Going Beyond Voting


Students travel to New Orleans to help with organizing and clean-up efforts. Photos: Perri Hofmann
Students travel to New Orleans to help with organizing and clean-up efforts. Photos: Perri Hofmann

With the upcoming elections, many of my classmates are excited to finally vote, as they have never felt included in our country’s politics before. For myself and other organizers of the New York 2 New Orleans Coalition (NY2NO), however, voting is about as involved as watching Jon Stewart on TV.

Unlike many Americans who leave decision-making to their political representatives, students in our organization find alternatives to our country’s current democratic process. We are creating a way for young people to be engaged in politics beyond voting. We want them to be angry about the injustices that go on in our country and take action against it.

I am an organizer for NY2NO, a student-led organization that started bringing high school students down to New Orleans on their school breaks after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.

I went on my first New Orleans trips with my school when I was 14. Each NY2NO trip has about 30 students from different New York City schools on it who work with the New Orleans Survivor Council/People’s Organizing Committee. Students on our trips participate in reconstruction, gutting, yard work and most of all canvassing (going door to door and talking to residents) in an area of New Orleans most affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Our trips are not like relief trips. Everyone is actively learning from themselves and each other. If you’re involved in NY2NO, even if you don’t plan the trips, you are an organizer.

Back in New York, student organizers are planning what work we can do in our own communities utilizing the organizing skills that we have gained through our work in New Orleans.

Izzy Jagninski is a 16-year-old organizer with NY2NO who has been on five New Orleans brigades, three of which she co-organized.

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