I’m not sure about you, but I’ve attended about 50 meetings since Trump won the election. We woke up devastated on November 9, but many of us also woke up with the need to DO something. So we read, talked, and met. Today, there are at least four new groups in my town of 30,000 that are meeting on a regular basis to address issues at risk with the Trump agenda — the environment, women’s health, voting rights, and racial justice, among others.
I attended my first meeting (found on Facebook, of course) in the immediate aftermath of the election. I have to admit that, to me, the first meeting was weird. It was in the basement of a sketchy bar. It was cold; I don’t think the walls had sheet rock; but there was so much energy. We all wanted to talk and contribute. As uncomfortable as I was that first meeting, I knew I had something to contribute and that I would be back.
Another group, dubbed the Pantsuit Nation group, gathered to mourn the loss of Hillary Clinton… and the election of Trump. All women at the time, we gathered to be in a place of like-minded women. We wanted a better place for our children. We wanted a country to be proud of. That first meeting was cathartic. People teared up. We shared in ways unique to women and agreed to meet again — and to organize.
Just yesterday, I attended a meeting of a fledgling chapter of NOW. The turnout was amazing and energy was palpable. We even had a State Delegate in attendance.
To act, we organize and to organize we meet; but we can’t go to 5 hours of meeting each week. So how do we decide which groups to focus on? Because in addition to those three groups, there was recently a Huddle, thanks to the Women’s March. And, we can’t forget the importance of being involved with Democratic institutions — such as the county Party (stay tuned for a post on this) and a Young Democrat group (though I recently aged out of that one…). To make the change so many of us want, we need institutional involvement.
This post is as much of a personal interrogation as an answer — and I want to hear your answers as well (send to firstname.lastname@example.org, or fill out the form below). We will all find our own path to activism.
But those who know me well know a couple of things about me. First, I am a problem solver — I’m pragmatic. Second, I can have a type-A personality. I say “can have” because I wouldn’t say it defines me (though some may disagree), but it is a characteristic. So I can’t attend all of the meetings, I like to lead, and I like to get things done. Here’s where that’s gotten me.
The group that I’ve most gravitated to is one that was previously established, called Mountaineers for Progress. It was not around much before the election, but that brief history gives it a structure (legal and practical — like using Robert’s rules) and membership to build on. We also have an amazing membership that is planning events and harnessing progressive energy toward several initiatives around town. I am now the Vice President of that group.
I still love the energy and enthusiasm of the women’s group. Part of our strength is our numbers — online and in person. And we can harness that energy. In ways, it has been slower to get off the ground, but members are organizing a sister March for Science, starting a Super PAC, and organizing moments of activism. I am still an active Facebook member and am involved in several committees.
What about the other groups? We can’t be everywhere, but we also must be sure we are coordinating our actions among diverse and like-minded groups — especially those in one geographical area. For me right now, that means an extra meeting or two. It certainly requires more Facebook groups and emails. Fortunately, it also has enabled me to meet professional organizers whose organizational heft and resources often lead the way. We don’t have to do it all — or do it alone — because amazing people and groups are doing it too. As just one outgrowth of this effort, we have had terrific turnouts to weekly rallys to encourage our Senator to hold a town hall (lots of former posts about this!).
In the long term, I believe I can keep up this pace. For now, Trump’s horrifying behavior and policies keep me going. And so do friends. As an odd outgrowth of this terrible time is friendship. New friends, old friendships rekindled. and a supportive family. Because to keep acting and organizing, we need support.
I encourage us all to get and to stay involved. Go to your first meeting, as uncomfortable as it may be. Volunteer for a committee. For your #FiveMinutes, think about where your strengths can best be harnessed. Research like-minded groups that you can contribute your time. Perhaps it takes time to find your place and your role in this nonsense, but it’s far too important to sit on the sidelines.
How have you gotten involved and decided which groups to focus your energies on?