Activist Tools: Resistance 101 for Introverts, or Activism for Everyone
When told to picture an activist, many of us imagine someone marching loud and proud with a picket sign, a person admired for the energy they dedicate to sit-ins, teach-ins, and long strategy meetings into the night. However, imagine what we could accomplish if we did not limit ourselves to this model of activism! Every successful movement needs not only charismatic speakers and leaders, but also numerous people working behind the scenes, whether they are helping to plan events, writing, creating art, or providing food and emotional support. Those who are not extraverts or able-bodied, who aren’t comfortable in crowds, who can’t trust that they will be treated fairly by law enforcement, who are responsible for the care of others, or who simply don’t live somewhere with any nearby marches, may be just as passionate about working toward justice as those who participate in more visible group actions. Although there’s been much emphasis on marching, attending town hall meetings, and calling your elected representatives, here are some additional ways to consider making worthy contributions to the Resistance.
Writing to your elected officials. Although many people calling at the same time is the most effective way to draw attention to an issue, writing can also be an important way to influence your elected representative’s opinion about issues that you care about, but which are not currently in the headlines. Whether calling or writing, sharing relevant personal experience is good. Writing means that you’ll be able to provide details, and you might even get a written response back (see examples). You can email or send letters, or fax them, or even use Resistbot which means you don’t need to look up your rep’s contact information!
Writing a comment on a government website. This overlooked aspect of our democracy is so important that it has been the target of Russian interference! The way it works is that any ordinary citizen has a voice in the process when a government agency proposes a change to a rule or regulation. During the comment period, you can go online and add your opinion to the record. If the government goes against what a majority of experts, organizations, and citizens have written, then the people can take the government to court in hopes of proving that the change was “arbitrary,” which would result in a reversal of the change. Read our Regulations and Rules 101 guide to participating in this process!
Writing op-eds and letters to the editor. If you have a personal perspective to share on an issue, or are well-informed about an issue, these could be effective ways to communicate with the readership of a newspaper, which includes elected officials. Op-eds commonly have a limit of 500-700 words, while letters to the editor are usually written in response to something already published in the newspaper and have a shorter limit of 150-250 words. See these tips on how to write an op-ed.
Writing to tell your story and share your knowledge. Together We Will USA is always looking for good writers! We’re especially interested in amplifying voices that are usually marginalized, and publicizing the amazing grassroots actions of our members and groups. Contact TWWnewsletter@gmail.com if interested.
Creating art and multimedia. If you have graphic design skills, you can create images to accompany written pieces, or stand-alone graphics that work well for being transmitted over social media. Or you can contribute locally by creating signs for your neighborhood or marchers. If you have video editing skills, short videos also work well for social media. If interested in volunteering with TWW USA, please contact TWWnewsletter@gmail.com.
Social media. Together We Will was born on social media – we grew out of the secret Facebook group, Pantsuit Nation. Nothing beats social media for quickly spreading information to a network of like-minded individuals. While we’ll continue to be active on Facebook and Twitter, we now invite you to join us over on Medium, where our goal is to have more interactive discussion and deeper conversations.
Text-banking. If phone banking is not appealing or practical, consider text banking through Rapid Resist. These days, some people prefer to be texted rather than called, and a text is less likely to be ignored than an email. You can set up a text-bank for your local group, or participate in text-banking that allows you to help turn out voters for critical elections, even if you live far away. Together We Will USA has a Sister Affiliates program, which matches a group in a blue district with one in a red district that has requested help (if interested, contact firstname.lastname@example.org). Some national organizations which rely on this type of work are the Sister District Project, Flippable, and Swing Left.
Translation. If you are fluent in another language besides English, you might translate written materials in order to reach a wider audience. This could be especially important for voter registration drives and campaigns of candidates you support. Translation services are also needed over the phone or in person for detained immigrants; contact Freedom for Immigrants (formerly known as CIVIC) for volunteer opportunities.
Create an online march. In January 2017, over 3,000 marchers participated in the online Disability March instead of physically being present at one of the Women’s Marches. An online march could also work for issues where fewer people are strong supporters, and they are located far from each other.
Tina Suzanne, a member of the TWW newsletter team, is a psychology professor and mom of two. She is new to political activism and believes in democracy and the power of collective action.