This week we’re looking back at the action items we discussed on the first five episodes of “What Can I Do” featuring: Lila and Kelly on their own activist work, Marked By Covid’s Kristin Urquiza and Christine Keeves, Emerge’s A’shanti Gholar, NJ Activist Rachel Dawn Davis, and Shannon Downey a.k.a. Badass Cross Stitch.
Let’s talk about the strategies we discussed!
- Individual Actions
- Writing Op-Eds
This is something you can do when you have expertise in a particular subject area or want to advocate for a policy or position that affects you personally or affects your community. Anybody can submit an oped to a local paper, relevant magazine, or even post their oped online independently using a service like Medium. (BTW, check on the joint oped Lila and Marked by COVID Board Member Sarah Senk wrote for the Washington Post last week!)
- Approaching Politicians
Lila and A’shanti talked about how to voice your concerns to politicians when you see them in public. A’shanti told us about the time in high school that she checked a politician on his record in front of her whole class. Lila mentioned approaching politicians at an anti-war rally to let them know she’d sent them a petition. Kristin and Christine also spoke about training their volunteers in how to do this effectively. Be bold, polite, and to-the-point.
- Applying Your Unique Skills
Overall, a common theme in all our conversations was finding a way to contribute that suits your specific lifestyle and skills. Christine mentioned academics working alone to write articles, Rachel and Shannon spoke about artists contributing signs and other kinds of art. Everybody has a skill they can use to contribute to political change.
- Writing Op-Eds
- Volunteering for campaigns
A’shanti told us that she got her start in politics before she could even vote by volunteering for Harry Reid’s Senate campaign in Nevada. For her, volunteering led to a career she loves and has allowed her to work for some very high-profile candidates in the process. Rachel Dawn Davis, meanwhile, spoke about getting involved in local campaigns, which are often more dependent on volunteers.
- Generating Press
Kristin and Christine told us about how they planned Marked by COVID’s first media outreach, which involved Fedex-ing the governor of Arizona an invitation to Kristin’s dad’s funeral. The idea was to generate some media coverage so they’d have an opportunity to talk about why the governor’s COVID policy was so wrongheaded. Rachel Dawn Davis, meanwhile, reminded us, “if it wasn’t recorded, it didn’t happen.” Take photos of the work and make sure to share them.
- Building Community
Many of our guests spoke about how important it is to make sure any volunteers working on an effort you are leading are trained, supported, and engaged. Kristin talked about helping grieving COVID survivors and their families learn how to lobby elected officials. Shannon talked about the importance of building a safe and welcoming community for new members.
- Paying Experience Forward
Supporting other activists and bringing your specific skills and connections to their work was something all of our guests touched on. Shannon reminded us that she never wants to reinvent the wheel, so she looks for opportunities to bring her community to the aid of other activists in ways that don’t tax them and provide benefits to both communities.