Here’s what I’ve come up with so far to help myself become more civically active and involved in the issues that are important to me in the wake of this year’s election. (Here’s my post kicking off the #ProgressiveMomsProject.)
While there are some last-ditch efforts to stop the rise of literally Voldemort to the presidency, I’m focusing on the future and how I can support the people, organizations and policies that hold with my values in the earnest hope my son’s generation won’t suffer the consequences of my generation’s inaction.
I was sort of hoping to compile a complete list of 100+ things to do weekly from here until the November 2018 mid-term elections, but I think I need to stay more agile than that as needs and opportunities arise. (I have been Tweeting out specific action steps that have been suggested to me. Feel free to keep those coming!)
Instead (thanks to some good crowdsourcing–thanks, friends!) I’ve come up with a list of issues to focus on each month through the next year (maybe I’ll recycle them in 2018, maybe I’ll intersperse new ones) for a Calendar of Citizenship.
Each week of that month, I’ll do one of the following:
- Do my homework — research the issue, identify where I stand, and publish helpful links to articles, organizations and polices relevant to that issue.
- Contact an elected official — I will contact an elected official regarding my stance on the issue. Here’s a great instruction manual that’s been circulating on the most effective ways to engage with representatives in a way that makes them pay attention. While online petitions and form emails are easy, they’re also easiest to dismiss, so as much as I hate phone calls, I’m going to do my best to make a few.
- Make a donation — I don’t have a ton of money, but I will make small gifts (recurring, when possible) to the organizations and campaigns that are most likely to preserve and fight for things I believe in.
- Act small — As one of my friends reminded me, “All politics is local.” I will try to find a way each month to do something that impacts my neighbors, whether it’s attending a meeting, volunteering, finding out my local school district’s policies, encouraging my friends to join me, having a productive conversation with someone who might not agree with me. I think this is probably the hardest category of goals, because it’s not something I can do from my couch. But I also think it is sorely absent from most people’s politics (definitely mine) and can be really powerful.
Here are my plans for particular themes and issues the next 13 months (including November). I should also mention at this point that I don’t expect to have a full education on any one of these topics with just a month to go over them. This is merely a starting point for losing some of my ignorance.
November 2016: Getting it together
This month I’m focusing on assembling my toolbox:
- Launching this project
- Making this list
- Assembling a list of all my elected representatives and how to reach them
- Making any immediate donations that I don’t think can wait. (Here’s a good list if you’re targeting your end-of-year donations.)
- I’ve also filled my pockets with safety pins and have been trying to wear one whenever I go out. I know it’s a small gesture, and not without controversy, but I think it is a step in the right direction to express solidarity with people feeling vulnerable in the wake of the election.
December 2016: Voting Rights and Voter Suppression
I also include gerrymandering in this area. I have a LOT to learn.
January 2017: Racial Equality
Understanding my own privilege and how I can use it to lift up others without it.
February 2017: LGBTQ Rights
Because love is love.
March 2017: Reproductive Rights
Access to birth control, abortion and other issues regarding reproductive freedoms.
April 2017: Climate Change
I hope the EPA still exists in April. Oh, God!
May 2017: Immigration
Turning the heat off under the melting pot
June 2017: Equal Pay
Can’t wait to give my 80 percent of two cents on this topic.
July 2017: Separation of Church and State
Religious freedom and freedom from religion
August 2017: Parental Leave
Maternity and paternity leave: How it affects babies’ health, their parents’ careers and the economy.
September 2017: Election Spending
Or, why corporations are people?
October 2017: Health Care
I really wonder what the state of the ACA will be 11 months from now…
November 2017: Gun Control
Can’t wait for the NRA trolls on this one.
December 2017: Civil discourse, or what I’ve learned about being a citizen
A look back at my project so far and a recalibration for 2018.
I know there are issues that aren’t covered here, but I think this is a pretty good start. I hope this project will be useful for keeping me on track. If you’re like me and overwhelmed, intimidated and/or easily sidetracked when it comes to political activism, I hope you’ll join me in taking action when you can. Follow along with my handy calendar or make your own list of issues.