I have said it before, and I have said it again: if going to be on the street is the only activism you value, you’re pretty ableist. While I am glad to have been able to have gone to both the Women’s March and the March for our Lives, I have also not attended many others. There are different reasons not to go, from being physically not able to do so, to actually fearing for your safety.
So, what can you do instead?
1) Keep informed on issues near and dear to your heart. This one goes without saying, but in the current onslaught of everyday craziness, it is important to filter the actual issues. The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America for example, has a section dedicated to advocacy and links on how to take action. Another way to keep informed is the Countable app– an app that not only allows you to contact your representative and Senators, but also to stay informed on the different bills congress is voting on each week.
2) Look at Local Politics: A lot of people feel overwhelmed when they see the news. You can however effect change at a local level- local elections often have far-reaching consequences. Every city lists ways to contacting them, and to give your opinion on proposed changes. In my neck of the woods, I hear a lot of people (including me) complain about all the development in Portland, and how it is forcing out long-time, non-millionaire residents, while homelessness is going rampant. I do however also take the time to let the city know how I feel, and the worries that I have.
3) Find out who your representative is and contact them. Email them, write postcards, call their offices- let them know you exist and have a voice and an opinion. Also, do this even when you’re happy with your representative. Mine is Earl Blumenauer, and I love him to bits, and I regularly write him a little postcard to keep on truckin’.
4) join online groups. I am part of “postcard avalanche”, a facebook group with members all over the country that is writing postcards to politicians. The messages are usually focused on a specific issue. I have also joined “Postcards to voters” a grassroots group that sends little notes of encouragement to registered democrats to show up to local elections. When Conor Lamb won in Pennsylvania, I was pretty stoked, as I had written about 10 postcards for his race.
5) If you can, donate. I personally don’t like to donate to political parties, mostly because the whole election machinery disgusts me. Every time I read how much money is spent in these political races, I get upset, thinking about how many school lunch programs, meals on wheels and other great things could be funded by the money that gets spent on political ads, smear campaigns etc. So, I try to focus on causes that are important to me.
6) Engage online: There is twitter, instagram, facebook and so many other social media platforms, including blogs. No, you don’t need to spend your time engaging with crazy trolls trying to convince you of conspiracy theories, but you can for example, also use it to raise awareness- share articles and comment on why they are important to you. Share fundraisers, and information. Of course, check your sources.
These are just a few ideas, and I am curious to hear other people’s practices. How do you make sure you’re heard?