat and Independent movement dedicated to encouraging and mobilizing our older citizens in becoming politically active in the campaign process for our candidates around the country.” The plan was to, in the fall, in the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections (that would be now), to go on the road in the Northeast and maybe elsewhere to mobilize “older citizens” in support of Democratic candidates in hotly contested swing districts.

Michele (left) and Lorraine selling and modeling Grayroots Ts outside Cronig’s Market, Vineyard Haven

And she’s doing it! Through the summer she and another “Silver Warrior,” Michele Ortlip, have been tending a table several days a week outside Cronig’s, selling Grayroots Ts and Ts, totes, and caps with the Lorraine-designed D-Vote logo and raising both consciousness and funds for the road trip.

Aside: The whole world knows that I have at least five times more short-sleeve T-shirts than I can wear in a single summer, but the Grayroots T has LONG sleeves so of course I bought one.

Michele models the D-Vote logo in three options: cap, T, and tote.

I love the D-Vote logo! Currently it features this year’s general election date — November 6, but you knew that already, right?? — but as Lorraine has noted, it can be customized for other elections or particular candidates. I am, however, seriously serious about NO MORE SHORT-SLEEVE T-SHIRTS.

At least for the moment . . .

If you’re on the Vineyard, you can buy Grayroots and D-Vote swag at Lorraine’s shop on State Road, Vineyard Haven, or (if you’re in the right place at the right time) from her table at Cronig’s.

If you’re somewhere else, here’s the ordering info.

If you’re in or know of a district that could use an assist from the Silver Warriors, drop Lorraine an email. Districts in the Northeast are most reachable, but Lorraine is planning to do some on-the-ground campaigning for Peter Joffrion, running for Congress in Alabama’s 5th Congressional District, so you never know.

About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has been preoccupied with electoral politics since 2016. She just started a blog about her vintage T-shirt collection: "The T-Shirt Chronicles." Her other blogs include "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories," about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard, and "Write Through It," about writing, editing, and how to keep going.
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2 Responses to Grayroots Rule

  1. Kind of reminds me of the Gray Panthers movement…But I am liking the moxie of the Vineyardettes!


    • I still remember Maggie Kuhn! One thing I still like about the Vineyard is that there are so many women in their 60s, 70s, 80s, and even 90s who are still growing, changing, making a difference, and inspiring the rest of us.


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