There are some topics that are easy to discuss with friends and family, no matter the setting: the weather… wait, is that it?!

For everything else there’s Relational Organizing!

Minnesota NORML has been organizing around the issue of legalization of marijuana for quite some time. They know it can be a popular topic. But also a complicated, controversial and painful one for so many.

Michael Ford, MN NORML’s Executive Director, knows this as well as anyone. Which is why this past cycle, they invested in their first-ever Relational Organizing program. Relational Organizing gave them an opportunity to engage and activate their members and volunteers to take some of their first steps toward ending prohibition in Minnesota.

Using RO they were able to harness the power and the importance of reaching out to their immediate family and friends to encourage them to get involved at the most basic level of organizing. From trainings and first-hand experience, they were able to get better responses because the asks were coming directly from people they knew.

“It was a great opportunity for people to reach out and talk to their families, especially over a couple of the holidays, about legalization. [Empower] gave them a path to talk to them about things that normally we wouldn’t talk about. It helped our people know how to start those hard conversations and then provided a path to keeping the conversations going.”

Not only did Relational Organizing help them grow their ranks — it also helped them fill their leadership pipeline, allowing them to execute the building of new programs within their organization. 

Between their Relational Organizing and Leadership Development Programs, they were able to train and develop new Leaders, teaching them along the way how to set up calls to action, start conversations with friends and family, frame their organizational messages to recruit new supporters from within their communities, and more.

All of this helped them to increase their outreach to supporters and grow their base of support.

Even in the midst of a difficult year, filled with endlessly difficult conversations, MN NORML was able to normalize the difficult conversation of legalization. And that is a huge step in the direction of their ultimate goal.

Congratulations to our partners at MN NORML for their fantastic leadership this past cycle. We’re so proud to get to work with you as you continue to push for progress in Minnesota and throughout the country.

Learn more about them and their work at