“What Can I Do?” A Living Guide to #TheResistance in Denver & Beyond

26 Feb

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People are asking what they can do. Here are some compiled resources, suggestions, and thoughts; I update this page from time to time as I get new info.

Many of these resources direct you to the folks who have been organizing, planning, and mobilizing in our state for a long time. They are the experts. But first, a caveat. The resources / tips below aren’t exhaustive, and they don’t cover the whole landscape of groups and organizations that deserve mention here. Suggestions / additions are welcome in the comments section.

Resources: Mapping the Resistance Landscape

Groups to Follow and Support

Most of these have national or state-by-state chapters. Some are Denver-oriented.

Legal resources, advocates, legislative action, etc.

Community / grassroots groups, activism, etc.

Take Action

I hope that people are willing to commit to taking at least three actions per week in support of the resistance. During most successful resistance campaigns, activists often report that they spend much more time building trust and solidarity, providing care for one another, learning, training, planning, and preparing than they do actually mobilizing in actions.

  • Host a huddle / gathering / civic meeting. Encourage those who attend to do the same, if they can.
  • Support the Denver Metro Sanctuary Coalition, with your funds, your time, food, and if needed, your physical presence. Our undocumented neighbors have urgent needs.
  • Contribute to Jeanette Vizguerra’s legal assistance fund. She’s also asking for folks to sign the petition requesting approval of her stay of removal application or for the authorities to drop her case. Contribute to Ingrid Encalada’s legal fund too. Watch for opportunities to support other members of our community who are in sanctuary.
  • Reach out to the people you know in marginalized communities. Ask them to tell you their story. Listen deeply. See them & hear them. Offer them all of the help, support, and solidarity you can give. And then when you’re out in the world, confront racism actively and consistently.
  • Join, start, or attend an Indivisible Group.
  • Be in community everywhere you can find community. Attend a town hall, a teach-in, a community meeting, civic group, etc.
  • Organize and/or attend an action.
  • Bring a first-time-activist to a protest, rally, or other action.
  • Call your representatives (calling is more influential than letter-writing/emailing).
  • Support the Standing Rock Sioux.
  • Take a civil servant to lunch, coffee, or dinner. Ask them how they are doing, and what you can do to support them.
  • Attend a nonviolence and/or direct action training (or a few). If you are a nonviolent direct action trainer, consider organizing a few trainings for others to attend.
  • Begin a conversation at your church about joining the sanctuary coalition.
  • Plan a few meals a week with people you don’t normally connect with. Talk politics. Ask them how you can support them in getting involved in their community.
  • Spend some time learning about the local grassroots organizations active in your community. See how you can support their work. Show up when they ask you to show up.
  • Write an opinion article for the local paper.
  • Inform yourself about reparations.
  • If you’re a woman and/or a person of color, consider running for office. If you aren’t, consider lifting up and supporting women and/or people of color who are running for office.
  • Develop and share an online, crowdsourced document (e.g. googlesheet, googledoc) with resources / links to resources for others to contribute and share.
  • There is so much more. Add your ideas in the comments section below.

Some insights that came up during the discussion: Focus your energies on the things that most excite you. Own your skills, acknowledge your limitations, and focus on what brings you meaning, power, and satisfaction.

Recognize that being in a position to choose resistance is an extraordinary privilege, and that many in our community do not get to choose. We need to stand with / for everyone in our communities now. Use the freedoms you enjoy to create space for marginalized voices. Practice mutual respect. Don’t be afraid of clumsy interactions; learn from them, and when you know better, do better.

If you’re like me, then you’re in it for the long haul. But you are not alone.

Take it a day at a time, but do what you can to become informed and active as often you’re able. Despair is demobilizing; avoid it. Get help and support from your close networks when you need it, and then reciprocate when you can.

Resources: On Allying Effectively

Rev. Traci Blackmon, in a 2016 post related to Standing Rock, put it this way:

“The ally:

  • Shows up to listen, not lead.
  • Follows the directions of those at the center.
  • Uses privilege to point the spotlight in the direction of the pain.
  • Uses power to disrupt oppression.
  • Does not expect to be tutored on what is easily learned.
  • Knows that the moment is not for them, yet the Movement is about us all.”

Check out these recently published reads on how people with privilege can effectively ally with marginalized communities:

Resources: Civil Resistance Learning

Here are some slides posted at Warm Cookies of the Revolution from a presentation I gave there in January. It has a lot of visuals referenced during the gathering. Also, check out:

Sites with Accessible & Practical Info about Effective Civil Resistance

Recently Published Short Reads (check out the linked sources in them too)

Longer Reads

Film

Possible Discussion Topics for Huddles

  • Who in our immediate community needs support right now? Are there urgent needs that we can meet? What resources do we have around the table that we can mobilize?
  • How can we most effectively confront white supremacy? How can we inform and engage our white friends and family members to dismantle the oppressive systems from which they benefit?
  • What troubles do I face every day? How are my troubles different from or the same as my neighbors’? Of others’ in our community? How can we support one another?
  • What kind of world do we want to create? How will we know when we are on our way?
  • Where should we be 5 years from now? 15 years from now? 30 years from now? How can we get there?
  • Which actions are you taking each week? How is it going? What is working well? What do you think you could do better? Where do you need further support?
  • Watch “A Force More Powerful.” What insights from these historical cases apply here and now? How can we share these insights broadly?
  • Pick 5 campaigns to read about and discuss from the Swarthmore Nonviolent Action Database. What lessons can we learn from them?

In Closing

My friends, I am glad we are all awake. May we never go back to sleep. As Rebecca Solnit often reminds me, we live in a time of wild possibilities. And to paraphrase the incomparable Rev. James Lawson, do not succumb to the myth that you were birthed into this world impotently. You were born with the power of the universe in your fingers. Use it.

–Note: This post was last updated at 12:48am on August 24, 2017.–

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One Response to ““What Can I Do?” A Living Guide to #TheResistance in Denver & Beyond”

  1. libbyhigginsmail March 7, 2017 at 8:08 pm #

    This is amazing. Thank you so much. I recently watched your TEDx talk as well. I am an official fan and cannot wait to dive into these resources. I am like you, I am in it for the long haul. I could not be more inspired or motivated every time I see people stand up. We are the hope we have wished so long to see in the world…we have been here all along, our own answer to the questions of “how to fix this?” or ” will things get better?” We are the how and the time is now. Just by engaging, people are transforming into the solution. It is a beautiful thing to behold and be part of…now we must persist. “May we never go back to sleep.”

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