Lisa Ann Fontana
Welcome Party Powerhouse at Me The People
Website Address: www.MeThePeopleVote.com
25 year motivational speaker and author Snowden McFall (www.firedupnow.com) welcomes outstanding first coast women leaders to this uplifting and interesting show, filled with practical advice and tips for women. Today, Snowden talks to Lisa Ann Fontana from Me The People.
Lisa Ann Fontana, is the author of Me, The People and the creator of Citizen Cupcakes and Welcome Parties.
She didn’t cast her first vote for anything until she turned 35 and now she is helping 92 million new and non-voters Get Comfy In Their Country and Confident in their vote.
To learn more check out www.MeThePeopleVote.com.
So tell us about Me The People and what this is all about.
So Me The People. My experience growing up, and it’s been echoed by thousands of people at this point, if you’re a non-voter, the biggest reason for disengagement is that the vast majority of states don’t teach civics, love of country, community, community involvement to any students anymore. So Americans like me, they literally know nothing about it. So if you don’t know anything about it and there’s no acknowledgment of how confusing this is, well then you’re out of luck. And that’s really terrible and extremely easy to fix. That’s what I do.
So you teach people how to vote, is that right?
I teach the first half of it. So what I do is I welcome people in. The goal of what we do is to help people get comfy in their country. So I help 92 million people who want to get comfy in their country and confident in their vote. Comfy in your country means that people feel welcome and wanted in their government and that’s missing. Nobody knows what it’s like to feel like they belong in their government. Then it also means that they can lean into democracy on their own terms, that they know how to register to vote if they want to, and then, if they choose to vote, they are comfortable walking into a polling place or ordering a vote-by-mail ballot. So it’s that first section of everything and then later it can get as deep as it wants. But I think we start constantly at getting people to vote, misunderstanding that the reason those 92 million don’t do it is because they don’t understand it and they don’t feel welcome. And that’s why they avoid it, if that makes sense.
Tell us about Citizen Cupcakes.
I get asked about Citizen Cupcakes a lot. This is one of my absolutely favorite things. When I wrote my book, Me The People, with the smiley face on it so that it doesn’t feel so scary, my goal was to disarm the angst that surrounds government and politics. And if you read it, I did. But then people would share it with other people and they wouldn’t because there was the stigma behind voting or engaging into government had not changed for them. So I created welcome parties and I went on this library tour, and that did help. But the stigma, that irritation with government, with a system that just had left them behind, it was still there. And so it was that hesitancy to get energized and lean in, and I didn’t like that. So I’m a professional actor. So I created a character who would be so over the top that I could hurdle that challenge and that stigma. So we use cupcakes to practice how to have a political conversation without bloodshed or stop one already. And thus Citizen Cupcakes was born. Easy way to bring people in, with sugar.
So before COVID, you would travel around the country and lead these kinds of events?
Yes. And we were starting to slow down. I was still doing them, they got popular — I’m thrilled that they got popular — and we just couldn’t keep up with the demand. And so we created an online program. One of my favorite things to do was large block parties. I would sit in one family’s home and every 20 minutes we would do a run through, and you could sit with your kids or by yourself, whoever you were, wherever you are in this process, you could come, be welcomed, and get excited and jazzed about your country. But then it began to be so busy that I didn’t have the time. And when you’re also going out and speaking to people about proper outreach and how to get people to lean in, my timeframe was getting squished and I hated letting go of the work. So we created the online series. We do them every Saturday night from now until the election. Please come join us on Facebook. But also, you can throw your own. So if you have a family at home right now or you’re in an area where you can get together while social distancing — if you go to my Web site is MeThePeopleVote.com — and so when you go there, we walk you through the whole process. The videos are there, the itinerary, everything you might need to throw your party, and all it is is ordering junk food and having fun. I have no suckers to show you here, but we always have of junk food and we sit and we learn, video after video, as a group and then we kind of can ask questions, and you can do the same thing with your friends and your family. Or if it’s just you and me, then it’s just you and me.
And you’re nonpartisan, correct, Lisa Ann?
Yes. And I’d love to make that distinction for anyone who doesn’t know. Bipartisan, this is about the two party system, and if you don’t know what that is, that’s ok, I didn’t either. Come to my party; we show all that to you. But bipartisan means both parties. That’s a Democrat and a Republican, respectfully. If you’re bipartisan that means you go both ways. If you are partisan, it means you only go one way. If you are nonpartisan, it means we don’t deal with them at all. So that’s what we do. We I teach you what parties are because you need to know that, but other than that, parties are not part of what I do because they’re not in the Constitution. I do government and letting you know what everything is so when it comes at you, you can recognize it and deal with it.
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