It’s summer– if you’re one of our academic readers, you may finally have the feeling that your head is above water and you can start paying attention to the world again. If you’re not an academic, this post still applies to you. :)
Right now, there’s a huge groundswell of support for the resistance. Change is finally possible. People want to do things, aren’t sure what to do.
(There may also be some burn-out given how it seems like we’re treading water and still being dragged under. But things would be much worse if we weren’t resisting at all. Hang in there!)
What best to do depends on where you live… blue states often have organizations and networks. Groups tend to know what is out there and they’ve got connections. It’s pretty easy to join something that matches your interests and become a foot soldier for justice.
Unfortunately, even liberal cities in red states may not have these kinds of networks. Instead they may have lots of separate little groups that each do their own thing. This ends up leading to duplication of effort, especially if, for example, the local democratic party is small and disorganized and hasn’t tried to pull things together.
There are some things that you can do in these situations that may have a big effect:
Just figuring out what the groups are and introducing them to each other can multiply the effects of what each group is doing. Leaders can coordinate on bigger events. They can let each other know what’s going on. They can do better crowd-sourcing of simple things. They can share effort. First you need to find out what these groups *are* and how to contact them. A more advanced step would be to invite all of the leaders to a leaders meeting so that they can meet each other and share their abilities and needs across the community. My DH nudged the local dems to do this in our area. My sister got together the leaders in her major city– she rented out one of the big library spaces and put out the call. It’s possible this has already been done where you live which is great, but if my sister’s major red state (blue) city was fragmented, then yours may be too.
Another problem with some of these organizations is that they don’t realize some of the problems that they have with their systems. For example, our local dems had no idea that they had a huge backlog of people signing up to join from their webpage back from November until DH met with the head of the dems in January or February and asked her to look into it. Turns out their automated email system wasn’t working and they’d had no idea. If things aren’t running smoothly, sometimes it just takes a small check to find that there’s been a technical glitch. If you’ve tried to join a group and met with silence, it may be worth following up. There may be other systems that could benefit from a little bit of streamlining.
Both of the above in our town resulted from a 30 min meeting DH had with the head of the local dems.
More standard things you can do (in order of how hard they seem to us):
- Check your voter registration. Register to vote
- Get on a weekly mailing list and follow their instructions (or a subset of their instructions)
- Find and visit the local groups in your city
- Figure out who is doing things well and join them
- Figure out who is doing things poorly and fix them (either via nudging or taking over small parts– nobody seems to get upset when you fix their technical problems). Make sure if you take this step that you’re actually helping/doing the work and not just bro-splaining that people are “doing it wrong”.
- Connect local groups to each other
- Get other people to be active. I haven’t yet figured out how to get the bros who complain (loudly, in the hallway) but do nothing to lift a single finger, but there are a lot of people out there who want to do stuff but either need a little nudging or a little direction. Talk to folks– you might be surprised!
- Go to protests
- Become a voter registrar for your state
- Register voters
- Get other people to register voters!
- Call harder
- Write letters to the editor
- Figure out where your rep is going to be, be there, and say something
- Do a district office visit with your representatives
- Start your own #indivisible or #resist group
- Run for local office
- Run for state office
- Run for federal office
Grumpy nation– what am I missing? What resources have you found or are you using? What else should/could we be doing? Suggestions for activism links?