Alyssa and Taylor just returned from North Dakota, where they hired students to work on grassroots organizing against North Dakota’s upcoming ballot measure. They fell in love with the city of Fargo and the people in it.
This is their trip diary.
Above is a map of their trip!
Tuesday, September 16: Fly, Fly, Fly
Taylor: I had just returned the night before from a family wedding in Cincinnati, so to get on another plane the next morning made me feel busy and important!
Alyssa: Taylor and I met up at the airport and excitedly talked about the trip over bagels and coffee as we waited for our flight to board. Pretty soon we were on our way to North Dakota (well, first to Minnesota for a layover) and we were so pumped!
Taylor and Alyssa are on their way to #NorthDakota! #GOHV
Taylor: When we landed we met up with Susie, a West Coast organizer who would be right there with us throughout our trip. Susie’s been with FMF since the very beginning, so her insight was invaluable.
Alyssa: She was really fun to travel with, too! We learned a lot about The Grateful Dead. She’s seen them in concert over a hundred times!
West Coast FMFer Susie played a tune on the sidewalk! #NorthDakota View on Instagram
Taylor: We grabbed a burger at J.L. Beers in downtown Fargo, then made our way to Karen’s house, where we’d be staying for the duration of our time in North Dakota. Her home was incredible – she collects art, and it covered every wall! We felt like we were in a cozy, livable art museum.
Wednesday, September 17: Our First Hire!
Alyssa: Our goal for this trip was to hire 8 to 10 student organizers, which we succeeded in doing. We hired our very first that morning at Cafe Delight, a coffee shop just off of North Dakota State University’s (NDSU) campus.
Taylor: We got some much-needed coffee and met with Emily and Kate, both of whom we ended up hiring.
Meet Kate, our first #NorthDakota hire to help us #GOHV and defeat Measure 1!
Alyssa: After coffee, we explored NDSU’s campus a bit to see what the student union was like. There, we ran into organizers from Planned Parenthood who are working on the state’s North Dakotans Against Measure 1 campaign. Taylor: We got lunch that day at HoDo Lounge, which Karen, our host, owns along with the Hotel Donaldson. I had some of the best mac ‘n cheese of my LIFE.
Alyssa: We had some free time after lunch, which would prove very rare throughout the trip, so we used it to explore downtown Fargo. There were so many adorable shops!
Taylor: I couldn’t believe how inexpensive everything was compared to in Washington, D.C.!
Alyssa: That night, we attended a fundraising event for North Dakotans Against Measure 1 held at Hotel Donaldson. We listened to speakers tell why they are against the measure, and it was great to get to mingle with others working on this campaign!
Alyssa supports #NDAM1; you should, too! #NorthDakota View on Instagram
Taylor: We ate dinner at Vinyl Taco, where we had some seriously impressive tacos! Plus, a woman from the fundraising event spotted us there and discreetly paid for our meal as a thank-you for the work we were doing. Gotta love that Midwestern niceness!
Yay, Vinyl Taco for dinner! #NorthDakota
Thursday, September 18: Taylor’s First Take Back The Night
Alyssa: We started the day at Atomic Coffee, where we met with two organizers from Planned Parenthood and discussed the work already being done around Measure 1.
Taylor: We walked around some of the other shops to kill time after that – seriously, downtown Fargo is too freaking adorable. Later that afternoon, we picked up pizzas from Spicy Pie for a meeting we were hosting for NDSU students interested in working with us!
Alyssa: We planned on going right from that meeting to NDSU’s Take Back The Night event, but not all of the pizza got eaten, so Taylor ran around the student union offering free pizza to strangers.
Taylor: Yep, yep I did do that. No shame.
Alyssa: We attended Take Back The Night, which was a huge rush for me. I helped organize that same event at Virginia Tech every year with my feminist group, so to see another school’s take on it was fun and fulfilling. It creates a great sense of community.
We marched with @NDSU’s #TBTN2014 tonight! View on Instagram
Taylor: I’d never been to a Take Back The Night event! I loved it. We chanted and marched around campus, culminating in a quiet, candlelit vigil where survivors shared their stories. The strength of these young women, even while telling these devastating recounts of their experiences, moved me to tears.
Friday, September 19: Crossin’ The Border
Alyssa: We spent most of the day with students at the Minnesota State University-Moorhead (MSUM) campus. Moorhead and Fargo, despite being across state lines, are practically the same city, so we wanted to hire some organizers at MSUM. We met with their feminist organization, which was amazing! They were all so invested and engaged. The meeting lasted three hours!
We hung out with rad @MSUMWGS feminists today! #FeministDragon #latergram
Taylor: I was so impressed by all their plans and accomplishments! They were also so kind and happy to have us. We made plans to meet with two of the leaders, Kate and Devon, and ended up hiring them the next day.
We hired these two feminist goddesses in #NorthDakota yesterday! #NDAM1 #FeministDragon View on Instagram
Saturday, September 20: Junk, Alleys, and Lots Of Art
Alyssa: We started the day with a hearty breakfast at…Taco Bell.
Taylor: Alyssa convinced me to try it, so I did. Not nearly as bad as I expected! After breakfast, Susie took us to a “junk market” at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds. It was a blast! Basically it was a huge market full of arts, crafts, and refurbished/repurposed furniture.
The campus team in #NorthDakota right now went to a junk market this morning!
Alyssa and Taylor hamming it up at the junk market! #NorthDakota View on Instagram
Alyssa: I bought my first-ever piece of artwork! I wanted to commemorate my first work trip. It’s a painting of an adorable cow with a purple nose – I named her Sheila and she currently hangs in my living room.
Taylor: After the junk market we went to Alley Fair, a small, community-centric art fair and event held in a spacious alley behind the Red Raven Espresso Parlor. There was art, live music, food, and good vibes all around. It reminded me so much of events in my college town of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and I felt so at home. As if we weren’t already in love with Fargo, I definitely fell in love with it that day!
The team in #NorthDakota got to attend Alley Fair!
Sunday, September 21: Finally, A Nap!
Alyssa: Sunday was pretty low-key. We met a student for coffee at Atomic Coffeehouse downtown to talk about Measure 1 work, then we grabbed a greasy breakfast at Randy’s University Diner.
Taylor: Then we headed back to Karen’s and took a much-needed nap.
Alyssa: That evening, we returned to the Red Raven to attend a Plants For Patients event. We’d run into Meg, the Plants For Patients creator and organizer, several times throughout the trip and wanted to attend her event to show our support for what she does. Plants For Patients is a completely nonprofit, kind-spirited act of love. Meg, who has a degree from NDSU in ceramics, makes pots and plants tiny, adorable plants in them. The plants, along with a heartfelt card like the ones we helped make that night, is given to any patient at the Red River Valley Women’s Clinic who wants one. It’s such a genuinely kind project, I’m moved to tears whenever I think about it!
Taylor: Alyssa bought a Plants For Patients t-shirt that she’s wearing right now, actually! I bought a hoodie. We both wanted to support Meg and her heartwarming project.
We went to a @Plants4Patients event and wrote cards for women’s clinic patients! #NorthDakota View on Instagram
Monday, September 22: Welcome to Grand Forks
Alyssa: We spent the day about two hours north of Fargo, in Grand Forks. There, we spoke to a class at the University of North Dakota (UND) to drum up some interest in working on the campaign. And it worked! Two young women met up with us later at a coffeehouse and we hired them on the spot!
Taylor: After our time on campus, we grabbed dinner at the Blue Moose in West Grand Forks, Minnesota. There was a lot of border hoppin’ on this trip!
Taylor and Alyssa at The Blue Moose after a long day of organizing! #NDAM1 View on Instagram
Tuesday, September 23: So. Much. Food.
Alyssa: Tuesday was our last day in North Dakota, and we were bummed about it! We consoled ourselves with a trip to Blackbird Wood Fire Pizza, which we all agreed was truly the best pizza any of us had ever had. I mean, whoa. But before, that, we took a trip to the Red River Women’s Clinic, the only clinic in the state of North Dakota. We met some of the incredible women who work there, took a tour, and talked with them about how we could help them defeat Measure 1, which has a huge impact on the future of the clinic.
Taylor: That afternoon, we met up with all of our student organizers at Wasabi Sushi to give them some final information and materials before we left. Later that night, we ate at a Midwestern staple: Culver’s. I describe it to people who didn’t grow up with it as the Chipotle of burger places. It’s unbelievably good, and as a Midwesterner myself, it’s the taste of home!
BLESS THE MIDWEST. ❤️ View on Instagram
Wednesday, September 24: Homecoming
Alyssa: We left before dawn to catch our flight back to DC and Susie’s flight back to California. We got home by about noon. Though I absolutely loved ND, it felt good to be back!
Taylor: I loved getting to spend time back in the Midwest, so that was really refreshing for me. But I did enjoy returning home to my own bed – and my cat.
Fargo, day 2. #NorthDakota, help us vote no on Measure 1! View on Instagram