Friday, August 28, 2020

Feel Good Friday - Black Lives Matter

People, it's Feel Good Friday and Black Lives Matter
As you've seen in the news, this week police in Wisconsin shot Jacob Blake in the back seven times. Although he survived, he's paralyzed from the waist down. As long as police keep shooting Black men and women, I'll keep profiling groups that support racial justice.

Previous blogs focused on groups that support Black lives such as Showing Up for Racial Justice, Color of Change, and the Movement for Black Lives. I realized, however, that I've never highlighted the official Black Lives Matter organization, so I'm doing that today.

Black Lives Matter was founded in 2013 by Black organizers, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin's murderer, George Zimmerman. As they explain on the website, "Black Lives Matter began as a call to action in response to state-sanctioned violence and anti-Black racism. Our intention from the very beginning was to connect Black people from all over the world who have a shared desire for justice to act together in their communities."

Today the project is a member-led global network of more than 40 chapters across the US, UK and Canada. Their mission is to "eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes."

In addition to organizing direct actions, Black Lives Matter has a variety of resources, programs and social media campaigns. You can download a series of toolkits that address healing justice and direct action, conflict resolution in the chapters, and guidance for white people to #TalkAboutTravon and issues of racial justice. The Provocateurs is a series of videos featuring artists who create within a politically radical framework and #WhatMatters2020 is a campaign to bring BLM supporters and allies to the polls in the 2020 U.S. Presidential election. Watch a short video on that effort here

If you want to support the work of Black Lives Matter you can do that by making a donation, shopping for and wearing merchandise (including masks) and following their social media by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @Blklivesmatter.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Feel Good Friday - 5 Calls

After watching the Democratic National Convention this week, I'm all fired up to spend Feel Good Friday sharing an easy way to participate in our government. Make 5 Calls!

Founded by a husband and wife team in San Francisco, 5 Calls is an open source project to make advocacy accessible. A team of volunteers researches issues and determines which representatives are most influential on which topic. Next, they collect phone numbers for those offices and write a script that articulates a progressive position on the topic. All you have to do is spend 5 minutes to make 5 calls.

Calling members of Congress is more effective than emailing or ranting on social media because staffers tally the calls and give the count to your representatives. You can learn more about it by reading the articles linked on the 5 Calls website.

If you want to get started but aren't sure who to call or what to say, fill in your location to get a list of active issues. When I input Oakland, the top issues were related to the USPS, mail-in voting and demanding an extension to collect census data. 

If you're not interested in what shows up, you can view the list of all 74 active issues. Topics include: appointments, civil rights, consumer protection, criminal justice, digital rights, environment, foreign affairs, government oversight, gun reform, healthcare, immigration, LGBTQ, police reform, voter rights, women's rights, and workers' rights.

Clicking on a specific issue brings up a summary of the situation, the name and number of the politician to call and a script to follow, or use as inspiration. You can see the script for calling your Governor to demand ballot drop boxes at this link. Your call will be answered by a staffer (or voicemail) and should only take a minute. I'm writing this on Thursday night and am excited to make some calls tomorrow and report back in the comments.

You can support the work of 5 Calls with a donation and if you want reminders to participate, you can sign up for the 5 Calls Weekly Newsletter. Other ways to stay involved? Connect with their social media by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @make5calls. And for goodness sake, make 5 calls!

Friday, August 14, 2020

Feel Good Friday - Swing Left

With this week's historic pick of Kamala Harris as Joe Biden's running mate and less than 3 months to go until the presidential election, Feel Good Friday is getting political with Swing Left.

Started by friends after the 2016 elections, the mission of Swing Left is to "transform our government in 2020 by winning all the Houses - including the White House, the Senate, and the state houses key to rolling back Republican gerrymandering."

Swing Left does this by engaging voters and fundraising for campaigns in the 12 "Super States" that will help flip seats in Congress and the White House from Republican to Democrat. Taking control of the House in 2018 was one step, but there is more work to be done.

If you're interested in flipping the Senate, defending the House, winning state-level races to prevent gerrymandering and getting Trump out of office, you can join a group of Swing Left volunteers that numbers in the hundreds of thousands.

Sign up with Swing Left and you'll be guided to the most impactful things you can do to help Democrats win elections. That may mean organizing in a Super State, donating to a strategic fund, writing letters to likely Democratic voters or attending a virtual volunteer event.

If you want to provide general support for Swing Left and the work they're doing, you can make a donation and spread the word by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @swingleft. 

Let's do this!

Friday, August 7, 2020

Feel Good Friday - Boys & Girls Clubs of America

In today's Feel Good Friday, we're highlighting another organization that is helping people during the COVID-19 pandemic, Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

The mission of Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) is "to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens." 

BGCA started in 1860 with one club in Connecticut that provided young boys with an alternative to roaming the streets. In 1906 several clubs across the country affiliated and created a national organization, and in 1990 (yes, 130 years later) the name was updated to recognize that girls are also part of the cause.

During the pandemic, BGCA continues to serve local communities by providing meals, programming and support to nearly 4 million kids and teens. Programming is targeted at kids in need ages 6-18 and focuses on five key areas: bridging the workforce readiness gap, ending cycles of inequity, neutralizing safety threats, filling the mentorship void and amplifying marginalized voices. To see the variety of their work, watch this short video, Whatever It Takes to Build Great Futures.

BGCA programs are divided into six areas: sports and recreation, education, the arts, health and wellness, career development, and character and leadership. Some that I appreciate are the DramaMatters Afterschool club, involving kids in hands-on performing arts activities; Career Launch, helping teens explore their skills, interests and possible careers; and Million Members, Million Hours of Service, which gets club youth participating in volunteer and service projects. There are also programs for baseball, photography, enhancing self esteem and many, many more.

Finally, there is COVID-19 resource page that includes information on how to talk to your kids about it, how to recognized if they're stressed and how to help them create healthy habits and stay safe online. 

And the impact? 97% of Club teens expect to graduate from high school, 75% are volunteering in their communities and 80% said they understand how their feelings influence how they act.

If you'd like to support Boys & Girls Club of America you can do so by making a donation, volunteering, liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @BGCA_Clubs.