Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A Call to Action: An Avalanche of Ways to Act, Right Now

In this next edition of Wendy's "Call to Action" series, she alerts you to a number of ways you can take an action to make a difference.

In the aftermath of the march, my in-box has been overwhelmed with emails from organizations I support with my time, my voice and often my dollars.  These emails are teeming with suggestions on how to take action in this first week of the Trump administration.  There's a LOT of anger, a lot of foaming at the bit to do something.  In the coming year, we're going to need to organize ourselves so we can get strategic about our approach to the midterm elections. But for today and the next several weeks, I think we need to use all this excited energy to continue to protest, loudly, clearly, and without interruption.  

Since I'm imagining that your in-boxes also are full with ideas of how you can participate in answering the call to action, I don't want to try to reinvent the wheel here.  But several readers have made suggestions that I'd like to pass on to you.

Postcards.  This suggestion has come from a few friends as well as from Women on Watch.  The idea is to make a 49 cent investment and to absolutely flood politicians' mailboxes with postcards.  Some suggest we write to Trump to protest (fill in the blank here).  Others suggest that we write to Paul Ryan, our own Congressional leaders, our state legislators, you pick.  One friend suggested that we host postcard parties; all you need is a little wine and cheese,  a stack of postcards and a pen.

One idea that seems to be gaining traction is  flooding the White House with postcards supporting the ACA.  For those who wonder what they should write, not much is needed as the objective is simply to be heard and counted.  "I'm writing to oppose the repeal of the Affordable Health Care Act," is enough. Embellish if the spirit moves you.

Calls are also effective.  The first time I called a Congressional office, I felt some trepidation because I'm no policy wonk.  I got over that fast.  Write yourself a two sentence script and dial away.  Again, you're calling to be heard and counted.

Here's a link to contact information for your elected officials from Trump right down to your local community: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials

Start a Facebook page for your community.  This suggestion came in the comments section of my last post.  I copy it here verbatim  with thanks.

In my town, Westfield, NJ, right after the presidential election, a small group of women started a secret Facebook page to mobilize like-minded people to take action. Members invite others to join the group. The group continues to grow (including women and men). Because of the group's posts on FB, I have made several calls to our senators and our Republican congressman about a couple of key issues. Now we are talking about next steps to unseat members of our all-Republican town council and our mayor, and more importantly, to try to band with other towns in our Congressional district to unseat our Republican Congressman. He won with 54% of the vote, last November, while the largely unfunded, very young, no-name-recognition Democratic candidate garnered only 43%. I urge people in other towns to do the same. You start with a few people, who then invite other Democrats, and the group grows and grows until you have a local movement. Last Wednesday, 100 people showed up outside our congressman's office in our town and demanded that he oppose repeal of the ACA. He seemed very surprised, and then invited about 20 people into his office to talk. They told him to repair the ACA, not repeal it. He said that repeal and replace IS repair. We're not buying it. We are getting ready to bring pressure to bear. He won't know what hit him. You all can do the same. Let's take back Congress in 2018, and start now.

I have a new morning routine.  After a cup of tea and the crossword, I read the paper.  Inevitably, well before I'm off page one, I'm furious about something, usually more than one thing.  I go to my desk and I fire off a call or note to my legislators.  This makes me feel as if I've gotten the day off to a productive start.

I often spend some time in the day volunteering for either Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic or Hope's Door, a domestic violence agency near where I live.  We all know that Planned Parenthood has long been under siege and there are myriad ways you can help, from volunteering at a local health center to joining their Action Fund advocacy activities to writing a check.

Did you know that in New York State -- New York! -- Roe v Wade is not fully codified in the law?  Codifying Roe v Wade is the tenth point of the NYS Women's Equality Act and it's a sticking point that has never been passed.  Now, with a Trump appointment to the Supreme Court just days away, it's more important than ever to pass this legislation.  If you agree and you live in NY, please sign this petition:


If this is not the issue that most resonates for you, we certainly are not at a loss for causes under duress.  Did you know that the Trump administration is threatening to defund the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)? VAWA was passed with bipartisan support to protect victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, an issue that affects a whopping one out of every three women.  Potential cuts to VAWA threaten the ability of domestic violence agencies throughout the country to serve victimized men and women.

Here's what I sent to my representatives in support of VAWA.  Please consider following suit.

I am writing to express my dismay at proposed cuts to VAWA.  As a volunteer at a domestic violence agency, I know firsthand how critical these funds are to protecting victims of domestic abuse.  One in three women are affected by sexual coercion, physical violence or psychological abuse in their lifetimes. We owe these women, who are among those least able to advocate for themselves, our support,  protection and a chance to rebuild their lives -- we all will be stronger for it.  I encourage you to oppose efforts to cut VAWA funding.  Given the sordid details revealed about Trump's treatment of women, now more than ever, we need your fierce advocacy.  Thank you.

And if this is not the issue that most resonates for you, choose the one that does ... gun control, climate change, LBGTQ  rights, education  ... whatever it is, I urge you to devote some of your pent up energy to your cause.  You'll be needed over these next four years.

One thing I've learned through volunteering is that while we need both the macro view about how to affect change -- through policy and bricks and mortar and lobbying -- we also need the human touch.  When we understand people's stories, how their lives are impacted by those macro policies, or lack thereof, we become better advocates and we change lives while policy is written and makes its way through the slow machinery of change.

So I encourage you to do both.  Write those letters and make those calls, go to those marches and rallies.  But also volunteer close in so you keep in sight the people who you want to help.  I'd love to have you send me your stories.  Let's keep it up.

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