Wednesday, November 30, 2016

In the Resistance: What is your work?

For those of us engaged in the Resistance, what is going to have to happen relatively quickly is that we will need to take a two-pronged approach.

1.  There is our main work, which is a single focus.  This is the area in which we need to build subject-matter expertise, spend our time organizing and actually doing the work. This is also where we summarize and explain for others and advocate for assistance.  And part of this will be creating the calls for broader action that are constructed in enough detail that people know EXACTLY what they are being asked to do.  (For example, here is the script and here are the specific numbers to call on X day).

and then

2.  We need to be hooked into our networks so that when the call goes out, we are quickly mobilized and dedicated to act on a much broader range of issues through shows of numbers and force.   This can be showing up at protests/marches, making phone calls, writing letters, possible civil disobedience, boycotts, etc.

So, for example, it may be someone's work to dedicate themselves to trying to ban gay conversion therapy.  They may be working to get a city or state-wide ban on the practice.  They may be the person writing the call script and attaching numbers and then getting it out through networks in a campaign of calling.  They may be the one calling the local churches to talk to the pastors or church groups and go in armed with the data about the practice and the harm it does.  Any number of things. They may be doing this locally in their community, working with others, or they may be hooked into a larger organization and volunteering through them.  In their circles, they would be the "go-to" person for information about gay conversion therapy.

But then that person would also need to be hooked into a broader network and when they find out that there is movement on the Muslim Registry and a call for protest, they show up at the protest.  Or make the phone calls.  Or write the letters.  We will need to be broadly conversant on a large number of topics and willing to step in through coalitions and so forth and fight for each other.  But we can't be experts in everything or our effect will be dissipated.

And there will be some people for whom it is their work to build and sustain those information networks.

So how can we figure out what our primary work is?
Take a look at three different categories and then look for where they intersect.  A lot of this is still emergent and that is okay.  But keep an eye out for the intersections.

1.  What are the needs?
2.  What are my real skills, expertise, and areas where I am situationally well-placed to make a difference?
3.  What are my true passions?  (This part is very important because this is a marathon, not a sprint)

My emerging example
I am still trying to figure out how to be most useful.  BUT, here is where I am in my analysis.

1.  The needs are vast and too numerous for me to put them down right here before I go to work.
2.  I am really good at pulling groups of people together and facilitating group process and creative problem solving.  Really, really good at it when I get the chance.  I am very good at creating and driving towards hard-core "out of the box" solutions and thinking and then moving them towards implementation.  I'm really, really good at stepping back and having very big picture vision.  I am good at project management.  I am situated in an academic environment and I chair the steering committee of a consortium of 9 university libraries.  This gives me at least some access to academics in 9 institutions immediately in my region.  I am an excellent researcher and have access to proprietary information on virtually any topic available.
3.  I LOVE my city and I love cosmopolitan living.  I love the great cities of the United States.  I love our diversity and our cosmopolitan culture/s.  I love walking our streets.  And I love our planet and nature.  I am passionate about trying to figure out how to address the climate crisis.  I am also mad as hell that we city-folk seem to have so little political power and that forces from outside keep fucking with us.  As a resident of the District of Columbia, in particular, it feels like we are under attack from other parts of the country all the time.  I'm sick to fucking death of it.

So, where this is going for me is that I want our beautiful, wonderful cosmopolitan cities to be self-sustaining, resilient and be able to have more independence on how we live our lives and govern ourselves.  In order to to that, I see two areas that we really need to work on:  Sustainable energy independence and food security.  If we can get those two things in place, then we can move forward with the next phases...but those are two really, really important things.  That will give us power in our cities...AND, if we can do it right, could also weaken some of the power-base of the individuals and corporations that are destroying our democracy.

I think that if I broaden my networks to people who know people I know, we have SO much expertise available.  I want to pull them together and start thinking outside the box.

That is where I think my main work is going to be...but I will totally be sharing information, showing up at protests, making phone calls, writing letters, engaging in whatever is needed to be supportive of other actions.  Someone else will just have to tell me what they need me to do in enough detail that I can just follow along and do it.

Parting thoughts
We each have our work.  But again, we have to build our capacity in ourselves and in our communities.  We need to be spending face-time with each other, resting, doing things that feed our joy.  And we absolutely cannot give in to despair.  We just can't.

There are major strategies that are out there.  For those who maybe cannot do as much active work, giving to organizations who will be doing the fight and keep abreast of the calls for action are important.  No small part of the major strategies are going to be focused on legal battles.  On one of the pages of this blog, I've linked a bunch of organizations that could use donations.  Are they busy stacking the courts...yes.  But legal battles often take years and that gives us some time to try to organize and recapture some of the seats.

Remember, less than 25% of the country voted for Trump.  We have the popular vote AND there are a ton of people who did not vote, many of whom were intentionally disenfranchised as part of the GOP strategy.  We have to do a better job at getting rights restored and getting the vote out....which will be hard, but far from impossible.  We can do this.

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