Thinking of spring...

We already know that one of the tactics of the Trump administration is chaos. I'm not sure they are strategic in their chaos, but they do chaos well - and often.

One of the results of this constant chaos is that folks can no longer engage well. Everything feels too overwhelming, and it seems smarter to just turn off the social media feeds, go back to bed, and pull the covers over our heads. Because just as we try to focus efforts in one direction, they slam us in five new directions with the current day of outrages. And those outrages that they don't create are supplemented by things like the most recent school shooting in Florida.

Yet through it all, signs of change are showing up. Just like the flowers that break through snow-encrusted ground as harbingers of spring, the results of special elections are the harbingers of what can be accomplished at the voting booth. As shown in this mid-December 2017 Washington Post article, the turn-out efforts are paying off. Races that once looked like lost causes are turning out to be not only contestable, but winnable.

Some express dismay that national leaders cannot seem to galvanize a congruent anti-Trump set of messages. But I don't think we have to have top-down messaging. It can help, of course, but the real way we can see a sea-change in 2018 is if we, at the local level, keep up our own ground game. We know our neighbors, we know our local officials, we know our local issues. While many issues are also national in scope, changes in hearts and minds can come more easily among folks who deal with each other face to face. People won't be changed by clever, if cogent arguments, but by hearing the stories of neighbors.

Spring is coming, so let's feed our often-tired selves, and get ready to bloom where we are.

 

A New List for a New Year

Well, 2017 was hard, amiright?

But 2018 is off to a glorious start as millions of women and their allies marched all around the globe in recent weeks. Here in the Winston Salem area, our Triad Women's March on the Polls was a huge success. Crowd estimates ranged from more than 3,000 to almost 5,000 people, easily one of the biggest actions that has ever taken place in the city. It is a harbinger of things to come if we stay busy, and do the necessary work of democracy.

So, what does our resolutions list need to look like for this exciting New Year?

Well, we need to be registered to vote. And if you are, then reach out to friends and neighbors and make sure they are registered also. As we get closer to the midterms, we'll keep folks posted on getting to the polls to vote.

Secondly, pay attention! Follow our Facebook posts, get our emails, and retweet us. We are trying to get local information into your hands regularly, but you can't participate if you aren't aware of what's going on.

Third, we are working on programming for our monthly 3rd Thursday meetings at Green Street Methodist Church (639 S. Green Street, WS). At these meetings, you'll hear speakers discuss issues that are of critical importance, and meet others in the area who care as much as you do about us resisting this administration.

And finally, we'll also be having fun gatherings, too, where you can share a beverage and get to know the other people who are working in our group. All work and no play is no way to run a resistance!

Podcasts

Good morning! Good evening! Good night!

As Indivisiblers, many of us sometimes feel disconnected from one another or even from the reality of dreary response form letters from our MOC's and MOGA's. One way we can fight that off is to remember our connections, with each other, and with others we don't even know, who are working alongside us. Another is to hear an encouraging word or two from them. 

A great way to do the last part is to listen to podcasts. Think of them as modern "talk radio". You can listen and learn and engage while you commute to work, or do a household chore. I've mowed my yard, driven miles and miles to work, or done a lot of dishes while listening to podcastsIf you have a computer, or smartphone, you probably have access to a great podcast app or two. If you're on an iPhone or an iPad, I strongly recommend OverCast as a podcast "client". You can find info about it at https://overcast.fm, lovingly developed by a friendly to the movement - Marco Arment, and it's free. Android has several good ones as well, like DoggCatcher, SoundCloud, or PocketCasts. You could also use the Audible app to subscribe and listen.

Podcasts themselves are also generally free. I was asked a while back, as an unrepentant podcast addict to post some of my favorites. Here's an unordered list, with some commentary on each. This is NOT an exhaustive list, just some I listen to regularly. Links are to the podcast feed I most commonly use. You might find others in your podcatcher application.

Politics

  • Politically Re-Active with W. Kamau Bell and Hari Kondabolu - W. Kamau Bell is an awesome human being who hosts a show on CNN called "United Shades of America". He's a stand-up comedian, and the show is informative as well as funny and a bit irreverent. I'd rate it PG13 for some occasional colorful language.
  • The Smartest Man in the World - Have you watched Whose Line Is It Anyway? If so, you might know of the smartly coiffed Greg Proops. He has a standup each week recorded. While it's comedy, it's also pointed, and decidedly in our direction. It's NSFW, but if you don't mind the language, it's an entertaining way to get something encouraging on a Monday. Oh, and he digs baseball, but not just the white dudes. He was a featured speaker at this year's Negro Leagues Hall of Fame induction, and is a bright baseball guy. Worth the time! PS: There's a long-form interview with actual folks around the last clinic providing safe and legal abortion services to the women of Mississippi - including those who are anti-choice and those who volunteer. It's great work for a comedian to "get it" Listen!
  • The Axe Files with David Axelrod - Speaking of worth the time. David Axelrod now helps run the University of Chicago's Institute of Politics, from where he sits a time or two each week with thoughtful folks on the nature of politics. This is NOT comedy, but is amazing, thoughtful, provoking, engaging, delighting. You'll find yourself transformed as you hear his interviews with Cory Booker, John Lewis, Bill Daley, Elizabeth Warren, Tom Cotton (even). Worth every second. Do it!
  • Here's the Thing with Alec Baldwin - Actor Alec Baldwin also podcasts about once every other week from WNYC and has in depth interviews that often veer into politics and creative processes with actors, musicians, lawyers, politicos, etc. Not always politics and activism, but you'll leave the time having done some good thinking.
  • Lovett or Leave It - Crooked Media, the guys who brought us Keeping it 1600 last year, now bring us a slew of great podcasts [ see below ! ]. This one is a "tonight show" style take on politics with a panel and standing "bits" like "The Rant Wheel", "Ok- Stop", and others. Think of it like a long form, awesome political sketch comedy/variety show/improv time. It's funny and a great way to start your Friday (when it typically releases).
  • MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show audio podcast - I almost never get to watch Rachel live. But, I can listen to the show, uninterrupted by commercials while I do the dishes. Just subscribe already!
  • Pod Save America - Oh how I love thee, Crooked Media! This show replaced Keeping It 1600, and comes out usually twice a week. Another insta-subscribe.
  • Pod Save the World - Crooked Media on Foreign Policy. Perhaps more bright people on a podcast than are in the entire current 45 state dept establishment. 
  • The Trump Survival Guide by Gene Stone - Some local NC folks have been interviewed here, including our very own Peter Wilbur from the Indivisible Greensboro team.
  • With Friends Like These - Ana Marie Cox, formerly of MTV News and many other outlets has a super thoughtful, wide-ranging conversation with loads of interesting people. Sometimes challenging, but always engaging.

Other Good Stuff

  • 60 Second Science - quick 2 minute snippet of actual, SCIENCE! from Scientific American. Certainly better than our EPA administrator seems to be doing.
  • Bullseye with Jesse Thorn - not politics really at all, but a smart conversation on creative media. I considered my mind blown when just one verse of JayZ was deconstructed in the "Out Shot" segment about a year ago. Give it a whirl. Not everyone's cup of tea, but certainly interesting.
  • Still Untitled: the Adam Savage Project - Did you watch Mythbusters? This is that eyebrow-singed, master propmaker and creative genius Adam Savage. Each week his crew from Tested.com discuss making stuff, science tours, the Maker movement, and being smarter, more test-y folks. 
  • TED Talks audio - Technology. Education. Design. Have you ever wondered if clouds could buy us time to solve climate change? Or if the refugee crisis is a test of our character? Or wanted to hear from someone who found that science didn't understand her children's rare disease until she herself studied it? Those are topics in my unlistened queue as I write this. These talks are designed to be short, punchy, full of brilliant, BRILLIANT content. You will not fail to think, to learn, to grow by listening to these. Be challenged and informed! TED talks are awesome.
  • The Tim Ferriss Show - Tim Ferriss is famous for The Four Hour Work Week, the Four Hour Body, and the Four Hour Chef, and his newest book: Tools for Titans [ all recommended ]. However, he talks each week with world-class performers. His interview with Ezra Klein from Vox was terrific, as was his talk with Cory Booker. He also talks with folks who make amazing bodies or make incredible creative successes. Be inspired, learn something, experiment. Hack yourself.
  • Accidental Tech Podcast - If I had to listen to only one nerd podcast: this is that show. It started out as an innocent set of asides from two veteran tech podcasters, Marco Arment and John Siracusa, and a mutual friend, while mostly talking about "cars". They gravitated back to talking about tech, primarily Mac's and mobile. They're funny, and nerdy, and fantastically excellent and thorough. They're decidedly pro-woman. Worth your time.
  • Freakonomics Radio - Stephen Dubner's podcast that partners with the explorations of incentives and stories to learn about the hidden side of economics. 
  • Pod4Ham - Did you love Hamilton? Would you like to hear some folks talking about each track from the cast recording for about 30 minutes each episode? Then, this is the podcast for you. They take each track in depth, and their run is completed, so you don't even have to wait between episodes like I did. Join the craze. You'll be back, time will tell, remember that I served you well. Oceans rise, empires fall. We will see each other through it all, and when push comes to shove... you'll probably listen to this podcast. 
  • Radiolab - Public Radio podcast on a wide range of in depth topics. Amazing sound quality, amazing stories. Your brain will go on overload. A favorite? Now deceased Oliver Sacks. Just listen, then we'll talk.

I personally subscribe to a bunch more, but many are related to other interests outside our scope. Ping me on Facebook for other recommendations. 

Cheers!

But We've Never Seen Anything Like This!

It's so true. The administration of 45 is unlike anything our country has ever experienced. For those of us who have worked on campaigns, volunteered for candidates, done community organizing, etc., it's as though all the "rules" we thought we knew were thrown out overnight, and we're struggling in a new world of hourly outrages, all of which are serious, yet none of which seem to be serious enough to derail the Trump train: at least not yet.

At our most recent large group meeting, we did a check-in with everyone to see how folks are feeling after almost 5 months of living in this new environment. We asked for a number and a word. The number range was from 1 to 10, with 1 meaning you felt completely dis-empowered, and 10 meaning you felt the most powerful you've ever felt. The word you chose backed up your number. Not surprisingly, there were no 10s.

People are tired, concerned, lonely, and worried. Some feel the resistance movement is already beginning to fade. In this way, our current situation is not new territory. New movements often have big starts, and then fizzle when the first round of eager volunteers tire out.

But we have been here before, and so Indivisible Piedmont NC isn't panicking about changes in group leadership. We aren't going to make anyone feel guilty for having issues in their personal lives that keep them from being as involved as they would like. We know that movements are living, breathing organisms that go through changes, and no movement can work at a fevered pitch forever. 

What we do have are thousands of people who have linked to our social media sites. Each day, folks have an opportunity to take an action that usually only requires a few minutes to complete. If you never before made phone calls to your member of congress, one phone call a week - done by thousands of people like you - means that resistance continues. Your life may be so full at the moment that you could never get away to do a public action, but each of the small gestures you take has great impact when there are thousands of us making them.

Resistance can sometimes look like a raging river, especially when we gather for large public actions. But resistance will most often be more like a steady drip on granite. We may not see immediate change, but we will wear down the rock. There are thousands of Indivisible groups around the country, and thousands of other progressive groups, all doing the work of resisting.

We are powerful. We are not alone. We are the resistance.

Get busy living or get busy dying.

Our democracy and important civic institutions came under threat the moment Donald Trump entered the race for the 2016 election. That threat continues. In the film The Shawshank Redemption, Red issues an amazing and important statement: "Get busy livin' or get busy dyin." 

Our democracy under siege requires us to decide this: are its best days before it, because of us and our action, or are they behind it, because of our inaction? Get busy livin' or get busy dyin'. We choose to act.

We're working to voice our opposition to key Cabinet nominees.

We're working to support immigrants and refugees as the most vulnerable members of our society and planet.

We're working to overturn NC House Bill 2.

And much more over time. This is just the beginning.

We are indivisible.