Indoor Activism

imagesI used to hit the streets, picket sign in hand, on a regular basis, but now I’m more likely to accomplish small but significant acts of activism while I’m at home. Here are some things you can do that DON’T involve being outside!

Call your senators and representatives!!

It is usually not helpful to call senators who don’t represent you, although there are exceptions. Your senator wants your vote, so they are more likely to listen to you. Don’t want to call? Write a letter (handwritten is best). Need something quicker? Send them an email. If they are already supporting the causes you support, thank them – you know they are taking a lot of heat from conservatives in their districts.

Here’s a website that can help you find your senator:

www.senate.gov

And here’s one to find your representative:

www.house.gov

Get reminders.

Having regular reminder to write or call about issues is helpful, especially since the reminders usually come with a lot of information on the topic. I love My Civic Workout, which gives me different topics to call about (and different actions to take) once a week via email. I know a lot of people like getting text notifications from Everytown for Gun SafetyAmnesty International sends out action texts, as well. Just pick and choose your causes, so that you don’t end up getting ten texts and emails a day.

Influence elections from the comfort of your own home (or possibly Russia – BUUUURN)

Most of the time you need to think local, but Postcards to Voters gives me access to voters in other states without being very invasive. I text them as often as I want to and promise to send as many handwritten postcards as I want to, to voters in swing states or districts. It’s something I can manage on my own time and I think (I hope) it makes a big difference in filling government at every level with people who support what I care about. It doesn’t involve calling anyone or knocking on doors. Special bonus – I think my handwriting is improving.

Think Local.

What is happening in your own community? How are your neighbors doing? Think carefully about school board elections and so forth – they have a major effect on what life is like at home. If you are interested in volunteering but don’t know where to start, check out VolunteerMatch.org.

Vote!

 

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Outdoor Activism In Your Town

Midterm elections are coming up and there’s so much to do. Luckily there are so many Unknownways to do it. Whether you are a marcher with tired feet who wants to sit down for a while, or someone with writer’s cramp who wants to get up, or a person completely new to activism, there is something out there that will fit into your schedule and your preferences.

There are so many options that I’m going to split them into different posts. For this one, let’s look at a few of the larger scale marches and events coming up.

“Marching is the new brunch,” they say, and there are some big marches coming up while the weather is (theoretically) good.

Science: The March for Science is happening in Washington D.C. and other cities on April 14.

Gun Control: The next National School Walkout is on April 20. Adults can walk out of their  workplaces in support. This student-led action lasts from 10AM – the end of the school day. The times at your local branch may vary. Info is at the link.

Earth Day:  Earth Day is on April 22. Local events will vary. Some cities do a march, some have a fair, some have a party, and some cram all of those things into a single, noisy event. Here’s a list of some of the events that are happening across the US.

Black Women United: Black Women United is leading a march in Sacramento, California on June 9, 2018. They invite women of all races to march with them.

LGBTQIA: Yay Pride Day! Pride Day in the United States is usually a joyful occasion. The date and events vary from location to location, but most cities have a parade/march that happens in the summer.  This link has a list of national and international events, including parade dates for various cities. If you live in Sacramento, the parade and festival is on June 10.

Just for Fun: Here’s a list of all the marches on Washington, D.C., from 1893 – March 2018.

Poem Time

A young Edna St. Vincent MillayThanks to www.poets.org for reminding me about this lovely poem. It reminds me of my college friends and the road trips we took and the outings we scraped together from pocket change.

Recuerdo

Edna St. Vincent Millay1892 – 1950

  We were very tired, we were very merry—
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
It was bare and bright, and smelled like a stable—
But we looked into a fire, we leaned across a table,
We lay on a hill-top underneath the moon;
And the whistles kept blowing, and the dawn came soon.

We were very tired, we were very merry—
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry;
And you ate an apple, and I ate a pear,
From a dozen of each we had bought somewhere;
And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold,
And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold.

We were very tired, we were very merry,
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
We hailed, “Good morrow, mother!” to a shawl-covered head,
And bought a morning paper, which neither of us read;
And she wept, “God bless you!” for the apples and pears,
And we gave her all our money but our subway fares.

Action Check-In Part II

candles
I write my blog posts ahead of time, and this time around my blog post about taking political action popped up today, when we as a nation are still reeling not only from the terrorist attack in Charlotteville but also from our president’s failure to confront it.

Yesterday I went to a candlelight vigil which turned acrimonious (but remained non-violent) when two liberal groups conflicted over how to address white supremacy. Both groups were against it, but one group wanted to have a vigil with mainstream speakers including, controversially, Sacramento’s current mayor and Assemblyman Jim Cooper, both of whom have a spotty record at best when dealing with Sacramento’s homelessness problem and with police aggression towards black and brown people.

So there we were, with one group waving candles around and listening to the same speeches that we always listen to, and anther group wearing bandanas and yelling at the top of their lungs. It was tense. It was rude. It was somewhat scary especially to those of us there with kids. But a day later, I think the loud group was right, at least in their insistence on pushing for more than candles.

White Supremacy doesn’t rear its ugly head only on occasions when a bunch of poseurs have a march. It happens every day in macro and micro aggressions. If you want to fight white supremacy, then by all means have candlelight vigils – but also raise your voice when Black people are killed by police. Raise your voice on behalf of LGBTQIA people. When mosques and synagogues and Black Churches are burned or defaced call it what it is, which is domestic terrorism. Support tax initiatives that increase access for the disabled. Use your phone, your wallet, and/or your feet to make your support for all marginalized groups known consistently.

Above all, if I’ve learned anything in the last few years, it is the importance of discomfort. Don’t be afraid to confront your own baggage. We can do better.

Summer Poem: Mask by Carl Sandburg

IMG_2291This poem by Carl Sandburg makes me think of all the outdoor festivals – concerts at the parks, music at fairs, giant music festivals and radios playing in beat up cars!

 

Mask, by Carl Sandburg

Fling your red scarf faster and faster, dancer.
It is summer and the sun loves a million green leaves,
masses of green.
Your red scarf flashes across them calling and a-calling.
The silk and flare of it is a great soprano leading a
chorus
Carried along in a rouse of voices reaching for the heart
of the world.
Your toes are singing to meet the song of your arms:

Let the red scarf go swifter.
Summer and the sun command you.

Advice for Scientists from a Fan

1*kwiNY-8vonJm3sIBdwogAwHay fever could not stop this family of a biologist, a kid who is interested in EVERYTHING, and a writer from attending the Sacramento March For Science. It was a wonderful event that I was proud to have participated in.

I lurked on the March for Science Facebook thread on and off as this march was being planned, and Science People, as a friendly layperson, I have Thoughts.

1. Get intersectional.

You are not practicing science in a vacuum. You are practicing a field which does not have a glowing history with women, people with disabilities, people with color, or people who identify as LGBTQIA. Face this history. Educate yourself on it. Stop saying that science should not be political – it is political and it has always been political. Stand up for vulnerable populations with your bodies and your voices, and help both professional and laypeople understand the ethics which should be guiding science today, and what science today teaches us about poverty, racism, sexism, and so forth. This is part of your job.

2. Reach out to the public – nicely.

The world is full of people who don’t know about science. Many of them are not idiots – they just never had a chance to learn. Stop making Bill Nye and Neil DeGrasse  Tyson do all the work! Be confident, be proud of your accomplishments and your knowledge – but don’t be a snob. Maybe you can analyze the genome but you can’t unplug a toilet. We all have our areas of expertise.

3. LEARN.

I know, you are scientists, you are always learning. Learn about things that aren’t in your field – it will make your science more effective.

In the weeks leading up to the march, many worried that being inclusive would be too political. The fact is that not being inclusive is also political. There is no neutral ground, and there never has been – our choices about who is allowed to practice science, how we conduct it, what we fund, and how we interpret and use findings has always been shaped by political and social factors. The findings themselves may be neutral – gravity is real whether I choose to believe in it or not. But the field in which those findings are discovered is not and cannot be a neutral one because we are people who function in a context of other people.

Any scientist, but especially those interested in science advocacy, should have at least a passing familiarity with some of the issues historically and currently that shape the way vulnerable populations might look at the scientific field. For instance, scientists should know something about the history of eugenics and forced sterilizations in the United States of America. They should know about the American history of using African-Americans for scientific research without their knowledge or consent. They should understand at least something about historical efforts to “treat” homosexuality as a mental illness. And of course, scientists of all genders should understand the struggles women face with sexual harassment in STEM fields today.

Understanding social issues makes science better, just as science has the potential to make social issues better. The march was a powerful step (no pun intended). Keep going!