Activism Made Easy

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Until recently, the majority of my political activism consisted of signing petitions. Since the recent election, I realized it’s going to take a lot more than just signing petitions to protect the people in this country, along with the earth and its flora and fauna. When I first started to increase my civic duties, I was at times overwhelmed. I had this idea that I would do something once every weekday or once a week. I soon realized that would not work for me. It’s far more intuitive to follow my fire. In other words, there are some days when I am eager to make change, sending out dozens of emails, making calls or doing research. Other days I barely even want to log on to my computer. And that’s ok. I just do what I can when I am able and give myself permission to rest.

If you are interested in taking action, I’ve got some suggestions to help you. Then once you are all set up, it will be easy for you to spring in to action when a problematic situation (such as a Congressional bill you adamantly oppose) arises.

Get Organized

  1. Create a text file or spreadsheet with the names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of all the people you might find yourself contacting. That way you won’t have to go hunting for them every time you want to convey your thoughts. Some people you may want to include on your list: The President of the USA, your two Senators and one Representative in the US Congress, your Senator and Reps in your state legislature, the Governor of your state, Mayor of your town, members of City Council, and members of the School Board.
  2. Add these individuals to your email address book. Put email addresses of groups you contact into a group contact list in your email (Gmail lets you do this)…that way when you want to contact every member of the School Board at once, for example, you can just type in School Board and everyone’s email address pops up.
  3. If you anticipate making a lot of phone calls, add the phone numbers to your phone address book.
  4. Keep a log of every contact you make, so you know what you’ve done. This will help when months or weeks from now you can’t remember if you contacted so and so about such and such, and what you said to them. You can also use this file to put in notes for future actions you want to take but aren’t ready to do so yet.
  5. If you aren’t currently involved in any activism groups, sign up for a group or list that will give you action items to do. Some examples are Dumbledore’s Army and My Civic Workout.
  6. I’ve also found it helpful to create an activism folder on my computer Desktop that contains subfolders for issues I’m interested in working on. That way if I want to save an article or save the link to the bill, I can have everything together. On a Mac you can save a link from your web browser just by grabbing the icon to the left of the URL and dragging it to the Desktop or to another folder.

Writing Letters and Emails

Never written a letter to an elected official, or need a refresher? Here’s a brief video describing the process of writing a letter to an elected official, specifically handwritten ones. You can also check out this more in depth article. If you request a response from the official, please know that you will receive a pretty generic form letter geared toward the general topic you’ve written about.

Making Phone Calls

Since attending meetings, marches and rallies are usually a bit of a hardship for me for various reasons, I decided to push my comfort zone in a new way: making phone calls. I’ve been inspired to conquer my fears about making calls, because I’ve learned it is more effective than letters or emails, which are hardly read, according to this former staffer.

Here’s what you do to make a call:

  1. Prepare what you want to say in advance so you have a script to fall back on when you freeze up.
  2. Whether you get voice mail or an actual live human on the line, be polite, brief and to the point.
  3. If you are a constituent of that elected official, let them know, because they care whether you are a voter who has the power to help vote them in or out of office.
  4. Thank them for their time.

I hope this helps inspire you!

 

Funding Education in WA state

Even if you don’t have kids in public schools, you probably know that the future is in the hands of young people, and want those young people to be prepared by having a good education. Here’s a couple of concrete things you can do to help.

Action Item #1:
Governor Jay Inslee has released his 2017-19 budget and it aims to fully fund our schools, which should be of special interest to WA state parents, who have perhaps, like me, grown tired of having to vote for tax levies and chip in to PTA fundraisers so that our school kids have what they need.
 
His plan actually manages to reduce property taxes in 119 districts, because we’d no longer have to keep voting to use property taxes to fund schools. According to Seattle Times: “In the Seattle School District the local property-tax bill would drop an average of $262 per taxpayer in the 2018-19 school year, while taxes in the Bellevue School District would drop an average of $297, according to the governor’s office.”  
 
The new taxes he invokes are things like a carbon tax and capital gains tax, which we should have in place any way, in my opinion.
 
Please write to your legislators and ask them to support Gov. Jay Inslee’s budget, which will fully fund basic education in WA state. 
 
 
 

Action Item #2:
Additionally, we need to ask legislators to vote to extend the levy cliff as soon as they get in session, because if education isn’t fully funded in our state by April 15, 2017, schools across the state face a major shortfall.
 
I was at a Budget meeting Tuesday night and they are already preparing for the worst. Cuts will be felt across all districts and all areas. Its especially important to ask your GOP legislators (if you have any) to extend the levy cliff, because from what Senator Reuven Carlyle said last night, the GOP controlled state Senate last year refused to do this, because they wanted to force the issue by having the school system break down completely. The stakes are higher this year, as a $74 million shortfall is projected when a balloon payment on taxes is due April 15, 2017.

You can write your legislators and ask them to extend the levy cliff, or print postcards from a link at the bottom of this page.

30 Days of New Foods: Day 5: Soursop Juice

It’s best not to read the ingredients before trying a new food, or in this case, drink.

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Pour it into a glass to see what you are dealing with.

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Looks like…Eew.

Taste it. Hmm. Tastes like guava. Finished the glass, felt sick a couple hours later, though that could have been from something else.

What exactly is a soursop? It’s the fruit of the Annona muricata tree. Good to know!

Don’t get stuck in your thinking

A few weeks ago I posted something about chronic pain and recently I realized that the same lesson could be applied to other areas as well. The revelation occurred to me when I was reading an article from the Southern Poverty Law Center about hate groups. I realized that in the past, I too, had occasionally had unpleasant encounters with people of different races. The difference between me and people who go onto become passionate in their hate for others is that I didn’t allow those negative experiences to entrench themselves in my mind. I just let them go. It seems that people actively involved in Hate really cling to their negative experiences, replay them in their minds, discuss them with like-minded people who reinforce their views, and thus cement their experiences as if they are truth.

As this video below shows, it can be challenging to take the leap to learning something new, but any thought path taken again and again will become easier and easier to follow. In this way, our thinking about certain topics, people, and experiences can become habitual. Some times that’s a good thing, like when we need to train ourselves to overcome a fear of public speaking, for example. Other times, it just leads to trouble, like when we convince ourselves through repeated thought patterns that someone or something is causing us pain or trouble, when there’s little or no factual basis for that assumption.

 

 

Because I like to up-end my own thinking when I can, this idea led me to ask myself what types of thinking are habitual for me, and how can I break of the limitations those habits impose on my ability to understand and learn new things? How can I become more flexible in my thinking? This is a work in progress.