Friday, January 13, 2017

Daily Action: Find Your Local Representatives

Friends, confession time: for the past several years, in my city and state elections, if I hadn't heard anything bad about the people on the ballot, I assumed "no news is good news" and cast a vote for that person again.

Oh boy. *hangs head in embarrassment*

Also, since the 2016 election, I've found that I've mostly been focused on what is happening in Congress on a national level and completely neglecting what's happening in my home state.

Today, I decided it was time to find out who was representing me here in Chicago, as well is in the Illinois General Assembly, and I came away with some answers and some surprises. First off, my alderman is actually contemplating running for governor of Illinois. I had read up on him (and even endorsed him!) after hearing his about his intention to run for governor, but did not realize he had been representing me the whole time! That's pretty embarrassing. 

I also took the time to do some research on my representatives in the Illinois General Assembly. It turns out both my state representative and my senator both have e-newsletters that are sent out on a regular basis! I had been wondering if there was any way to regularly track what was happening in the state legislature, and these newsletters look like my best shot. I also tracked down my senator on Twitter, as well as my alderman. It appears my alderman has more followers than my senator, which made me a little sad since the senate district is massive.

Currently, the state legislature is on a break for the holiday weekend, but I'll be ready for when they return and begin sending out updates.

If you've got five minutes today to do a little bit of research, I highly recommend tracking down who is representing you in your city and your state. I had absolutely NO IDEA who had a say over my ward and districts, and it was incredibly enlightening, even if my ignorance did make me cringe a few times. Follow your reps on Twitter, subscribe to their e-newsletters, and plug their contact information into your phone so if the Affordable Care Act gets updated so states decide levels of insurance coverage, then you'll know who to reach out to first.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Daily Action: #SaveACA

Friends, the Senate voted last night to begin the process of repealing Obamacare. Please take a few minutes today to reach out to your representatives, especially if your reps are Republican. Since my Senators are both Democrats and voted NO on repealing the Affordable Care Act, I've been reaching out via Twitter to those moderate Republicans who might be persuaded to vote no on the repeal.

So please, take some time to contact your reps today. Even if you hate Obamacare/ACA with all of your heart, please call and ask them to wait to repeal until there is another plan available to replace it. I even called my parents (our third five-minute chat since the election), and asked my mother to call her Ohio reps. She is their constituent, and I am not, so her voice will matter more to that rep. My constituents have heard from me regularly on this issue, including via Countable

Please, please, please. Let's raise our voices together on this, as it will affect all of us and those we love in the end.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Currently Reading: ActionNow Tinyletter

Friends, since the election, I've been making efforts to diversify my reading sources as much as possible. I've purchased subscriptions for the New York Times and the Washington Post, and I've also subscribed to several tinyletters and organization newsletters. One of my favorite tinyletters right now is Actionnow, written by Mikki Halpin

Her posts are informative and insightful, as well as full of real, actionable items and causes that need attention and support. One of her posts addressed how to reach out to Simon & Schuster without boycotting the company, and I definitely followed some of the guidelines outlined (postcard below).

I've also been following some of the tips in this letter, and trying to accomplish some of the to-dos before I leave for the Women's March in Washington next week. On the topic of the march, she's recommended this video to watch, and I highly recommend it as well, especially for white allies. (I know I have a ton of learning and listening to do to be an effective ally, and for those of you who feel the same, this video emphasizes how listening and being uncomfortable is so important. "Oppression is not a comfortable topic.")

Finally, Mikki has written out an amazing action list. If you're unsure of where to start or how to show your support for organizations or communities that are most under threat by the next administration, this list is a great place to start.

Friends, do you have any tinyletter recommendations? Please let me know in the comments below!


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Daily Action: Add Your Name

Friends, even though I would like to donate to every cause I support on a monthly basis, my finances will not allow it. My debt plan for this year will also not allow it. It can feel frustrating and powerless to not be able to offer monetary support, but I am learning that I can support these organizations another way: with my name.

When Planned Parenthood went to deliver their petitions to Paul Ryan's office (after Ryan said PP would be denied funding as part of a repeal of the ACA), they were turned away. You cannot deny the powerful image of all of those boxes, full of 87,000 petitions, including one with my name on it.

Like John Proctor (or Daniel Day Lewis) said in the Crucible, it is MY NAME. It is the only one I have, and it belongs to no one but me. It is a powerful thing. 

Margaret Atwood, in the Handmaid's Tale, also speaks of the power of names:

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

While I cannot always donate to organizations, I can add my name. I stand for what this is saying. I am not afraid to be recognized as a supporter. I will not be listed as "anonymous." It can definitely be frightening to give up your anonymity, but as Mary Schmich once wrote, "Do one thing every day that scares you." 

(Friends, if there are petitions that you think need to be addressed, please feel free to add links below!)


Monday, January 9, 2017

Daily Action: Call Your Senator

Friends, this week begins Senate confirmation hearings for Cabinet nominees, and up first is Jeff Sessions for the Attorney General post. If you're interested in the full calendar of hearings, see below (taken from Countable's calendar here).

If you have five minutes today, go ahead and put your Senators' contact information into your phone, and then start calling. Currently, I have two numbers for each of mine - their Illinois offices, and their DC offices. I'm calling today to ask them to oppose Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, and I'll keep calling throughout the week as the hearings come up. 

If you're unsure of your Senator's contact details, this Google document outlines two numbers for each Senator. Also, if you prefer to work from a script like I do, here is a great one that I just used specifically for the confirmation hearings.
Attorney General
Secretary of Homeland Security
Secretary of State
Secretary of Education
Secretary of Transportation
Secretary of Defense
  • Nominee: Gen. James Mattis
  • Hearings: Thursday 1/12 in the Armed Services Committee
  • Committee Vote: TBD
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Secretary of Commerce
  • Nominee: Wilbur Ross
  • Hearings: Thursday 1/12 in the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.
  • Committee Vote: TBD
Secretary of Labor
  • Nominee: Andy Puzder
  • Hearings: Tentatively Thursday 1/12 in the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
  • Committee Vote: TBD
Secretary of Health and Human Services
  • Nominee: Rep. Tom Price (R-GA)
  • Hearings: Tentatively the week of 1/16 in the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
  • Committee Vote: TBD
Secretary of the Treasury
  • Nominee: Steven Mnuchin
  • Hearings: TBD in the Finance Committee.
  • Committee Vote: TBD
Secretary of the Interior
  • Nominee: Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT)
  • Hearings: TBD in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
  • Committee Vote: TBD
Secretary of Energy
  • Nominee: Rick Perry
  • Hearings: TBD in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
  • Committee Vote: TBD

Friday, January 6, 2017

Daily Action: Buy Plan B

When I was 21, I had a pregnancy scare.

I had been offered a job that summer to work as a costumer for an outdoor production company after I graduated college, and before I started my Masters program. I was incredibly excited about the opportunity, but I ended up not taking the position, as I felt I needed to be home with my family after my brother passed away. 

I was living with my parents, driving a pickup truck that cost almost my entire paycheck to fill, and working at a school uniform store part time. I also met and started dating a man twelve years older than myself. 

The first time we had sex, I wasn't too concerned going into it, as I'd been on the pill and I had asked him to pull out when he was close to completion. Things got completed a little sooner than I think he or I anticipated on his end, and I was suddenly panicking. Had I let my birth control lapse? Was it going to be effective enough? Did I have enough left over in my system to prevent a pregnancy? I'd used condoms with every other partner, and was completely out of my league on this one.

The next day, I went to the pharmacy and asked the pharmacist in my parents' hometown for the morning after pill. I had heard that it existed, and I thought it would be my best chance to avoid a pregnancy. The man scowled at me and said I needed a prescription. Oh man, now the real panic set in. I didn't have a doctor in the area - I couldn't get a prescription. I went home, found my birth control prescription, and took as many as I could. Was 6 enough? 8? 10? What will this do to my body? Will this poison me? Will it be effective in preventing a pregnancy? I read the instructions that came with the birth control from back to front, and over again. 

I think I ended up taking 8 pills, drank lots of water, and went to bed.

I ended up getting my period on June 6, 2006 while watching the Omen. I remember crying huge tears of relief in a bathroom stall at the movie theater. 

I would never wish those five days of panic on anyone. 

Last night, I went out and purchased Plan B. It's safe, legal, and there is only one tablet to take. It's also over the counter and has a shelf life of up to four years. I'm currently not pregnant (with no plans to be), and am on birth control, but I'm also afraid for how the next administration is planning on handling health care issues, specifically as they relate to women. I want to be able to ease the minds of my friends, if they are ever in a position where they need Plan B, and it's either no longer offered or the pharmacist will not sell it for moral reasons.  

If you're concerned about women's health care, as well as reproductive rights, I encourage you to go out and buy Plan B to have on hand. Maybe for you, maybe for someone you love, maybe for a someone your friends or family knows, maybe for someone who needs it and cannot afford it. The cost is $52 without insurance, and there is a coupon floating around the interwebs for $10 off. 

As always, thank you for reading. I have not shared this story before, but in light of the current political climate, I wanted to add my voice to the fight for reproductive rights. 


Thursday, January 5, 2017

Crafting for Good: The Pussyhat Project

Friends, by now you may have heard of the Pussyhat Project

As soon as I heard about this fantastic idea, I was hooked. A way to bring my knitting and activism together? This project was made for me! 

Thankfully, I'm not the only one who feels that way. Wednesday night, I was lucky to be able to join a group of fabulous knitters and crocheters at Women and Children First, my absolute favorite bookstore on the planet. 

I had already completed one hat prior to meeting up at the bookstore, but it gave me the opportunity to cast on another.

I am making these up in Alpaca with a Twist, so they are so soft and snuggly - perfect for a day of marching in the cold! 

Surrounded by other knitters. The varieties of pink were amazing!

I also go to catch up with my friend, Grace, whose hands move so quickly that I could not capture them properly. (She's knit ten hats already. She is my shero.)

It was a wonderful evening of being surrounded by knitters and making something for a common purpose. Most of these hats will be sent to D.C. through local yarn shops and local marchers who will be there, and I'll be taking my extras to hand out in person in D.C. while I'm there as well. I cannot tell you how much I am hoping to see a horizon filled with pink cat ears - it would certainly be a sight to see.

Friends, are you knitting for the pussyhat project? Are you going to the march in D.C.? If so, I hope to see you in all your pink hat glory there! 


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Daily Action: Say Thank You

I know this post may seem like a given, but hear me out: I think we have a long four years ahead of us, and a good place to start with building kindness in this world is by saying "thank you." 

When you're getting off the bus at the front, or when you're in the first train car and you are passing the operator as you walk off, say thanks. They got you to your destination in one piece, and you were able to knit, read, chat, browse, or nap a little because they took care of you. 

Thank your servers, because they are trying to make a living wage and make everyone happy at once. 
Say thanks to your friends and family, if they have supported you, are supporting you, or will support you in the future while you do what you need to do to make it through each day. 

Say thank you to those who hold doors, share their stories with you, who are out shoveling their sidewalks that you walk on every day, who work in your libraries, who answer your technology questions via chat on a website, who have given you a new perspective on an issue.

Finally, think about saying thank you to your representatives. 

My senator, Dick Durbin, is currently catching a lot of heat for co-sponsoring the BRIDGE Act

I personally think this bill is a great step forward, and I'm pleased to see my senator listed as a co-sponsor. I called yesterday to thank him (or have his staffers pass along my thanks), because I want him to know that his constituents approve of what he is doing. I want him to keep fighting for work authorization and other methods of deferring deportation. 

If your elected representatives are doing a good job, or taking a stand on hard issues, please let them know you support their actions. Our voices of support need to be heard in order for our reps to keep fighting on our behalf. 

If you're interested in communicating with your reps on this issue, I recommend using the Countable app (or desktop version). It'll communicate your opinion without having to pick up the phone (I work best with a script, TBH, but sometimes I feel adventurous.)

As always, if you're reading this, thank you - it means so much to me to have you here.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Daily Action: Visit Your Local Library

Friends, I love my local library. When I moved into my new apartment, one of the first items on my checklist was to find out how far I needed to walk to get my weekly book fix, and thankfully, my closest option was only ten minutes away. 

Through my local library's website, I can check out e-books for my phone, put books on hold and have them shipped to my closest location for pick-up, or renew books that I haven't yet gotten through. 

My local branch hosts knitting and sewing events on occasion, as well as reading events for kids and teenagers, and has a public meeting room that can be reserved for groups in the area. It plays a vital role in bringing together members of the community in a safe and peaceful space.

This week, I am asking you to take a field trip to your local library and see what services are offered there. I'm asking you to sign up for a library card and browse the hard copy shelves or the e-book shelves. I'm asking you to check out that movie that you always wanted to see, or that Mozart CD so you have something to relax to at night. This might seem a strange ask with everything else happening in the country at the moment, but I firmly believe that libraries are the cornerstones of our communities, and if they aren't used, are in danger of losing funding and support.

At my local library, the computers are in use by folks who do not have internet access in their homes, or do not have regular access to computers, but who still need to apply for jobs, complete government documents, or communicate with family, friends, attorneys, and/or employers. The after school homework assistance helps kids in the neighborhood succeed in their schooling, while letting the parents work and not worry about if their kids are safe at that moment. 

Some libraries have government funding, and some do not. Those that do rely on government funding have been subject to budget cuts, and it does not appear that those cuts will cease any time soon. While we wait to see how the incoming administration and Congress handles our budget (including funding for libraries), I ask that you check out your local library in person and see the benefits it offers you and your community. (Shout out to Mary Dempsey, who is cited in the linked article for building 40 new library locations in Chicago: "I’ve purchased and knocked down more liquor stores, more no-tell motels, more really crummy and dilapidated, burned-out buildings in neighborhood after neighborhood and replaced them with libraries than I’d ever thought I’d do in my life.")

If you're in an area without any libraries, perhaps check out this map for a listing of Little Free Libraries. I have four in my neighborhood, and some of my favorite books have come from those friendly little boxes.

Friends, do you use your libraries regularly? What services do you enjoy most? 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Resolutions: 2017

Friends, I had hoped to bring you a third post relating to the documentary 13TH by Ava DuVernay, but sadly, I was not able to navigate beyond the myriad of fake news sites I was coming across. I'll keep my eyes open for credible sources regarding companies that use prison labor in the United States and hopefully have something to share with you on that at a later date.

In the meantime, let's talk about 2017.

"May the bridges I burn light the way."

(OK - it's a quote from a 90210 episode, but it totally fits how I'm feeling this year.)

Like I said on Instagram, I'm no longer afraid to have difficult conversations after the 2016 election. It's just one of my resolutions this year, and this might be the first year that I actually chose achievable resolutions! (Well, most of them anyway. The knitting one is a bit iffy.) 

In 2017, I resolve to do one thing every day to make the world and my environment around me a safe and better place to live, for my friends, my community, my city, my country, myself.

I resolve to listen. To not try and dominate conversations, to approach interactions with an open mind, and to learn from those who have experienced what I cannot imagine. 

I resolve to read. To be uncomfortable, to push my boundaries, to gain insight into movements in our culture, to be a supporting force of authors and artists.

I resolve to stand up. To not be a passive bystander, to not be silenced by friends, family, or fear, to have difficult conversations with my communities.

I resolve to become debt free. 

I resolve to work towards having 200 completed projects on Ravelry. Knitting is my main stress reliever, so I'm rarely without a project on the needles.

I'm also hoping to put into practice some of these body positive resolutions, especially number 19.

Friends, do you have any resolutions for the coming year? Please let me know in the comments below, and Happy New Year!