by L.A. Kauffman
What’s the best way to get involved in the movement to resist — and, ideally, dislodge — the rogue administration in the White House? The answer is really up to you.
For starters, it helps to recognize that this movement isn’t really a single movement at all. It’s a complex network of many different movements, organizations, small groups, and individuals. Some focus on specific issues, like immigrant rights, racial justice, or gun control; others define their work through a strategic approach, like direct action or Congressional advocacy; others have a broad agenda defined by the needs of their local community.
While it might seem simpler or more straightforward if there were a single organization or set of leaders at the helm of the resistance, the sprawling character of our movements is actually a serious strength: It allows for many forms of leadership, gives political space for many perspectives, and provides an incredible array of possibilities for action.
It also translates into many points of entry — opportunities to get involved and make an impact — if you know how to find them.
First and most importantly, decide how involved you want to be and what kind of activism fits your interests, skills, and available time. Are you most motivated to work on a particular issue or issue area, like reproductive rights or climate change, or are you most interested in connecting with people in your community? Do you want to volunteer to take on specific tasks, like phone-banking, or are you interested in playing a bigger role in planning and executing actions or ongoing campaigns?
If you’re not sure, that’s okay — just keep that question in mind as you move on to the crucial second step: research. Set aside some dedicated time for this step. You’ll likely get more clarity on how you want to contribute as you delve more deeply into different options.
You’ll probably want to start with internet research, digging around to see what groups already exist in your community or the issue area you want to focus on.
Are there local affiliates of national progressive networks like Indivisible, the ACLU’s People Power Network, 350.org, Swing Left, NARAL, Sister District, or the Democratic Socialists of America? Are other groups in your community taking up resistance work? What kind of work do they do? Do they have regular meetings that are open to the public? Do they have upcoming actions or events you might attend, to check out their work?
One easy way to find a way into one of these groups is to “like” them on Facebook, and then see which of your friends does, too. Talk to your friend, and see if they’ll go to a meeting with you.
Going to a group’s meeting is the best way to get a feel for who they are, how they work, and whether they might be a good fit for you. If you live in a small town, there might only be one or two options to explore; in a big city, there will be many. If you’re new to activism, checking out a few different groups will give you an appreciation for the range of organizing approaches that exist in your community and a better idea of how you fit in.
If you can’t find a good fit, why not start your own group? Part of the power of grassroots organizing is you don’t have to wait for anyone’s permission or invitation to start taking action — you can find a few friends or associates and get something going on your own. A group doesn’t need to be big to make a difference. A small collective that meets around a kitchen table can have real impact if it takes focused and strategic action over time.
There are likely to be seasoned organizers in your community who can teach you about how to mobilize pressure, build connections, and win. Seek them out and learn from them. You may find ways to collaborate and coordinate, and you’ll want to be sure you’re complementing rather than duplicating or impeding work they’re already doing. If they are more directly impacted by the issue at hand than you and your group are — say, they’re a longstanding immigrant rights group, and your new group is looking for ways to be allies — listen hard to their perspective and ask rather than assume what you can do to be most helpful.
Whether you join an already existing group or start something on your own, there are lots of resources available to help you plan and execute an action strategy. This guide lists a number of books and action guides that can get you started, and with a little research and asking around you should be able to find experienced trainers who can help you and your group learn the nuts and bolts of strategic planning, nonviolent direct action, or whatever it is you want to learn.