Take ACTION

What Next?

What NOW?  What do we do after the marches on Saturday?  

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How do we take all that energy and passion and and momentum . . . and push a little further?

Well.

The folks who organized the DC March have a plan!  As a follow-up to the Women's March they have launched a new campaign:  10 Actions/100 Days.

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Every 10 days - for the first 100 days of the new administration - Hear Our Voice will take action on a new issue we all care about.  You can read more about the campaign here -- and you can sign up for email alerts.

This week?  Action 1/10:  Write a postcard to your senators about what matters most to YOU -- and how you're going to continue to fight for it in the days and weeks and months ahead.  You can download postcards from the site -- or you can use any old postcard you may already have on hand.  (The postcard design isn't important --- but the message you write on the postcard IS!)  

Just write what's in your heart -- about the issues that matter most to you.

If you don't already know the addresses for you senators, the site has a nifty little tool that will spit out their address if you provide your zip code.

This is a quick, easy action that you can take TODAY.

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Check out the site.

Sign up for future alerts.

Write your postcards TODAY.

YES. WE. CAN.

 


Only the Beginning

Well.

That was pretty awesome!

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Like many of you, I marched on Saturday.

I headed to Lansing - in the fog - with 3 of my friends.  We knew it was going to be BIG . . . when we arrived at our Park-and-Ride meet-up point here in Kalamazoo . . . and found the lot overflowing!  There were women meeting women everywhere -- but no places to park.  (We took the last available spots.)  

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The Michigan March on Lansing organizers were hoping for 2,500 . . . and ended up with a crowd of about 9,000!

Here's a photo (not my photo, and unfortunately, I can't figure out who to credit) of the crowd gathering on the grounds of the capitol building.  Later in the day, we spilled out over the sidewalks and into the streets.

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Lots of energy.

Lots of passion.  

And so many pink hats!

It really was inspiring to be part of this event.

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And the signs?  Oh, they were the best!  Here are a few of my favorites . . .

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And, several signs that are, sadly, especially poignant here in Michigan (because, yes -- the Flint water crisis is still very real) . . .

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So much energy!

 It was wonderful to participate in solidarity with my daughter - marching in Pittsburgh, my sister - marching in Cheyenne, my daughter-in-law - marching in Denver, and all of YOU -- all around the the country . . . and the world! 

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YES. WE. CAN.


We The People

For me - for many of us - this Friday will be a sad, grief-filled day.  A day of mourning.  A day when the most unqualified and most undeserving ... character ... will be sworn in to the highest office in the land.  

This is a hard week to Find the Good, but find it we must.  With a little work, we can make this week - and Friday, in particular - a day of redemption.  A day of resistance.

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Here's my ACTION plan for this week.  Join me!

Dress the Part

I am in mourning; I will be wearing black this week.  With an occasional pop of color from my pussyhat.

Unplug

On Friday, I will not turn on my television to watch the inauguration.  I'm also planning to stay away from social media.  Seeing the event, reading about the event, analyzing the event . . . none of this will help me.  And I don't want to give my attention or my time or my emotions to . . . the spectacle.

Commit

On January 20, Tom and I will join with millions of other Americans in the Wall-of-Us project called Take the Oath.  We will raise our right hands and take this oath:  "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute my role as an American, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”   And then . . . we will.  We will be part of the movement.  Read more about Take the Oath here.

Give

January 20 is the perfect day for a bit of financial activism!  There are so many good organizations full of committed and devoted people working hard to fight discrimination, injustice, inequality, and bigotry.  Sustain their work; support their work.  Find an organization you believe in and give generously -- because money talks!

Dig In

If you've been thinking about getting more involved in your community, NOW is the time.  There are causes and organizations right in your own community that can use your help.  You might have to get your hands a little dirty -- but that's what it takes to bridge a divide.  Your work can truly make a difference.  Since the election, I've been looking for ways to plug in right here in Kalamazoo.  I just finished an extensive training program to become a certified Adult Literacy Tutor for the Kalamazoo Literacy Council.  I'm waiting to be matched with a new adult learner, but in the meantime, I've just volunteered to work in one of the literacy centers here in town.  I also joined the League of Women Voters -- and discovered a very active group here in Kalamazoo.  There are so many ways to get involved.  Find the one that works for you; start looking TODAY.

Read

Staying informed and understanding the issues is vital right now.  Our new President . . . boasts of "not reading."  So, today, read something challenging that you might not otherwise take the time to read.  Pay for subscription services to news publications that will bring high-quality news to you:  the New York Times, Washington Post, the New Yorker, the Atlantic, Vanity Fair.  Donate to NPR.  Support the news outlets that bring you the news you need.  Seek out essays and books about hot-button issues; find out about the lives of people in parts of America you just don't understand.  Challenge yourself.  Read!

Reflect, Meditate, Pray

Take time this week - and especially on Friday - to get away from the noise and the volume and the sheer hoopla.  If you can, get outside.  Take a walk.  Spend some time meditating or praying.  Allow yourself to find solace and peace.  Prepare yourself for the work ahead.  It's supposed to be warm(ish) here on Friday.  I'm hoping to get out in my garden -- maybe prune a few shrubs and clean up some of my "winter interest."  I'll take my dogs for a walk.  And I'll spend some time meditating and journaling.  It's important to shut out some of the drama and connect with your own center.

Create

There is much ugliness in the world right now.  Let's resist by creating beauty.  Spend time this week doing the things that give you life.  Knit.  Paint.  Stitch.  Tie flies.  Sew.  Write.  Play the piano.  Create something beautiful.  Use your gifts -- as an act of creative resistance.  I'm hoping to finish my Peace Cowl this week.

Get Out There

The majority of voters in this country did not vote for our soon-to-be President.  We don't share his values.  We didn't give him a mandate.  Let's stand shoulder-to-shoulder and stay visible.  There are marches and protests scheduled for Saturday, January 21 all over the world -- sister marches for the Women's March in Washington DC.  If you're not going to DC, find a march or rally or protest near you -- and GO.  (Here's a link to help you find marches in your state or country.)  I will be heading to Lansing with a carload of friends for the March on Lansing.  Maybe I'll see some of my Michigan friends there.

Rest - and Have a Drink

There's a lot to be done -- and it's going to take a sustained effort well beyond inauguration week.  Make sure to rest, kick back a bit.  And have a drink!  Thea has put together a list (with recipes) of most excellent pussydrinks.  I may try the Elizabeth Warren -- or I may just open a really fine bottle of red wine.

Yes.  This week is a tough one.  But we - we the people - will endure.  Because, well . . . America is already great.  And it has nothing to do with our incoming (ahem) leader.

 

 


Action Tuesday: Let's Read

I just love Goodreads!  It's like a virtual library . . . you can wander through all the virtual bookshelves you could ever imagine.  It's such a handy place to keep track of books you've read, books you want to read, the books your friends read.  You can write reviews and award stars.  There are even virtual book groups and author book talks.  

And, best of all, at the end of the year, Goodreads provides you with your reading stats.

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In looking through my year-end stats on Goodreads, I see that I gave 26 books a 5-star rating. In fact, my average rating for the year was just over 4 stars . . . which tells me I'm a pretty good judge about the kinds of books I'm going to like to read!

If I were going to pick my 5 favorite books in 2016, it would be these:

I've already made a good start with my 2017 reading.  I have a few specific goals.  

  • First, in terms of quantity, I set my Goodreads Challenge at 75 books this year.  This is an increase, but manageable.  And, truth be told, much more in line with the # of books I typically read in a year.
  • Next, in terms of quality, I always have a goal of reading many/most of the nominees from my favorite book awards:  The Orange Prize, The Man Booker Prize, and the National Book Award.  (I have never read ALL of the nominees.  Ever.  But it's always my goal!)
  • And, new for me this year, I want to try to read books that will shake up my perspective and worldview a bit.  You see, since the election this year, I have come to realize that I really and truly hang out in a very specific . . . bubble!  I need to get outside that bubble - even if I don't want to, and even if it's going to make me uncomfortable.  

In other words, this year I'm going to read a few books that I might never (in a million years) choose to read otherwise.

It's another way to take ACTION:  to learn; to expand our perspective; to get out from under our bubbles.  In the words of New York Times columnist Ross Douthat*, reading books that critique Western liberalism can give us a "clearer sense of [our] own worldviews, limits, blind spots, blunders and internal contradictions."

With that it mind, I'm planning to read a couple of books already on my Goodreads To-Read shelf.  These two are books that might help me understand the "red state" thing from a different perspective: Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance and Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning in the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild.

I'm thinking about reading How Propaganda Works by Jason Stanley.  Although this one looks a bit ... academic ... it might help me understand how propaganda is working to undermine democracy, and maybe get my head around this whole "post-truth" concept.

I'll definitely read this article in The Atlantic by Ta-Nehisi Coates.  His writing always challenges my  thinking -- and it's essential to understand the racial element of Trumpism.

Ross Douthat of the NY Times recommends The Revolt of the Elites by Christopher Lasch and Who Are We? The Challenges to American National Identity by Samuel P. Huntington.  According to Douthat, both of these books illustrate how Western elite has "burned the candle at both ends," resulting in a rather gross mis-read of the political situation in both Europe and the United States.  

These books will not be "light" reading at all, and - in fact - many of these titles sound downright disturbing to me.  But.  I will be reading at least a few of these books this year.  Because it's important to understand the context of our world.

Bottom line?  READ something unexpected.  Step out of your bubble.  

That's ACTION!

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You can read Ross Douthat's recent op-ed piece in the New York Times, Books for the Trump Era, here.


The More We Are Seen, The More We Are Heard

Okay, Knitters.  It's time to take ACTION.

Get out your pink yarn.

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And join the PussyHat Project!

Knit a hat for yourself . . . knit a hat for a marcher . . . knit a hat for your daughter . . . knit a hat for your friends.  Just . . . knit a pink Pussyhat.

You can read all the details on the PussyHat Project website, including information on where to send hats (if you're knitting for marchers).  There is also a Ravelry group.

Knitting . . . can be a powerful action.
Power in numbers.

Power in pink.
Power in individuality within large groups.
Power in handmade.
Power in pussy.

Okay.  Let's knit hats!


Take Action: Money Talks

After the election, and during this bizarre transition phase, I remain particularly troubled by threats to causes and issues I care about most: the environment, women's rights, civil liberties, anti-discrimination, and access to health care.  

It's overwhelming, really.  Because the threats are everywhere -- and real.  

I've decided to put my money where my heart is . . . and give to organizations that will continue to champion these causes that I hold dear.  And you know what?  A whole lot of other people are doing the same thing!

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In fact, this article from The Atlantic, written shortly after the election, explains that donations to organizations like Planned Parenthood, Sierra Club, the ACLU, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations have just gone through the roof.  Another article, this one from the Washington Post, speaks of the "unprecedented" levels of giving after the election.

It seems that many of us want to DO SOMETHING.  And making donations is a way for us to respond positively and concretely to a very disturbing situation.

There's even a term evolving for this motivation to give:  rage donating.  According to this article in the Boston Globe, "rage donations" have become an anti-Trump movement.  The concept has even spawned a website - RageDonate - designed to harness the power of anger to deliver real change.  Their tagline? Get mad and help others get even.  They feature actual DJT quotes . . . and then select non-profit organizations threatened by each quote for rage donations.  Check it out.  It's empowering!

My Take Action Challenge to you this week is this:  Consider the causes and issues you hold most dear, then donate what you can to organizations working to champion those causes and issues.  And remember -- EVERY donation helps -- no matter the amount.  Just . . . put your money where your heart is!

As for me?  I'm funneling my charitable giving dollars to the following organizations:

  • American Civil Liberties Union - because I want to protect our constitutional rights and processes
  • Planned Parenthood - because I care about women's health and access to affordable health care
  • Sierra Club - because I care about the environment AND I believe climate change is real
  • NPR - because I care about aggressive news coverage - now more than ever

Want to take action?  GIVE!

 


Tuesday? ACTION!

FOUR Tuesdays ago . . . I sat there, watching my computer bring me election updates, stunned.  

Numb, in fact.  

Sick.

And, really . . . four Tuesdays later, I'm still pretty much there.  (Although I am sleeping through the night now, so that's a plus.)

After giving the whole thing quite a bit of thought (and a lot of angst), I've decided that, really, the only way to deal with post-election madness and the upcoming (gulp) DJT presidency is to take ACTION.

On Tuesdays, I'm going to put together some sort of ACTION-related blog post.  Sometimes, I'll pass on direct actions you might choose to take; sometimes, I'll share information; and sometimes I may even bring you something to laugh about.  My aim is to provide information we can use . . . to stay informed, prepare ourselves, raise our voices, and make a difference.  Because one thing is for sure . . . I can't just sit here.  I need to do something!

So.  Where to start?  (Because there is just So Much.)

I'll begin here. . .

This morning, as I was driving to the gym, I heard this story on NPR.  (I can't find the NPR story I heard, so the link from ABC news will have to do.)  An off-duty police officer, who also happens to be a Muslim woman, was subjected to verbal threats by an angry man in her Brooklyn neighborhood.  (The man has since been charged with menacing as a hate crime.)

This type of news story is becoming increasingly more common.  It certainly seems that hate crimes are on the rise since the election (actually, since the campaign madness).*  

It gets me thinking. . . What can I DO if I encounter someone being harassed?  How would I take action?  How could I help?  I want to be prepared.

Here's a nifty little infographic that offers practical tips for helping diffuse harassment.

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This short video by Films for Action also provides practical advice for what to do if you are a witness to harassment.

While I'm hoping I don't encounter this kind of situation, at least I'm feeling more prepared and ready to act.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
                                                   ---Margaret Mead

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*  Here's an interesting article about hate crimes reporting and the difficulty in obtaining meaningful, consistent data.  While it certainly does seem that hate crimes are on the rise, it is difficult to state with clarity how much.