After the presidential election, like so many of us Valerie Schull a single mom in Chicago, was angry. So Valerie, a Spanish teacher, got motivated. Shull is co-founder of a local resistance group that is fight against change in federal and local governments that do not support their progressive beliefs. Their mission statement:
We work to BLOCK harm to ourselves and others, BUILD for future progressive candidates who govern for the people and BE the change and good we want to see.
Valerie is a personal friend, and has become my political mentor for making that change that I, too, want to see. Every single day she takes action, and leads others in doing so. Here are the highlights from our interview:
How does a busy single mom find time to be an activist? “It takes 30 seconds to make a phone call to your senator.”
“You don’t have to do it all.” Attend someone else’s party. Join someone’s activist group. Take the action provided by a leader in your community.
What happens when you show up at your representative’s office and demand action? “They’re knocked back on their heels” without a stance on issues, Shull said. The fumbling politician is now in your hands. This is an opportunity to help them write policy that supports your beliefs.
Every bit of activism makes a difference. If you’re nervous about speaking on the phone or in public, leave a voice mail after hours.
Phone busy? Call back. They do empty voice boxes. Try again.
Calls are powerful because staff have to man the phones, and have to deal with you immediately and pay attention now!
Letters are effective, because legally they have to tally your responses and respond to constituencies in writing.
Do call even if you live in a blue state, your representative needs call tallies to back up their arguments.
Live in a blue bubble? “Don’t assume where your representatives stand. When take for granted, asleep at the wheel again,” Shull says. Then, reach out to friends and family who live in other states where red states and urge them to call, because only constituent calls matter.
Contact Indivisible groups in other districts to support them at town hall meetings.
Even if you are in a red state where you worry your presence or calls do not count, show up! Find like-minded people and hold each other accountable. “If only 10 of you, that is 10 people showing up at Oren Hatch’s door — and he’s not used to “It does matter. It is cathartic. It is energizing.”
Fun is key. Yelling at your representative is fun!
“My goal is keeping up this momentum so we don’t all fall asleep again before we get through this shit-storm.”
It’s important she takes her daughter Emma, 8. “I want her to see what it looks like being an engaged and active citizen. I want her to have that sense of agency.”
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The Indivisible Guide Written by former Congressional staff breaks down in real-people talk exactly how politics work, using Tea Party’s successful tactics, and how to apply them to the current administration.
Find your local Indivisible group in your neighborhood.
Emily’s Group “We ignite change by getting pro-choice Democratic women elected to office.”
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