Remember back in 2016 when we thought the year was so impossible because a bunch of rock stars died? Hahahaha. Ha. Ha. (I’m not trying to downplay those losses, but the losses since then have been… Ugh. Yeah.) So you’ve lived through 2017 too, and it was stunningly rough. And now we are in for the long haul, right?
For me, the news has become at times over 2017 a source of deep despair, and there’s no getting around that. At the same time, the news is sometimes so bad that it pushes me into a state of numb despair. Hoping someone will post a convenient action item on Facebook just isn’t working anymore–there are too many actions to take, too many outrages, and it would take a full-time staff to sort out what to do and how to do it.
Wonderfully, in the midst of this national cyclone bomb of crises, a number of activists have stepped up to aggregate action and news together. Some break down news to discuss its activist implications, and others lead to action steps. These are the folks that have saved some shred of piece of mind for me. Maybe you’ll be inspired by one or more of these projects and get on their mailing lists.
I’m offering these because I think it’s a good time to recommit to engagement and taking action. Let’s square our shoulders and get ready to fight for the Blue Wave of midterm elections. What have I missed? What’s helpful for you in making decisions about how to use your activist energy?
Americans of Conscience Checklist–Jen Hoffman curates this newsletter, which has a measured and encouraging tone that really seems designed to keep people going for the long haul. I kind of love her. You receive a newsletter on Sunday night framing what’s going on for the week in a non-screamy tone. Instead, she includes plenty of encouragement about what the community is achieving. Each email includes links to a Google doc with actions to take during the week. And one Sunday a month is “rest and reflection,” so there’s no action, just questions to think about.
5 Calls–www.5calls.org–This is a great site. I don’t visit it enough anymore and I am RECOMMITTING in 2018 to getting my ass in gear. Every week they offer a wide menu of calls and issues you can make based on your most pressing concerns. There’s even a way to track your progress on the site, and what’s more, it makes you feel really good. When you hit the five calls, it’s like reaching your FitBit step goals (not that that ever actually happens for me). And honest to gosh, there is an APP you can download! That is the coolest. I just downloaded it.
Higher Heights–This isn’t a weekly action site, per se, but it supports the efforts to get
Black Women into leadership. There’s an online community. From the site: “Higher Heights is building a national strategy to mobilize one million Black women and dollars by 2020 in order to harness their collective economic and voting power.” That’s clearly a great cause, so I send them money whenever I’m feeling depressed and then I feel better. They are seeking Black women to host salons to engage other Black women in political organizing and outreach.
Indivisible–Indivisible.org–I don’t like the word “robust” as a techie buzzword, but this site deserves the adjective. It is CHOCK FULL of all kinds of good info, background, and action alerts. They do a caller-to-caller peer app that lets you sign up to call voters in swing states when there are issues that Congress needs to lobby on. The site is increasingly organized around actions taken by local Indivisible chapters but also includes plenty of actions for activists living away from those groups.
Postcards to Voters–postcardstovoters.org–My friend Ann let me know about this site, and I’m just getting involved. This very organized effort hand-writes postcards to voters in upcoming elections and has an automated text bot for letting you receive addresses. There is a Facebook group and there are also even companion vendors that will sell you pre-stamped postcards. A concrete way of making a difference that has been shown to get results on election days.
WTF Just Happened Today?— This news aggregator is a guy, Matt Kiser, who has morphed this into his full-time job, and I don’t think I could function without his news bullets. He doesn’t cover everything, but he does cover the most important stuff in the briefest way possible, with emojis and with links to the news stories. For me, he’s been essential in sorting out the ongoing investigations into the Trump Administration’s Russia-Gate. There’s also an online community where you can chat about the news, and it’s provided some very informed context when all I could do is scream into the living room: “WTF????” And there’s a podcast. What I love about this is it comes out in the evening, after the daily shit-show, so you can basically digest things and sleep. There aren’t really any action items but the site makes functionality and therefore action possible for me.
Women’s March Power to the Polls–I’m putting this on here in hopes that something better develops from the site. Right now there’s lots of background, and a place where you can register to vote online and presumably help other people register to vote. There used to be a guide for doing voter registration drives but now I can’t find it on the site.
What are your action go-to’s?