I need to feel like I can do something. Please give me hope.
November 9, 2016 5:10 AM   Subscribe

As an American currently living in (Pittsburgh) Pennsylvania, I'm pretty sure I'm still in the "denial" stage about the election - beyond the intense sadness, all I feel right now is a need to DO something to counteract what the country is about to be put through. How do I help stop the hatred from winning? What are other people doing?

I'm mourning the lost opportunity for equal pay for women. I'm afraid for my minority friends and neighbors (and for myself and my wife, as married lesbians). I'm sad and disgusted that the first president my 4-year old niece is going to know is President Grab Em By The Pussy. The impact this election will have on the climate, on international relations and global security, on women's rights, on our economy - all this is only now just starting to sink in, and ... I'm not feeling very good.

Happily I have a therapist appointment this afternoon, my anxiety meds are all where they need to be, and other than this question I'll be taking an internet break for a while, so I WILL be okay - but when I'm upset about something I find it helps to know what I can do, and right now I don't feel like there's anything at all I can do. I'm applying to grad schools right now and will only be applying in deeply blue states (and yes, I will be throwing in a Canadian application too) - but regardless of where I end up I want to do what I can to help contain and minimize the extent of the damages that are about to happen. I've seen the Facebook posts exhorting us to all look out for each other and our marginalized populations - yes, that sounds wonderful; how do I do this on a meaningful level? "Get involved in local government" isn't very clear - what does that even entail? What other organizations can we expect to regroup quickly and mobilize to fight back against what has just happened? What groups do I support with money and effort, what organizations do I boycott or work against ... just ... what do I do?

I guess I just want to know what actions seem likely in the short run to help, and what organizations I could get involved in over the longer term. I need to know I can help minimize the damage. Hell, even if you don't have ideas on that front, right now I'd settle for an inspiring quote about surviving dark times, or examples of things other people are doing/have done in the past that's made a difference. Thanks, Metafilter.
posted by DingoMutt to Law & Government (24 answers total) 77 users marked this as a favorite
Writer Dennis Perrin:

"If you weren't born or too young to remember the Reagan years, this is what 1980 felt like.

Know what we did? We resisted. All sorts of groups and individuals united to fight Reaganism.

We stopped direct US military intervention in Central America and forced Reagan's wars underground (leading to Iran/contra).

We showed solidarity with developing world movements, among other things. All without the use of social media.

So it can be done, must be done, and hopefully will be done.

And to those who thought Hillary was the best bet against Trump, buy some comfortable walking shoes. You'll be needed in the streets."
posted by johngoren at 5:24 AM on November 9, 2016 [32 favorites]

Short term and local: I'm told there's a gathering happening at the Ace in 'Sliberty tonight, to process and figure out how to move forward. I asked the friend who mentioned it to me for details, and will come back here with them when I know more. Just going ahead and mentioning it now in case you or other yinzers want to plan to hold time for it.
posted by Stacey at 5:33 AM on November 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

Here's the thing tonight. I don't think I can go, but if anyone does, I'd dearly love to hear about any local actions that come out of it. https://www.facebook.com/events/1692127401103311/?ti=icl
posted by Stacey at 6:01 AM on November 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

I haven't fully consolidated my own answers to this, but: you will need to try out many things that won't be the solution you're looking for, if only to expose yourself to people who are looking for the same thing. It's like getting a good therapist, I think, with intimidating trial and disheartening error and steps back when you think you've found a foundation.
I'm also in Pittsburgh and my plan is to approach many of the groups I've been considering reaching out to or have only supported in a casual way, but haven't gotten properly involved with yet (mostly for lack of time, sometimes money). This includes Jewish Family & Children's Services (refugee resettlement, education, poverty), the Urban League (education, housing justice, youth empowerment), Hill House Association and the Kingsley Association (mostly education and children's services, but possessing a powerful network). I will work to make my church active within the Pittsburgh Interfaith Action Network, and build up our ties to other churches. I will volunteer at the Gay & Lesbian Community Center downtown, help my church create additional safe spaces for people who are lgbtqia+ and homeless, and I will mentor/teach with Higher Achievement.
I'm going to be looking up the local campaign workers and organizers and see what's planned there. I'll visit socialist meetings and conservative reboot meetings. I'll chat up people and watch for meetings at The Big Idea and White Whale bookstores and other community meeting places that I discover.
I bumped up my donation this year with the United Way, which will help me make contacts with their less-casual donors. I will drive my employee organizations hard to volunteer and donate in ways that benefit the people who will be even more vulnerable now.
I'm not involved politically because like you I don't know how to go about it yet, but I will meet people and I'll find out what they've done and where the opportunities are. I'm not going to be good at all of this, and neither are you; many of the suggestions we're following will turn out not to be right for our energy and talents. But I'm going to work the connections that I have, and continue to read everything I can get my hands on about the history and current state of justice and social responsibility.
Things have never been fine, but if good has been able to exist before in spite of everything that has worked against it, we will continue to find and create it from whatever the future will bring.

Thanks for mentioning the event tonight, Stacey, I'll plan to be there.
posted by notquitemaryann at 6:08 AM on November 9, 2016 [6 favorites]

I am making serious, concrete plans for how much of my income I can set aside every month to give to actual existing resistance movements, prioritizing movements of marginalized people with concrete short-term goals. Right now, BLM bail fundraisers are sort of the platonic ideal example of what I want to be spending it on. I expect to see other similar groups coming into existence over the next few years.

I recently took a second job for independent reasons, but I am going to try to boost my hours there so that I can give more.

I hope this won't be the only thing I can do. But it feels like the obvious first step, since it is something that I can do right now — without needing to wait to reorganize my life in larger ways or gain new skills.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:39 AM on November 9, 2016 [10 favorites]

I'm thinking about and searching for something new and focused on the sharing of values, possibly by narratives. If you understand your own values enough to explain them, I think now is a good time to start trying to formulate them and tell the stories behind them in some kind of structured, systematic way.

I'm thinking about setting up a central repository for stories like this.

The kinds of values that are easy to relate to, that are easy to use to elicit a powerful emotional reaction, are what cause change, good and bad.
posted by amtho at 7:04 AM on November 9, 2016 [10 favorites]

My plan is to do some research, come up with a number of organizations that will help those that are most likely to suffer because of this election. Then, every week, I have to either volunteer for one of those orgs or send an org $10.

It's not much, but it's sustainable and thinking of it was the only way I got to sleep last night.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:11 AM on November 9, 2016 [5 favorites]

Another Pittsburgher here; I can't make the event tonight but I've been thinking about how best to reach out and contribute myself. Was hoping there might be a postmortem IRL event or some such if people wanted to talk; there seem to be quite a handful of us on MeFi - I'll be staying tuned for any future developments.
posted by miratime at 7:21 AM on November 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

Since you said you are in Pittsburgh, This is going on at the Ace Hotel Ballroom tonight. i have no idea what to expect and what it can possibly do, but figured I would share with you.
posted by punkrockrat at 7:56 AM on November 9, 2016

Response by poster: Stacey, thank you for that link - funnily (or not) enough, the Ace is where my wife and I went to mourn David Bowie earlier this year so I suppose it's appropriate that we'd come back to mourn again. I'm definitely going to try to get out and will pop back in or PM you an update if I do.

Everyone else, thank you for the ideas so far - it's good to feel like there are things I can actually do. Notquitemaryann, I especially appreciate your specific organization suggestions and will start reaching out myself - the Kingsley Association in particular is practically down the street from me, I should have been working with them ages ago. I guess if I can make out any infinitesimal bright point out of all of this, it's that I will finally go from thinking it would be nice to get involved in community efforts, to actually doing so - and hopefully others will as well.

Please keep the ideas coming! And one question: I know there's a local chapter of Amnesty International in my area, and my understanding is that they primarily get together to write letters in support of various causes. Does anybody have direct experience with them as a group? Given a relatively limited amount of time, is this a group through which I could actually effect positive change?
posted by DingoMutt at 7:59 AM on November 9, 2016

Planned Parenthood, ACLU, Transgender Law Center. Give money where you can, time where you cant.

Don't let something you know is wrong pass. Stand up for people who don't have anyone standing up for them, even if they call you names for it.

Be a decent human being. I'm glad you're asking the question, 'cause I'm interested in other people's answers.
posted by Mooski at 8:01 AM on November 9, 2016 [5 favorites]

I'm Canadian-American living in Canada, and I'm 100% with amtho and planning to set up a site along similar lines, - I need to do a bit of thinking about it though. (amtho if you want to link-share once you've set it up or chat more just memail me!)

I think this has been a triumph of a particular narrative that is nationalistic and leads in a very dangerous direction, but I also think that there is a lot of hope if we ordinary people learn from history and respond with active expressions of our (diverse) values, and do not fall into cynicism and inaction.

For me personally I do approach that through narrative, and also I am mulling over how despair in certain regions of the US (thinking of the rust belt in particular) has not been as much on my radar as I would like.

Anyways, ramblings. I am very glad to see this Ask and will be following it avidly.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:16 AM on November 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

I think that for many people the most immediate and direct effect on their lives will be the emboldening of the racist, sexist, etc. shitheads already around to enact their horribleness in smaller ways. You need to be willing to stand up when you see that happening, even at personal cost, even if it's socially awkward. There will be big struggles to fight, too, but at this very moment I'm most worried about women in hijabs being hassled on the street and the like.
posted by praemunire at 8:23 AM on November 9, 2016 [8 favorites]

I know there's a local chapter of Amnesty International in my area, and my understanding is that they primarily get together to write letters in support of various causes. Does anybody have direct experience with them as a group?

I'm close friends with the Western PA area coordinator, will see her this weekend. If you'd like me to ask her about their activities, I can. TBH if I were asked to rank the best people on the planet, she's in my top five.
posted by librarianamy at 9:56 AM on November 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: librarianamy, that would be great if you could - thank you!
posted by DingoMutt at 10:03 AM on November 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

For myself, feeling like I needed to do something:

- Reached out to friends who are in minority groups and telling them in plain speak that I am here for them, that I love them, and that if they need anything, to call on me.

- Made a recurring monthly donation to Planned Parenthood (who, in my earlier years, gave me the best healthcare and support of my life)

- Putting up a sticker in my therapy office that clearly states it is a safe and affirming space for all people

Other things I've done in the past:
- Sleep when I can sleep
- Drink a lot of water
- Allow for my sadness/fear and make space for it in my life
- Write what spontaneously comes
- Listen to what I call my Unsad mix - memail me if you want the tracklist, it's pretty great
- Look to my other progressive friends who are more well-informed than I and follow their lead
- Remind myself that I can trust what I make with my own hands, and do my work well as it's needed and real

Take care, be well.
posted by fairlynearlyready at 10:10 AM on November 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Such wonderful answers - thank you all (and again, please do keep them coming!). It's good to remember that we're all in this together, that so many of us want to do something to fight back against this. Towards that end, someone on my Facebook feed (I may need to block that site in my browswer; I'm having a hard time staying away voluntarily) just posted this link from Jezebel of "Pro-Woman, Pro-Earth, Anti-Bigotry Organizations" that we can support - thought I'd add it here for anybody who might find it useful.
posted by DingoMutt at 10:18 AM on November 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

Also as a newly minted member of the Biased Liberal Media (oh my word) I donated to Mother Jones, perhaps you might consider financially supporting organizations which need your help to stay afloat and will soon need it more (like your local NPR station).
posted by athirstforsalt at 12:18 PM on November 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Slate has this list of practical suggestions.
posted by rpfields at 4:45 PM on November 9, 2016

That slate link in your comment is not pointing to anything for me. In case that is happening to anyone else, here is what I think the link is:
How to Channel Your Post-Election Anger, Sadness, and Fear Into Action
posted by bleary at 6:08 PM on November 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

I used to volunteer for Amnesty International. From my experience, they tended to focus on international issues (I think there used to be some policy about not working on local issues and letting other countries take care of that) but that might have been softened now. I recommend checking it out - it's not just letter-writing, there's a lot of other mobilisation activity.
posted by divabat at 6:59 PM on November 9, 2016

Thanks bleary, that is the article. Not sure what is wrong with the link.
posted by rpfields at 7:30 PM on November 9, 2016

That Slate article is pretty good. One of the suggestions is to support good journalism because it'll be journalists who are going to be on the front lines, shining the light on what could be some dark times. So I just signed up for a subscription for the NY Times. They do need our supportl.
posted by storybored at 1:42 PM on November 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

One thing we can all do, is keep talking and posting about this. It wont be long before mainstream media stops talking about the election and thats when most of America will just put its head back in the sand and go about its daily business. But if we keep this alive, this spirit of volunteerism and speaking out against hate, and generous giving of time and money, we can make sure Trump doesn't get eight years. We can help keep the damage to a minimum (assuming the fucker doesnt get us into a nuclear conflict or something,).
posted by WalkerWestridge at 8:03 PM on November 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

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