After the November 8th election, I pretty quickly went from numb to furious and determined, vowing to quadruple my activism for the foreseeable future. Soon, I became a petition-signing, representative-voicemail-leaving, emailing machine! I am activist , hear me roar!
My niece, Chyanne, is also an activist. Last month, on Facebook and in person, we discussed making the transition from reactive to proactive activism. In the past, we’d both mainly reacted to situations in need of our attention. However, we agreed that a systematic approach was needed. As professional women, we, after all, have limited time and resources, including ourselves, so it is essential that we be wise about our approach – to give smarter, not harder, if you will. What follows are tips for approaching activism effectively, based upon our individual mulling and subsequent conversations:
- Develop a Tiered System of Priorities
What issues do you deem as most important? Perhaps develop a tiered system of priorities. The top level could include issues that you are willing to devote time, energy, and money to via volunteerism, promotion, and giving. A second level could entail issues that hold enough significance for you to complete “armchair activism” – activities that may be completed conveniently via technology.
- Research Organizations and Government Contacts
Do you know what organizations advocate for issues about which you are concerned? Do you have your local as well as national government contact information handy? If not, perhaps create a document with that information, so that it is ready when needed.
- Develop an Activism Calendar
Are there specific causes that you support that coincide with certain months, days of the year, or events that make advocacy during those times a logical match? Chyanne planned to rotate her donations from month to month, which I now plan to do as well. I printed out a free monthly calendar template for 2017 to use just for activism, so that I may stay organized (always a struggle!).
- Make a “Change for Social Change Jar”
No matter how well we plan, there are always issues that arise that demand our immediate attention. In response, my family has begun putting our spare change in a “Reactivism Jar” (pictured above), so that when those particular rainy days are upon us (and I fear that we’re in for a rainy season that may last four years!), we are ready to contribute.
- Use Social Media to Encourage Others to Follow Your Lead
I have never been very good at clicking the “Now that you’ve signed this petition, share on Facebook, Twitter, etc.” links on online petitions and donation sites, but I intend to change that because when others post something of a similar nature on Facebook, I often open, act, and share. So, why not take that extra step and encourage advocacy in others whenever possible?
On New Year’s Eve, my niece posted the following on Facebook:
Action Plan for 2017:
The most positive thing I have seen come out of this election has been the outpouring of support and action for agencies and causes. I want to support them all! However, I’ve been personally pulled in too many directions. My attempted solution is to focus on a particular issue or umbrella issue for each month of 2017. I will donate my monthly contributions to causes related to that issue and I will use my extra time to volunteer for agencies in need. I will make phone calls to legislators and governing bodies on their behalf and try to focus my attention each month.
I invite you to join me on this journey. I’m open to ideas and might need to make some adjustments to this calendar. I plan to announce the cause throughout the months and provide opportunities for conversation and action.
Is there anything I’ve missed – or any charities/agencies that you would recommend supporting under these umbrellas? Please comment!
Have a wonderful New Year!
Chyanne has inspired me to make similar announcements on Facebook. I will try to use tags as well to help draw increased traffic and attention to causes and organizations in need, such as Planned Parenthood.
Please note that I am not pretending to be an expert – just someone who wants to better maximize small contributions toward making the world a more humane dwelling place. Do you have additional tips? If so, please leave them in the Comments section below. I’d love for this to become a dialogue!
Whether you are female or male, I hope to see you at the Women’s March on Washington on January 21st! I’m bringing my eleven-year-old daughter, Jianna; hopefully such experiences will help motivate her to get a much earlier start as a concerned global citizen than I had!