Here's what has developed as my "plan." It's really been a growth of actions that started in my mid 20's. I've never been an activist type, honestly more content to share my opinions with my close knit group rather than put it out there in a meaningful way, so some of this was new to me, and took some learning and practice. Perhaps the results of that work might help someone else. Please add your favorite actions, tips, hints and tricks, too!
- Support the causes you believe in, that align with your values. Give them money. ESPECIALLY if you've never donated before. Your $10 means a lot and makes a difference, especially if it's money you've never given before.
Share the causes you believe in with others, to introduce others to them as well.
Each month I'm donating to organizations that matter. Much more so than I used to. Donate what you can, even if it's just $5.
Pick something new each month.
- Support the ACLU, sign up for their communications. Not only will they inform, but they can make communicating with your community easy. They organize a lot of helpful communication assistance tools. For instance, as HB2355 approached, they emailed out and provided an easy to complete form where you provided your information, and a personal message, and they sent it to the sheriff in your county for you, free or charge.
- Go to Countable.us and sign up for the newsletter, and download the app. They give summaries of legislation, news, and it pushes content about all level of legislative action, and most interesting to me state issues, including the actions of your representatives.
It also simplifies communication with your representatives.
- Consume news from various sources. Be wary of sources that are one sided, or self-serving. Journalism matters -- you NEED to know FACTS on situations, most importantly when you do not like them, or it makes you uncomfortable.
I have my list. Check out a February 2017 piece by Forbes that talks about what good journalism is, how it's measured, and who practices it. Pick a few from the list and make them your standards.
10 Journalism Brands Where You Find Real Facts Rather Than Alternative Facts - Forbes
- Get involved. Get out there and show up. Whether it's volunteering at an organization you believe in, getting more involved in your community, or gathering with others in peaceful demonstration. SHOWING UP says something. It's invigorating to find yourself amongst your people, and it fuels others as well.
Civic connection more broadly helps people weather difficulties in their lives. You are part of something larger than yourself. And those connections -- often amongst people of different backgrounds and situations -- can help you understand the world better.
- Don't be a knee-jerk reactionary. Understanding complex issues ALWAYS takes more than two seconds glancing at a sensationalist headline. Get used to that.
And pay very close attention to stories from any source. Be critical of what is written. Look not only at what is written, but what is left out? When the headlines scream that the feds are slashing funding for a program, if it doesn't detail how that org gets its funding, and just how much they are talking about -- go find out. You HAVE TO in order to understand the real issue.
- Learn. Many of us didn't pay attention in civics/government class, or if we did we forgot it over the years.
- Can you pass a U.S. Naturalization Exam? http://citizenshipfirst.us/exam/
- If you want to prep for that test, check out the study guide: https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Office%20of%20Citizenship/Citizenship%20Resource%20Center%20Site/Publications/PDFs/M-638_red.pdf
- Some tidbits under the title of American Civics at Khan Academy: https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/us-history/american-civics-parent
- Read the Constitution. No, really, READ it. http://constitutionus.com/