I have a love affair with Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. I vividly remember the first time I enjoyed a cone. It was about 9 pm on December 31, 1999. I was sitting in a field in the Everglades, edging closer and closer to the stage for hours while I waited for Phish to ring in the new Millennium. I suddenly realized I couldn’t remember the last time I ate. The closest food was a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream stall, featuring Phish Food. I went back at least 4 times before Phish came on stage, giving myself (and some friends) calories to dance my ass off well into the night. Phish Food remains my favorite flavor.
It’s easy to keep on loving Ben & Jerry’s because in addition to being delicious and having great taste in music they do so much good work with their company. We have all seen Ben & Jerry’s use their popularity to support some great causes – ranging from needy kids to GMOs to Democracy. This year their partnership with HeadCount for Free Cone Day was phenomenal, and there so much left to come.
But this week they took our relationship to another level. They rolled into North Carolina and stood on stage with the NC NAACP and announced a new flavor
, Empower Mint – the proceeds from the sale of this flavor will benefit the NC NAACP’s efforts to restore the Voting Rights Act and repeal NC’s voter suppression laws. I saw the mobile ice cream truck that will be rolling around NC registering voters and featuring a pledge to vote card (through a partnership with HeadCount). I stood in the rain for 2 hours listening to the speakers and tasting the delicious ice cream. I felt some national support for the crises in voter rights in NC. I felt hope thanks to Empower Mint.
I have spent most of my adult life volunteering and working with HeadCount because I believe in Democracy. I believe our country works if we vote. It has been hard to live in North Carolina since 2013 and see access to voting stripped, laws changed, limits created. It’s not just NC by any means … but this is my home. And while we show up to protest, make every effort to take a stand for fair and equitable access to voting, I have to admit I’ve gotten a little tired, hopelessness has been slowly creeping into my heart. My work with HeadCount keeps me sane most of the time, knowing I am making a dent in civic engagement here and across the country.