Here we go- time to get busy. Let’s look at how you can use your time to influence change.
Some of these actions are quick and introvert-friendly. Some are harder and require you to step out of your comfort zone. You can do it.
Petition (quick and easy, but low impact)
Signing online petitions is a simple, entry-level action. You sign your name and zip code to support a cause you believe in. It takes about 30 seconds. BUT, it’s hard to say how much they actually accomplish. (Read here, here, and here.) Keep in mind that signing will probably get you on an email list, and right after you sign, you will probably be asked to donate money and share the petition. That being said, there’s no harm in signing a petition, as long as it’s not the only action you take.
Here are some petition sources:
Vote (moderate research time, impactful, it’s your duty)
Duh. You must vote. Vote in every election: local, state, and national. Vote, vote, vote. Here’s some ways to get informed:
Tell your friends, family, and neighbors to vote, too. If our friends just voted in local and midterm elections we could change the world. Far too many people (it would surprise you who) are inconsistent in voting. We should all be helping to get out the vote. Check out the Whatcom Democrats for get out the vote opportunities.
Call and Write Letters (quick to moderate time, moderate impact)
Contacting politicians and policy makers to share your opinion about specific issues is a simple, tried and true way to influence change. If you’ve never done it, it can sound intimidating. Luckily, there are scripts out there to follow to make it easy. And the people who answer the phones are nice. You don’t have to be a political junkie to call or write. These public servants are there to serve YOU. Let them know what you think.
Tip: Write handwritten letters instead of using the contact forms on their webpages or sending email. Real letters get noticed.
Tip: Put the numbers for your congresspeople (state and national) in your phone. You’re going to be calling them a lot. Find your elected officials.
Fabulous, rich resource: The Sixty-Five
Attend Town Hall Meetings (moderate time, high impact)
Word is, the best way to get your legislator’s attention is to attend one of their Town Hall meetings and ask questions. Check out this wonderful, detailed guide put together by a handful of former DC staffers. And, this former congressman confirms it: go to the Town Halls and ask hard questions.
Protest (moderate time, high profile impact)
Why should YOU participate in a peaceful protest? Read this.
For many of us, this will be our first time protesting. You don’t have to be a young radical to protest. Here are some tips for protesters. (These are very practical and may make you feel uncomfortable. Peaceful, organized protests are not without risk, but they are entirely different than violent destruction and looting.)
Watch the news and your networks for upcoming peaceful protests. There will be many.
Watch for local Planned Parenthood support rallies to counter anti-PP vigils.
Bellingham is the home of the longest running weekly peace vigil in the country. Downtown, every Friday from 4-5.
Volunteer (moderate to high time, high impact)
Remember all those organizations (big and small) you just donated too? They could use your time, too. Most of them have volunteer opportunities. Yes, life is busy. Sometimes there are volunteer opportunities that can be accomplished online, from the comfort of your pjs. Look into it. Bonus- it’s good for your health!
Serve 306 is asking you to pledge 306 hours of volunteer time over the next four years. That’s about 1.5 hours per week. Totally doable.
Also, your city or county probably has boards and commissions that need volunteers to guide decisions. Here’s Whatcom County’s current vacancies.
Campaign (moderate to high time, high impact)
Signing up as a volunteer for a political party or organization will get you on the list of folks to help out in the next campaign, whether it’s local, state, or national. There are lots of ways to help a campaign, ranging from low to high time commitment.
Run for office (high time, high impact)
Try a few of these and see how it goes. Then try a few more.
Next up, the final step: sustaining action.
Missed step three? Read it here.
Ready for step five? Read it here.