Inspiration, Jr. Day

Ordinary People become Extraordinary Social Change Leaders

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities.

I’m presenting an act to you, without leaving your desk or chair: Signing a petition.

The following stories are close to my own heart and experiences: childhood poverty, unaffordable insulin costs, and climate change. They may be close to yours too. These petitions and content are from Change.org.

“Today, to honor Martin Luther King Jr., we celebrate all the social justice leaders who followed in his wake. The fight for equality has made tremendous steps forward since the March on Washington in 1963. And there is more work to be done.

Here are a few of their stories:

Fighting for affordable health care is a social justice issue

Richard’s fight for fairness is personal. His son, Trevon, was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 4, and it rocked their family. Trevon’s survival now depends on regular doses of insulin. But even with good health insurance, families like theirs struggle to pay for the expensive medication.

Richard’s petition is asking state lawmakers to cap the price of insulin. And he’s a part of an even larger movement of changemakers with the same mission. As Martin Luther King Jr. noted, the fight to fix the health care system is a fight against inequality.

Jerome is a remarkable 17-year-old leader in the youth climate movement. Every Friday, he goes on strike in front of the White House to demand lawmakers act before it’s too late.

Jerome has started multiple petitions related to the climate movement. And he’s signed many, many more. His Friday strikes in D.C. echo the lessons of civil disobedience that Martin Luther King Jr. taught previous generations.

What can a U.S. President do to solve childhood poverty? It’s been 20 years since presidential candidates on the debate stage were asked the question. As we move closer to the 2020 election, Israel thinks it’s time the public gets an answer.

At the core of Israel’s petition: Make sure the United States is committed to ending childhood hunger, poverty, and homelessness. Israel is a true social justice leader fighting to make the world a safer place for all.

These extraordinary leaders are taking social change forward. And each started with one simple first step: they started a petition.

Through collective action, they’re bringing fairness, equity, and justice to their communities. Please sign and share their petitions today to help celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s lasting impact.”

If you share the petitions on social media, you expand their range. That’s also an act of service.

Thank you for reading and signing.

Affordable Health Care Act 2010, Health

Why Complaining is Useless and Protest is Useful

Injustice and Protest -quote by Elie Wiesel
Injustice and Protest -quote by Elie Wiesel, flickr.com cc

 

Life between the sheets (of paper) can be busy and distract especially in the post-election and pre-inauguration days.

Many people are frustrated and frightened with the PEOTUS rhetoric and impending changes. I know I am.

I haven’t written about my disappointment with the election except for a November post on hope and social activism. I don’t intend to re-hash why our president-elect is one scary person. You read Twitter and watch/read the news. You know.

The repeal of the Affordable Care Act will impact me and my family the most. I have a pre-existing condition and a kid under 26 years of age. I’ve witnessed what happened to people without insurance before the ACA came into existence; they lost everything and suffered significant health issues.

Complaining about the PEOTUS is futile. Hope and faith without action are fruitless.

My belief is if we want to make changes in our country we need to take peaceful action.

We need to get involved and go past the complaining.

 

 Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you. Thomas Jefferson

 

Actions don’t take a lot of time.

If you have two seconds, click and sign a petition. Retweet or post a positive message on change, healthcare, social justice or whatever issues are dear to your heart.

If you have one minute, dash off an email to your senator. Tell her/him to stand up for the issue.

If you have five minutes, call your senator. Google their name and you’ll get their phone number, email, and local office.

Writers, write about the issue. Tweeters, tweet about the issue. Facebooker’s post news on the issue. Use social media for social good.

To find out what writers can do, go over to Writers Resist #WriteOurDemocracy. They list events, author readings and will soon list writing prompts and opportunities for you to use the power of your pen to good influence.

Take a look at Maud Newton’s post on 2017 Resistance Actions: Week One for the specific actions she’s taking about issues.

Indivisible: A Practical Gude for Resisting the Trump Agenda is another site with resources for individuals and groups to utilize. This guide was written by former congressional staffers who reveal best practices for making Congress listen.

If you have a few hours you might attend one of the several protests around the country on January 21, 2017. A retiree was spurred to action after the election and organized the “Women’s March on Washington.”

These are only a few things on my mind as I head into the blogging year and I’m glad I wrote this off my chest.

Thanks for listening.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Dolores Huerta, a social justice activist:

“Every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person a potential activist, every minute a chance to change the world.”

See you next week.

 

 

 

 

Writing

Writing for Change: Activism and Writing

“You write in order to change the world … if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change it.”-James Baldwin

“What do you want to change with your pen?” Florencia Ramirez asked when she opened her presentation, “Activism and Writing.”  This thought provoking statement had many audience members perk up.

“How many of you have an issue you carry in your heart where you would like to see change?” Most of us could quickly mention several topics:

  • Violence against women and children
  • Education
  • Race, gender, sexual equality
  • Environmental issues

Florencia writes about water scarcity issues on her blog Eat Less Water. She uses this phrase to explain the concept of conserving the natural resource through farming practices and grocery-buying habits. Water experts predict that by 2025, two-thirds of the world will be experiencing water scarcity.

It’s not an easy task to rivet an audience with information on water scarcity especially since research statistics can be boring and dry. We don’t want to be reminded of school when we read about any of these topics.

water scarcity
water scarcity

We want others to care about the issue and we want to get them to act (change).

So how did Florencia manage to speak and write about this issue  of water scarcity and get several people talking about taking shorter showers, using buckets to capture water, and committing to plant only low water plants? Florencia is doing this by translating her passion for the topic and through that passion she has the reader experience that enthusiasm so it becomes their very own.

Three Elements to Use:

  1. Accessibility: Nest your information in story, use interesting language, poetic devices, give the issue a ‘face.’
  2. Optimism: Focus on the positive when you write your story, make it a hopeful one.
  3. Creative non-fiction: use narrative and storytelling to make your point. Your writing then becomes the change agent for something bigger.

An example of all three elements are found in these two short excerpts from the book that Florencia says changed her life:

Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring.” The outcry that followed its publication forced the banning of DDT and spurred revolutionary changes in the laws affecting our air, land, and water. The author nested the technical language of chemical fallout and science with eloquent storytelling and poetic language. She writes:

“These sprays, dusts and aerosols still the song of birds and the leaping of fish in the streams, coats the leaves with a deadly film, and to linger on the soil-all this through the intended target of a few weeds or insects.”

“A Who’s Who of pesticides is therefore of concern to us all. If we are going to live so intimately with these chemicals eating and drinking them, taking them into the very marrow of our bones – we had better know something about their nature and their power.”

An excerpt from Florencia’s manuscript in progress, Eat Less Water:

“In black stenciled letters on the sky blue wall I painted the words, “I love you to the moon and back” in my baby daughter’s room. It was a quote from my favorite children’s book. It never failed that when I read this line aloud to my daughter my voice cracked with emotion and tears pushed their way free. Many years later, I read in a very different book, that women and children of South Africa walk the distance of the moon and back seventeen times each day for water. I thought about the words that had been in my daughters first room. I contemplated the little girls carrying heavy pots of water on their heads to the moon and back. Again the tears pushed their way free…”

Start with a story, give the issue a ‘face,’ and write with optimism. We need to hear your activism.

“Optimism brings with it hope, a future with a purpose and therefore, a will to fight for a better world.” Saul Alinsky