What are you doing? (political action discussion thread) July 23, 2019 11:50 AM   Subscribe

It's been a while since we've had a general MeTa thread for folks to share what they've been doing to fight the power and improve their little corner of the world, and I thought it might be nice to check back in with folks. So, MetaFilter, what sorts of things are we trying to do these days to make the world a better place? (Most recent general thread I could find; US-border-specific thread from a few weeks ago is still open).
posted by sugar and confetti to MetaFilter-Related at 11:50 AM (40 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

Welp. In the last month, Alaska’s governor has set the state on fire and pushed it off a cliff- particularly our university system, which has just declared financial exigency. I have written lots of letters and called everyone who needs to be called, donated to campaigns of people who will challenge the minority leading and in favor of this disaster, gone to rallies, and encouraged others to do the same. And reached out directly to the people I know who are or will be directly affected by this rolling crisis which is...a lot of people. It still sucks and I feel over my head and like I’m not doing enough, and that’s without even thinking about stuff at the national level.
posted by charmedimsure at 2:11 PM on July 23, 2019 [7 favorites]

I've been off MetaFilter for a while, partly because I've taken a break from the news. Came back recently, partly for the devilled eggs. Have still been working away at school improvement as a school governor. It's been going almost laughably awfully - we now have joint worst results in the country for one key stage subject. I do not think school governing is a good system in the current economic climate. It may have worked better to improve schools when local authorities were less strapped. I did resign, then unresigned as the school sank further into crisis, and am committed to it for another term at least. They have given me some sunflowers. My mother said "with all the chaos going on it's something that they can manage to organise flowers".
posted by paduasoy at 2:48 PM on July 23, 2019 [4 favorites]

(Can one sink into crisis? Leap into crisis? Shuffle into crisis?)
posted by paduasoy at 2:54 PM on July 23, 2019

I haven't done much lately, politically, except gently pushing back on friend's privilege by calling them in.

Though, I did read through California's new AB 2178, post a writeup arguing how it shouldn't effect private citizens giving out food since they fall under other non food facility exemptions, and tagged the assembly member who wrote it on FB, after a friend said a cop in sacramento tried to stop him giving homeless people water in 100+ heat.

The bill was ostensibly about creating a new way for non profit charitable organizations to give out hot food without having to have food safety inspections like a retail organization where they instead register with law enforcement, and it's use to threaten individuals is shameful. My friend is a cis straight passing white guy and said his young son made him promise to do it, and the cop didn't charge/cite him, but not everyone with compassion has his privilege.

I'm not sure how to follow up, other than a letter to the bill's author which I plan to write.
posted by gryftir at 3:11 PM on July 23, 2019 [3 favorites]

After seeing a social media notice that ICE was spotted in a particular area in town this morning, I walked over to that area to see if I could offer any further information, document/observe/report, or otherwise do what I could. There was nothing to be seen (happily, I hope), though it also occurs to me that I'm not 100% sure what I'm looking for, so now I'm trying to read up on more effective ways of helping to monitor and spread the word about ICE activities in town.

I'm also looking forward to other members' posts, as I honestly don't know what I can be doing right now that would be genuinely helpful.
posted by DingoMutt at 3:34 PM on July 23, 2019 [7 favorites]

I read the entire Mueller Report.
posted by Altomentis at 4:01 PM on July 23, 2019 [5 favorites]

I volunteer with Ragtag, a nonprofit that does tech work for Democratic campaigns and activist orgs. I haven’t been able to spend as much time as I like on that, due to work commitments, but even 1-2 hours a week helps me feel like I’m helping at least a little.

(If you are at all interested in volunteer tech work I suggest you check the group out! I do cybersecurity training but the group also builds campaign websites and other things.)

Otherwise... I give money as much as I can, try to signal boost good groups on social media, and do my best to be kind to people. Including myself, which is hardest. Because falling into despair never helped anyone.
posted by a device for making your enemy change his mind at 4:24 PM on July 23, 2019 [7 favorites]

I'm also looking forward to other members' posts, as I honestly don't know what I can be doing right now that would be genuinely helpful.

One of the things I've done is put my local rapid response line in my phone (check your local immigrant rights org, they probably have something in place), so if I do see something, I can call as soon as possible. Also never again action doesn't care if you're Jewish.

I'm still a little shaken about the incident in my neighborhood where someone intervened, someone else called the rapid response hotline, and the person in question refused to leave the car - so ICE just busted their car's back window and dragged him out before rapid response could arrive. I've donated to the gofundme for his family.

Every single time I see a donate link to Raices, I donate at least 10 - 20 bucks. This has gotten a little expensive, but I can't get myself to care.

I call up Ilhan Omar's office about once a week to let her know I think she's doing a good job.

I'm watching for protests, but the last few have just not worked out for me (and I feel a little guilty about that).

I'm still volunteering as a clinic escort. I went to my first clinic escort social hour last month - it was pretty cool, because while we're often standing near each other, it's a good idea to limit how much you say about yourself in front of the protesters. I found out that one of the protesters tends to tell other female clinic escorts that their mother is disappointed in them, which I kind of find hilarious (she only tells me that actually, abortion is anti-woman and her way is the Real Feminism - apparently I don't look like someone who cares what my mother thinks?).
posted by dinty_moore at 5:34 PM on July 23, 2019 [12 favorites]

I'm volunteering at the ACLU of Maine 6-8hrs weekly now. I feel that all of my concerns end up as battles they fight, so it keeps my efforts/anxieties focused. Even if I'm just doing random small things, that frees up staffer time to work on big stuff.

I'm going to look for our local rapid response line, thanks for that suggestion. Portland has a huge immigrant population and we've seen ICE on local intercity bus and train lines a lot.
posted by donnagirl at 7:49 PM on July 23, 2019 [5 favorites]

I've had some involvement with Seniors Climate Action Network (SCAN) - which despite their name has many very active young people. They were active in the recent Foulden Maar demonstration which has led to one of the worst players in Oz\NZ industry going bankrupt - Yay! And keeping 100M+ tons of carbon in the ground.

There's a huge amount of legislation moving through at the moment (in my area of expertise about 300 pieces) and while each one is open to public submission this kind of democracy is very time-consuming and most of the pols just ignore it* . But sometimes it works, so I made recent subs supporting the Zero Carbon Bill and trying to stop Queenstown Lakes Council allowing itself to pollute the lake which is its golden goose. Sorry for the pics of all the right-wingers but this article gives an idea of who and what we're up against here - I never thought I'd agree with Michael Laws but there's usually a first time for most things.

A growing problem is the pols weakening wording and ensuring this enters the common language so Best Management Practices are now more often 'Good Management Practices', which in my book is a C- pass, whereas 'Best' is the most superior solution that can be made - that was a product of the F-ing right-wingers but it's also now part of the language ... and expectations.

And it's another unseasonally warm winter in NZ, a lot of fog, almost no snow, very little rain. Summer was like it too which meant that fields looked green, but if you dug down it was dust at 4 inches.

* I did a spoken submission to Queenstown Lakes a few years back (on integrated three-waters planning) and six Councillors deliberately stared at the ceiling while I spoke, another five dozed off and only one listened and asked questions.
posted by unearthed at 8:32 PM on July 23, 2019 [4 favorites]

Keeping my mouth shut and my feet still so, hopefully, DHS lets me become a citizen next year.
(More like inactivism, amirite?)
posted by The Toad at 8:53 PM on July 23, 2019 [5 favorites]

I'm hosting letter-writing events with votefwd.org. The letters encourage not-yet-registered prospective voters in key states to get registered. There's some investment of $$ for printing and postage, but mainly just time to write, fold, stuff, and mail letters. Vote Forward is amazingly organized and they make the process super simple. You can also do it from home, no need to wait for an event near you!
posted by last_fall at 9:01 PM on July 23, 2019 [7 favorites]

I am running for City Council. I also attended a Lights for Liberty vigil against the U.S. concentration camps on July 12.
posted by NotLost at 9:09 PM on July 23, 2019 [12 favorites]

I've been making modest donations to Warren and to Raices, and now to Harris too-- sometimes in response to appeals and sometimes after reading something awful and feeling the need to fight back in some way.

My partner and I are still putting the majority of our giving budget into the Mahone Fund, which awards scholarships to students in the Kenosha, WI area. Their August event is something I look forward to all year. You can look around that park and feel like things are going to be all right. This year I'll probably feel sad, sort of like on the Fourth of July when I kept thinking, "What exactly are we celebrating?"
posted by BibiRose at 9:48 PM on July 23, 2019 [3 favorites]

I would really like a version of this thread for those of us outside the US (I know we can all join in!) because I have the same feeling of wanting to do *something*.
posted by mippy at 4:27 AM on July 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

mippy, yeah, I intend for this to be open to everyone, not just in the US, but I understand if an explicitly "outside the US" thread might be more inviting. I've used up my MeTa quota for the week, but you or someone else would be welcome to create a new post!
posted by sugar and confetti at 5:06 AM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

As for myself: I went through a months-long, self-imposed hibernation where I was doing very little in the way of political action. I'm coming out of it now. Went to clinic escort training, and going out for my first shift this weekend. Did a little civil disobedience in the Senate last Thursday (with my 71 year old dad!) and I'm trying to find folks within my church who are interested in doing future civil disobedience actions around immigration issues. I'm headed to an event this Sunday for Mckayla Wilkes, a primary challenger to Steny Hoyer.

Other than that, I'm trying to teach myself to do wheatpasting, for reasons.
posted by sugar and confetti at 5:09 AM on July 24, 2019 [7 favorites]

Recently joined Supermajority, a new women's progressive action org led by Ai-Jen Poo and Alicia Garza of the National Domestic Worker's Alliance and Cecile Richards, formerly of Planned Parenthood. So many orgs. Hard to know which are "best" or most useful, or if all the splitting up of energies is counterproductive? Ugh, I don't know.

Going to an official Elizabeth Warren organizational meeting on Thursday, though I am not going to be downloading the app they suggested because phone and door knocking activities are not (currently) my thing. That could change. Hoping there will be other options like letter writing.

Meanwhile back in June a friend and I decided to put on an online auction in support of abortion rights (posted in projects), which will happen in September. That has gone slightly backburner as the concentration camp horrors have spread. Isn't that crazy? Roe is under threat but it is only one of so MANY truly hideous threats to all of us, but most especially the most vulnerable and powerless of us.

Such a good idea upthread to call Rep. Omar (and others) to give them support. I'm going to make a list of my favorite current reps and Senators and do that. Maybe write letters, but definitely show support.
posted by Glinn at 8:49 AM on July 24, 2019 [6 favorites]

I was going to stick this in the mutual aid thread, but let me once again encourage you to get involved with your local prison book program! Here's a list of US (and a couple Canadian and British) projects, most of which operate on similar volunteer/collective models. Access to books, information, and educational resources for people incarcerated in the U.S. is under constant attack, as shown by assorted state-level attempts to restrict the work of these programs. I'd particularly recommend this option to anyone who a) wants to become more engaged/active/informed on criminal justice issues and the prison abolition movement, and b) anyone who's looking for small, concrete, personal things to do amid the broader garbage fire. I've come to feel that replying to a single book request is a more useful and meaningful form of political action than writing my congressperson these days, although I still do the latter as well.

Also if you're in the Seattle area, Books to Prisoners is still urgently looking for a new home, and will need volunteers and carpenters to help with the move in September.
posted by karayel at 9:31 AM on July 24, 2019 [7 favorites]

Work-related stuff, mostly. I am trying to turn our county mental health system around, which means both financial sustainability (so that we can stick around!) and good care (so that we can help people!). I added a booklet on Recovery-Oriented Language to our new-employee welcome packet, which talks about using respectful, nonjudgmental, and collaborative language with and about people diagnosed with mental illness, and in my trainings with staff I have started emphasizing that a big part of our job is advocating for our clients in the community, teaching non-county providers how to work appropriately and respectfully with community members with severe mental illness, and basically working to get rid of stigma and prejudice wherever they encounter it, within our organization or without. I am also trying to de-binary our policies, procedures, forms, and manuals (e.g., using "they" instead of "he/she"). I want the mental-health system to stop traumatizing clients, and I think the only way to really do that is to be open and honest about how the mental-health system traumatizes clients and then committing to doing better. I am also doing whatever I can to be a resource and inspiration (rather than a scold) for our frontline staff so that they feel supported and thus less likely to burn out and less likely to take out their frustrations on clients.

And Ive been calling national and local electeds about the detention camps (there is a push in my county right now for the county to divest from banks funding the camps). And I am trying to publicize the land protectors at Mauna Kea, just amplify their voices and raise awareness. And to push back in strategic ways against everyday white supremacy and cisheteropatriarchy. (I have an ongoing campaign to get the local papers to stop using "a homeless" as a noun, for example, which seems to be pushing the needle a bit for the article writers, not so much for the headline writers.) I pray every day for the ability and wisdom to bring more peace, justice, and equity into the world, and I try to pay attention and take advantages of any opportunity to do so, while also working from a place of humility so that I am not unthinkingly crashing into people and issues with my privilege and ignorance.
posted by lazuli at 10:06 AM on July 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

Oh, and the National Bail Out collective! I try to donate money when I can and publicize their campaigns to free Black mamas!
posted by lazuli at 10:07 AM on July 24, 2019 [5 favorites]

lazuli, if you want me to start emailing your paper's editorial page every time they run with "x homeless" in the headline, hit me up :-)
posted by sugar and confetti at 10:16 AM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

sugar and confetti, thanks! Right now I am doing a low-level thing where I just respectfully point out that it is disrespectful in the comments of the paper’s Facebook feed, which (joy of living in a fairly small town) usually results in an apology from the editor and a change in the article (at least the online version). The last time they told me their style guide actually does say not to use it.

Given that our county has a major housing shortage with the attendant issues of homelessness, there are a lot of articles and a lot of housing policy issues being debated and it pains me to see people dehumanized like that, because their survival may very well depend on how the local community views them and how much we are willing to invest in housing them. So, my various "Oops, looks like you missed a noun in paragraph two! Should be 'a homeless person,' not 'a homeless.' Reads pretty dehumanizing that way. Thanks for fixing it!" comments (which often then get Likes) serve, I hope, to remind the community of commenters that we are talking about people, too.

I went to a training on peer-run mental health services, and one of the presenters said something like, "I used to walk around railing about how the world was a shitty dirty place every time I saw garbage on the street. Then I realized I could pick up the garbage and make the world less dirty." So this is my current litter-abatement campaign.
posted by lazuli at 10:29 AM on July 24, 2019 [5 favorites]

Aaaaand I just got called out by the Rapid Response team, so I am sweeping for ICE, though it looks like a false report. Currently in a parking lot waiting for an all-clear.
posted by lazuli at 12:45 PM on July 24, 2019 [7 favorites]

Just donated to Rep. Omar. Since we’re stuck in chickenpox quarantine for a week, I’ll also go back to writing postcards with Postcards To Voters.
Thanks for being here, guys.
posted by The Toad at 1:47 PM on July 24, 2019 [4 favorites]

My big project is producing a civics and current affairs radio show with the League of Women Voters. It's been a slow and complicated process getting it on the air, but I'm officially in production now and have even recorded some studio interviews. The goal for the show is voter education: informing people so that they (we!) can participate fully in our democracy as voters/constituents/officials and can effectively advocate for themselves (ourselves!) and others.
posted by rue72 at 2:12 PM on July 24, 2019 [6 favorites]

It was a false alarm. All clear!
posted by lazuli at 2:41 PM on July 24, 2019 [7 favorites]

I donated to TJ Cox, Cal's district 21 rep, who will face Valadao again this next run. I will support whoever runs against McCarthy in district 23. Gonna find something else constructive to do for my candidates.
posted by Oyéah at 3:32 PM on July 24, 2019 [3 favorites]

I think I mentioned this in another thread someplace, but I also created this little flier with information about elected representatives at all levels of government for my community. Been putting it up at bus stops and community bulletin boards in the area.
posted by sugar and confetti at 4:33 PM on July 24, 2019 [5 favorites]

Hey, last_fall, your comment was what I needed to prompt me to get around to actually starting to implement my plan to entice a social network of mine to group events doing useful things rather than waiting for 2020, as voteforward is doing letters now for voter registration, so thanks.
posted by praemunire at 9:36 PM on July 24, 2019 [5 favorites]

sugar and confetti, I just wanted to say that I love your project of putting contact info for local electeds up in accessible places, and I'm considering how and when to do the same. Thank you!
posted by lazuli at 11:02 PM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I put my first one of those together when I was living in Rockville, MD and came to find most of my neighbors didn't know who their electeds were, how to contact them, when they meet, etc. Just a little info to meet people wherever they are and a little nudge to encourage them to engage a little more than they currently do.
posted by sugar and confetti at 6:19 AM on July 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

I regularly bicycle or walk more miles than I drive; and the yard is in a no-mow state of natural Colorado.
Haven't done any Johnny Appleseed tree planting (via burying fruit seeds while out and about), but I do frequently toss a handful of fertilizer around some of the arbolery in the area. Actually; I'll take pounds and pounds of it to the mountains when I have the time to do so.
This does cause severe quirks among some; but that being said; with a current drought, and not a lot of 'feed' in our sand/rock/not much organic material 'soil' here; most forest ranger types do admit they don't do more 'feeding' of the flora due to budget constraints.

Neither fights the power too much; but both have done longitudinal well.
posted by Afghan Stan at 6:45 AM on July 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

To help America get out of this mess, I have voted locally, spent less time on social media, helped fund Buttigieg and Warren (to fight the vicious homophobic and sexist smear tactics against them, which are couched falsely by people on both the left and right as something else), contributed to RAICES, Ingersoll Center, Trans Lifeline, and Planned Parenthood, and I have generally started side-eyeing and basically questioning the fundamental motives and intents of pseudo-leftists in my life and online, people who support the Democratic Party, while their actions plainly help further Trump and the GOP and their plainly obvious fascist agenda.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:02 PM on July 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

You guys, wow. The Barnstorm organizational meeting I went to last night for Elizabeth Warren had an amazing turnout in Evanston, IL. I am terrible at guessing numbers but for sure 100+, and our local celeb Daniel Biss gave a great speech (was a state rep, ran for governor, lives in Evanston).

Warren has great people working on her campaign, and they are serious. We are using the apps MiniVan and Reach for canvassing. Minivan is specifically for door-to-door but Reach can basically be used if you're out anywhere (farmer's market, grocery store, etc) and run into someone interested in the candidate, you can look them up to make sure they are registered to vote (in Georgia as an example with so many purged voters, lots of people don't even know they are not registered), and get other information to the campaign. (Both apps use the DNC database of voters.) I get the impression her security/tech team is top notch, thank goodness.

To sum up, it was inspiring and hopeful. Go to something like it if you can! You can do as much or as little as you want to do. I am not sure I want to do door knocking but I am still glad I went.
posted by Glinn at 7:48 AM on July 26, 2019 [7 favorites]

That's amazing, Glinn, and I may yet check out a local Warren event--out of curiosity for the crowd size and demographics, if nothing else!

oh oh and and

If any of y'all live in the DC region and are interested, I do an occasional fundraiser for various Left causes: I make and sell ice cream in very small batches, usually in support of solidarity / support funds (DACA application fees, community bail funds, that sort of thing). Anyway, I've just made the first batch in a while. It's a strawberry sherbet with a touch of Jamaican allspice, and sales will support legal fees and other family support for a family in Arlington, VA who were the recent target of an ICE raid. If you live in the area and are interested in getting on my email list, hit me up. (Also sometimes I make vegan flavors. But not this time, sorry.)
posted by sugar and confetti at 9:13 AM on July 26, 2019 [7 favorites]

except um I just sent out the email and it's going REALLY fast you guys
posted by sugar and confetti at 9:25 AM on July 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

I've joined one of the Jewish groups in the area working on closing the camps alongside immigration groups. There are a few. Working on next steps.
posted by Sophie1 at 11:23 AM on July 26, 2019 [4 favorites]

(I needed this thread so much! Thank you all!)
I've definitely reached the point (again, as I did last summer) where I can't read any more bullshit on the internet. For me, Action Kills Fear, and I've been experiencing a lot of fear and anxiety for the future, both distant and near. So I went to the kick-off Warren barnstorm event here in Los Angeles this past Thursday: Glinn's description of the Evanston, Il event could also describe the L.A. event, except with 400+ people. It was a very enthusiastic crowd (to put it mildly). Maybe 3/4 were previous volunteer canvassers/campaigners (by show of hands). I'm going to a +Warren Debate Watch Party next. Then I suppose it's door-knocking time. And postcards to voters and letters to the unregistered D-leaners (thanks to last_fall for shining a light on that! Sounds like a *great* idea that's had good effect. I like writing to strangers, so I'm in! :D)
Speaking of donations: big thanks to everyone posting about their local races (congress, senate). If you've got a decent candidate and they have a web site where they're willing to commit to at least a handful of progressive values, I will click the Donate button and send them $20.
Oyéah's comments about Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) reminded me of Tatiana Matta (D candidate who opposed KMac in 2018 midterms)... and looking at the fundraising numbers I'm kind of flabbergasted by how *little* money she received, like $100K vs Kevin's $8Million. Not sure how our collective attention and the ActBlue donations firehose missed that race, but I suspect the outcome would have been much better if she'd had anything like an equal amount of money to work with.
I almost sent a donation to Mark Kelley's campaign for Senate (AZ), but then looked at his fundraising numbers and quickly backed off. He's doing *fine*. I will send that $20 to someone who needs it more.
Donations other than political candidates: RAICES Texas, Justice Democrats, ACLU, ProPublica.
Protests and marches: I've been to so many. TBH I'm unsure of their effectiveness. It helps me to see other people with same/similar goals and ideals gathered together. I think the pre-planned far-in-advance marches are more effective and better attended (think Women's March), the smaller quick-reaction protests ... not sure what the point of having 50 people show up is... it feels like I've been tricked into wasting my time and energy? Having said that, I'm totally open to taking to the streets for a nationwide general strike. Somebody organize that! :D
posted by ButteryMales at 11:46 AM on July 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

I am also in Team Action Kills Fear and starting back writing Postcards to Voters. Resource tips for frugal postcard writers: I had a local independent copyshop cut a ream of blank cardstock into 4 blank postcards per page of cardstock, resulting in blank postcards for about a penny a piece. I also bought rubber stamps from RubberHedgehog.com (search for vote) and am making my own postcards. The USPS sells "Forever" postcard stamps, so that even if postcard postage increases you can use the Forever stamp to mail a postcard without extra postage.
posted by jointhedance at 11:02 AM on July 29, 2019 [2 favorites]

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