Five Ways to Channel Your Energy Into Activism

So you voted. Here’s what’s next.

11.16.16
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In just one blurry week since the election, we have accelerated through four of the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression. The fifth one, acceptance, is where many of us are stuck. Some politicians and Oprah are calling for us to accept the results so that we can move forward. It’s a controversial message to send; it feels like a second defeat. But there is alternative to acceptance in this case: taking action. Below, five ways to channel your grief into energy, into activism.

1. Vote small.

Cast your vote in every freaking election that you’re allowed to, at the local, state and federal level.

All 435 seats in the House of Representatives are up for re-election every two years. Find yours here.

All 100 seats in the Senate are up for re-election every six years. They are separated into three classes (I, II, III), with each class on the ballot every two years. Find yours here.

Your governor is up for re-election every four years (unless you live in Vermont or New Hampshire, where it’s every two). And state legislation ballot measures and other elections (like your state’s attorney general and secretary of state) usually align with the presidential or the mid-term elections. Go to your state’s website and learn how your state government works.

County and city elections also usually align with presidential or mid-term elections. Find your locals government sites and stay informed.

For more general info, here’s a Wikipedia page that outlines how all our country’s elections work, and on what cadence.

2. Give some time away.

Find something you connect with — tutoring kids, working at a soup kitchen, cleaning up the environment, escorting at an abortion clinic, mentoring teens, helping animals — and commit to a rhythm.

Check out these national organizations. Visit volunteermatch.org.

Sign up at fighttrump.co to receive periodic emails (you choose the frequency) that highlight ways to get involved that speak to the issues you care about.

Or, more effectively, Google “volunteer in [your city]” and find your local programs.

Pick something, invite a friend, put it in your calendar, do it.

3. Give some money away.

Here’s our list of places you can donate.

Here’s Slate’s list, broken down by what you’re worried about.

Here’s Jezebel’s list, of “pro-women, pro-immigrant, pro-Earth, anti-bigotry organizations that need your support.”

Most of these orgs have the option to donate monthly, if you can manage it. Or go to your reminders app, set one that says “Pick something, do it now, 💸💸💸,” and make it reoccur every week or month. Don’t even tell anyone about it. Just do it.

4. Protest that shit.

Our right to protest and peacefully assemble is one of the oldest tenets of our democracy. Exercise that right. When you disagree with the decisions that are being made or at risk of being made, picket, march, rally, walk out, sign petitions.

Find your local activist groups on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, then follow them and join the fight.

Here’s Rolling Stone’s “Why Anti-Trump Protests Matter.”

And, in the worst case, here’s ACLU’s guide on what to do if your rights are violated at a demonstration or protest.

5. Stay vigilant.

Stay informed. Listen to the experiences of people who are different from you. Educate yourself and others. Stay clued into your own implicit biases and fight them tooth and nail. Question yourself. Question authority. Question the media. Stay angry, stay passionate.

And finally, here’s a list of concrete suggestions in preparation for January, organized by demographic. Warning: it’s exhaustive. We need exhaustive.

Illustration by Emily Zirimis.

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