Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Wolf's Guide to Activism

Sooo. I'm dead broke right now. And my laundry list of things I want to do and things I need to do that aren't getting done is starting to get to me. I need to do... something (before I lose my mind). So I'm revisiting an old idea.

The Wolf's Guide To Activism

Even if I can't "be a part of the resistance" right now maybe somebody else will read this and get an idea or two.  Here goes.  Before I start though here are a few other places you might consider to look for ideas.

Places to Go to For Advice
Contact Your Local Representatives
In the aftermath of the 2016 election Dan Olson used his web series Folding Ideas to provide a guide for how to well contact your representatives. I absolutely love this video.

Crash Course U.S. Government
I will talk about this in a moment but a basic understanding of civics is really useful in determining things like.

  • Who do I talk to address a concern I have?
  • How do I contact this person?
  • What type of power do they have to resolve my concerns?
  • What are the limits to their power?
Crash Course U.S. Government and Politics is very useful as well a crash course in civics. 

Second verse same as the first. Here is the thing we live in a democracy and everything both negative and positive is the result of the choices we've made regarding how we organize ourselves as a society. Understanding those choices is incredibly useful. I recommend an understanding in sociology. As with government, I don't think these series are substitutions for a class but they are free relatively easily available. 

As usual here are a few books that I haven't read but are on my list
  • You're More Powerful Than You Think: A Citizen's Guide To Making Change Happen
  • Rules For Revolutionaries: How Big Organizing Can Change Everything
  • Rules For Radicals: A Practical Primer For Realistic Radicals
  • People Power: The Community Organizing Tradition of Saul Alinsky
  • Doing Justice: Congregations and Community Organizing
  • Roots to Power: A Manual For Grassroots Organizing
  • Organizing for Social Change
  • Tools For Radical Democracy: How to Organize for Power in Your Community
  • Building Powerful Community Organizations: A Personal Guide to Creating Groups that Can Solve Problems and Change the World
Pay Attention and Be Informed
It's by far the simplest thing to do and is the first step towards action. Pay attention. Stay abreast of what's going on regardless of whether it's local, nationally or even internationally.  Most politicians want to solve problems so something is almost always happening being aware of this is the first step towards attempting to move policy. 
Eghhh nobody wants to be the guy who showed up the day after the State legislature held the vote. 

Here are some ways to stay informed
  • Go to council and board meetings
  • Go to town halls
  • Pay attention to the media
  • Read meeting minutes and packets
  • Visit the websites of officials and candidates for information
  • Call officials and candidates for information
  • Listen to conversations in common areas (public transit, bars, restaurants, stores, parks) you know people watch. 
If all of that is starting to sound like the outlines of journalism. That's because it is.

And this is the part where I say if you don't support local journalism, which is often the only place you can find certain types of information it will go away. And even if you think something better will replace it that will take a while and in the meantime, a lot will happen. 

Anyway, one of the easiest ways to get politicians to talk to you is to have the information they find useful. That helps them accomplish their policy goals. 

Know Who to Talk To
This goes back to that understanding of civics but with local and state governments that might still require a bit of research especially for niche or obscure issues. Still, the line, "It's your job" is very powerful.  Finding that person who is "responsible" is half the battle.  A few good places to start here are
  • Organizational Departments
  • Legislative Committee
  • Legislative Sponsors
  • Boards

Join a Group
I'm ripping off Dan'O but there is a power in numbers. We live in a democracy and it's easier to sway those in power if you can convince them you are speaking for more than just yourself. Before trying to grow a grassroots movement by on your own see if there is somebody already doing what you want to do and ask them how you can help. Some ideas are
  • Church Groups
  • Community Groups
  • Neighborhood and Homeowner Associations
  • Advocacy Groups
  • Non-Profits
Write and Speak Publically
Again I'm ripping off Dan but politics is all about persuasion. Most politicians are beholden to thier constituents and one of the easiest ways to convince a politician to an action convince their constituents. It's what the people want. 
 A Couple Ways of Doing That Are

Contact Your Local Representative
I would just be ripping off Dan Olson's video so there you go. 

Don't Lie
It speaks for itself. Lying will make you lose all credibility.

Donate or Volunteer
One of the most horrifying things regarding election 2016 is that it represents a massive shift in fiscal priorities. There is just a lot of necessary work that won't get done now. One of the easiest though not the only way to help is to donate and volunteer.  John Oliver provided an excellent list of non-profits in the aftermath of election 2016.  There are also a plethora of local charities and organizations that could use support. 
  • Forgotten Harvest
  • The Michigan Humane Society
  • Boys and Girls Clubs of South Eastern Michigan
  • St. Jude's Children's Hospital

Run for Office
As I said before even if it's a small office with limited power simply being able to say you speak for for people other than just yourself is incredibly powerful and running for office formalizes that. 

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