Feminist Mantra Monday 13: Join a Movement
Laaaaaaadies! (and allies!) I hope you all found a women's march last weekend and marched your hearts out. I hope it raised your spirits and your voices and that you were carried into this week on a wave of community and joy.
And I hope that you read a few of the "what comes next?" pieces that popped up online since Saturday. I've clicked on almost all of those links (hell, I wrote one last week), but while I want so much to be inspired by them, I have to be honest—for some reason, I just feel exhausted.
I still haven't entirely made sense of why the women's march exhausted me just as much as it invigorated me, but I did manage to work through two of my frustrations with post-march things today:
1) Calling representatives/senators is important, but politics at the national/policy level just keeps disappointing me, and I'd rather direct my efforts toward non-profit initiatives, particularly at the local level, right now.
This is not in the slightest to say that political efforts are unimportant or that I don't have the utmost respect for the progressives who hit the pavement on Capitol Hill everyday. But it is to say that right now I want to find ways to give more of my time and energy to human services and environmental and arts organizations in my community where I can see my impact a little more firsthand. I need some up-in-my-face helping out to recoup from some of my political exhaustion lately.
2) Everyone wants to start a new movement when there are so many amazing organizations already on the ground that have been doing this work for years.
If you're out there starting a new thing and you're rocking it and getting people moving then YOU GO GIRL. I'm behind you 100%. But I can promise everyone else that there are a bajillion organizations that already have their 501c(3) status that you can direct your attention to, and they would be happy for the help. I was convinced of this a while ago by one of my lovely lovely friends who works for this wonderful organization in NC.
Rather than spreading ourselves too thin, we should pool our efforts and see what the orgs that are already doing the work need to do that work better. This will also help those white feminists of us (*cough* me *cough*) not to silence the women of color activists who have been doing this work for decades. Let's ask them what they need, rather than telling everyone what we want to do.
So, how does all of this fit into this week's mantra? As I was sorting through everything today, I watched this talk by Derek Sivers on starting a movement. In the talk, he points out that while the founder of a movement is important (somebody has to start the thing, of course), so is that first person who joins and the second and the third. We all want to start a movement, but right now we need to put our egos aside and have the courage to follow and encourage others to follow.
The important part is actually joining a movement. The Women's March was the first step, but what's the next step? Well, in some ways, it's any step! Pick a movement and ask how you can help out. The important part is just that you're actively helping out.
So, if reproductive rights is your thing, click here to see what help Planned Parenthood needs (or if you're in Chicago consider supporting the Chicago Abortion Fund). If you want to do more for housing security, check out the National Coalition for the Homeless' directory to find opportunities to help in your area. Pick a cause, take on 20 minutes of googling, send a few emails, and you're on your way to helping out.
I currently spend 5 or so hours a week volunteering for an arts org (hey, CHIRP!), but I'm looking for other monthly opportunities to do a little extra good in the world. Have any ideas, my Chicago ladies? What movement will you be joining, friends everywhere else? How can I help you find your cause?