March 11, 2017

How to really power your actions

Welcome! It's a long game and the resistance needs all of you.

Fantastic resources abound that highlight and simplify our most important daily actions. This email is to help you stay energized and sane because we're in it for the duration.
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R3 for week 7 ending March 10, 2017

Revel (something celebratory from the past week :: to maintain a sense of accomplishment and gratitude)

Let’s recognize successes whenever we can.

No to racial discrimination
The Supreme Court opposes racial discrimination within juries. Now previously private jury deliberations can be made known to the court when racial bias is evident.

No to anti-semitism
Good to see the Senate as a rare united front.

Yes to women's health
Just after taking office, 45 cut funding to international organizations that provide or inform about abortion within their scope of family planning and contraception. This has the potential to severely impact global health even beyond women directly impacted. Without contraception tens of millions of women resort to unsafe abortion attempts each year, a leading cause of maternal death worldwide. Communities suffer because of it.

“The best way to celebrate women around the world is by investing in their tomorrows.” --Melinda Gates

The very next day the Netherlands initiated a global fundraising effort to fill the void. At an international conference held last week in response to the crisis, Canada contributed $20 million. The group "She Decides" has now raised over $200 million.

Yes to artful protest and mindful pauses
What are you missing as you move through your day? This is protest art as well as a poke in the mindful muscle.

"The first [billboard] might go by, although you notice that it's not shouting at you to buy something. I think by the second one you're paying more attention. By the third, you're hopefully noticing that alignment." --artist Jennifer Bolande

And this
There’s no reason to continue to debate 45’s inauguration attendance, but it counts as a Revel when the government is forced to admit it. A freedom of information request by several media outlets forced the national parks service to release the full photos. (Via Vox)


Reflect (something big picture to ponder :: to keep our eyes on the prize and remember why we resist)

While we continue to #resist, it’s important to bring direction to the movement. This Administration, guided only by fear, hatred and greed, submits much for us to actively oppose. But we need to attend to the future to reshape it in the wake of so much destruction. The hate-driven policies will serve only to generate more hate, fostering terrorism and anti-American sentiment. The dismantling of government services and structures will cause chaos and confusion.

"Liberty flourishes only when citizens take responsibility, by whatever means are available, for guiding their nation to a better future. When government is no longer willing to foster a humane, constructive process that reflects the will of the people, the surest route to building that better future is through peaceful protest." --Ira Chernus, Professor and author

There are questions to ask and discuss and Reflect on... How can a movement shift from being reactionary to becoming a force of its own? What is its next escalation?

This huge, active Resistance continues to prove the impact of mobilizations in raising the importance and visibility of certain issues to those far beyond the streets. Large committed groups advocating and voting can change others’ perceptions, and quite often, changing understanding leads to changing laws. Airport protests did get judges’ attention.

“Liberty ultimately lies in us. We are the ultimate guardians.” --David Cole, ACLU National Legal Director

But how does it become more than a counter-force? This is particularly unclear under what is increasingly fascist governance. Widespread collective calls to action have impacted Congress, forcing them to change how they’ve acted in some cases. Changing behavior beyond the Democrats is the goal, so what can make it happen?

The Resistance is currently running ahead of the Democratic Party in visibility and scope of activity, and has been quite distinct from the party mainstream. It’s the source of energy but not yet the source of policy. Engaging the grassroots hasn’t been a party priority, but it will have to be to survive the current crisis.

Will the Democratic Party embrace the Resistance in a way that galvanizes the work already having impact? The party’s unpopularity among its own base has become crippling. Being essentially driven now by progressive-leaning individuals, the party is in a position to finally make changes. It risks losing too many vital voices and can no longer succeed by fracturing or by ignoring its large factions. Change may not be straightforward:

“As a general rule the Democratic Party doesn’t listen well and struggles to hear the truth about itself.” --Shaun King

The logical next step is to expand from activism to organizing. The Resistance is on it. Protests are translating into meeting, organizing, recruiting and initiating local actions even without party involvement or oversight. People who have never before considered it are committing to run for office. This is important: candidates must be elected in place of conservatives. It's a long game.

What else is needed? A unifying platform and voter engagement. The Democratic Party must find a way to maintain its core ideals while focusing on systemic racism and unsustainable economic inequality. The latter key issue underpins everything and affects everyone. The party must reassess its relationship with wealthy donors and confront its issues around elitism, Wall Street and corporate America. No easy tasks.

Economic ideas are not scarce. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has just laid out a set of strategies to “restore the value of work." And Robert Reich speaks to growing our productive capacity as a means to increase US workforce competitiveness. These types of policies deserve attention.

We know that 92 million eligible voters did not vote. Attracting these voters across the political spectrum is an obvious priority, along with seeking out those who voted Independent and those who regret their Republican vote. A platform of possibility may engage these many people the party has failed to address, but it will require both action and convincing communications. A voter engagement strategy is taking shape, that seems to integrate progressives and the party

Finally, the radical right / alt-right / white nationalists should not be ignored. What are effective ways to defuse them?

Some people don’t believe successful resistance is even possible within the confines of a neoliberal and/or fascist regime. Maybe it is too early to make that call given the unprecedented scale of this opposition.

So we #resist. But instead of become singularly focused on reacting, we need to remember why we are doing this, what is important, and figure out how to protect and regain those things. We have to get ahead of the Administration. We need another hashtag.

Recharge (a technique to help you energize and focus for the week ahead :: "self care" and creative resistance

The sheer amount of information coming at us can lead to overload. It's difficult to keep making sense of it all, much less process it to effectively respond. Without some structure we end up reacting in scattered bursts. This can distract from what truly needs our attention.

In addition to strengthening focus and attention, it helps to find clarity. Being clear on what to do and why to do it fuels our ability to continue. Creating a framework around these things we choose to do helps us do them even when we feel overwhelmed. Stress affects decision making, problem solving, and getting things done. A plan can bolster discipline when we need it most.

Figure out your Why (this can always change!)
We’re fighting a lot of policies and issues. Maybe too many for each of us to carry. Would it help to each focus on a few issues we personally deem critical?

TO DO: Reflect on what’s most important to you in the context of this Administration and identify the few issues you are most passionate about.

WHY: Neuroscientists have found that we gain satisfaction more from the act of seeking (our “why”) than in final accomplishments. Figuring out where within this resistance our passions lie can make the experience more rewarding, as targeted work will reflect our own values. This can give momentum to persist.

Figure out what specific actions to take (this can change too!)
A wide array of options exist: making phone calls, writing letters/postcards, attending meetings, sharing information to educate, organizing events and people, attending protests, creating protest art, graphics or technology tools, coming up with totally unique forms of activism...

TO DO: Decide what types of these you prefer doing. You choose! Take advantage of your strengths and skills. If you feel a lot of resistance about doing a particular type of work, try another.

WHY: We are faced with so many requested actions every day. It helps to set ourselves a direction in advance. Experimenting is fine, as is passing some by. This is about balancing your time and work and managing your stress level.

Figure out how much time to spend
TO DO: How much time can you regularly spend per week? Consider whether your current activity level is overflowing into other areas of your life. If you’re feeling more tired or stressed than at your best, adjust this time commitment. It is important, and that's why we need to be as effective as possible on an ongoing basis.

Break this down a bit more:
How many and which days per week are best for you to take action?
How many minutes or hours can devote at any one time?
What is the best time of day for you to do the types of things you chose?
Now figure out how many and which chosen tasks to target in a week, based on your total time and an estimate of how long each task may take.

WHY: These questions seem tedious, but simplifying your activism will help you to avoid burnout.

Create a structure to facilitate your activism.
Being intentional about what we do can help us avoid becoming overwhelmed while also strengthening focus. Planning may feel like an unnecessary step - and it may be for some. In general, though, building tasks into a weekly structure simplifies.

“Discipline is freedom.”

TO DO: Translate your goals and actions into specific actionable tasks. You should be able to simply do these without further planning.

WHY: When we do become overwhelmed, having a plan to fall back on leads us to continue the necessary work. Completing tasks we’ve intentionally chosen to do can fuel our energy.

Schedule activism tasks onto your calendar
TO DO: Block them in. Give a realistic and even generous amount of time for your actions. Then if you’re off it will be in favor of a few minutes of free time. Schedule things at times you know are best in light of your own daily fluctuating energy levels. Make it easy by including necessary information (phone #s, addresses). Keeping a separate task list lets you add as needed and use during "found" time, without overstuffing your schedule.

Use only the total time you’ve allotted for this, but stay flexible about changing any of this. This shouldn’t become another source of stress.

WHY: This process reduces the number of small decisions we must make, freeing our minds a little more during the day.

Finally, include mental rests and self-care
TO DO: Schedule times for things you enjoy and find rejuvenating: reading, thinking, creating, meditation, exercise, nature, pampering. Allowing for both active (physical) and passive (slowing down) forms of renewal is most effective.

Also build in buffer time when shifting activities to something where you’ll need to focus. Allow for a 3 minute breathing exercise to calm and center. Or to step outside for 5 minutes (or even gaze out the window).

WHY: Mental recovery helps in sustaining energy, and lets us reconnect to our inspirational values. Mental diversions like social media and gaming do not provide this type of release so don’t always default to them. Seek stillness.

Repeat weekly.
Review your "why" regularly.

Don’t overplan.
Be flexible.
Thank you for Resisting.

Taking the time for this turns organizing to keep on track into a sort of ritual, reminding us that what we do is important. By elevating the everyday, rituals help us value activities more and find them more rewarding.
And this can reinforce clarity.

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