Millions of people across the United States marched on Saturday in what may become the biggest single-day demonstration in this country’s history. And when they woke up on Sunday morning, many wondered: What’s next?
Historically, marches don’t start movements so much as they grow and support them, according to Carol Chetkovich, a professor of public policy at Mills College and author of “From the Ground Up, Grassroots Organizations Making Social Change.” “What a massive demonstration like Saturday’s can do,” she said, “is energize people who have not been active or not as active as they might be.”
Here are six concrete ways to keep your post-march momentum going:
#1: Sign up for e-mail updates from your local legislators.
Heed Barack Obama’s advice in his farewell address and engage with the government in your town or city. “People need to get involved with local politics,” echoed Chetkovich. “Find an issue or a candidate, work for them, and then stay onboard.”
It’s OK to start simple. Look up who is in charge where you live. Who sits on your local city council or board of supervisors? Who is your mayor? Who is your local rep? Then sign up for updates. Many local legislators have e-mail newsletters, Chetkovich said, which are a great (and easy) way to stay informed about issues in your area, as well as to learn about local meetings you should attend. Then attend them.
#2: Support groups that are already fighting for the issues you care about with time and resources.
So many of the issues people were marching for on Saturday already have organizations committed to protecting them. So pick an issue you care about, find a local or national organization that focuses on that issue, then volunteer and donate whatever resources you can. “There are many, many social change organizations in communities all across the country,” Chetkovich said. “We need to support those groups.”
#3: Have a conversation with someone who disagrees with you—and keep that conversation going.
First, a caveat: “reaching across the aisle” is by no means a necessity for promoting social change. If, for example, you’re a sexual assault survivor who has been re-traumatized by the election of President Donald Trump, no one is arguing you must reach out to those who supported him in order for real change to happen. “If that’s the space you’re in, this is not the time for you to try and do that,” Chetkovich said. “But there are a lot of people who are not in that kind of extremely vulnerable space who can engage in these kinds of dialogues.” She mentioned groups the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation as a good resource for guiding those efforts.
#4: Consider 10 Actions in 100 Days.
Over the weekend, organizers of the Women’s March on Washington launched their own specific plan for next steps, releasing a new action every 10 days during President Trump’s first 100 days in office. “Now is not the time to hang up our marching shoes it’s time to get our friends, family and community together and make history,” the march website urges.
The first action calls for marchers to send a postcard to their senators describing the issues that are most important to them. “Pour your heart out on any issue that you care about, whether it’s ending gender-based violence, reproductive rights and women’s health, LGBTQIA rights, worker’s rights, civil rights, immigrant rights, religious freedom, environmental justice or anything else,” the group urges, adding that people should share their postcards on their social media accounts to help keep enthusiasm going.
#5: Call Congress daily.
At Watch Us Run, HuffPost Women’s inauguration day event, activist and filmmaker Michael Moore offered his tips for resisting President Trump’s agenda: Call Congress daily. Here’s where to find your representative, and here’s where to find your senators. Make it part of you daily routine, Moore said, to the point where it becomes as second-nature as brushing your teeth. (Watch his full blueprint for resistance here.)
#6: Continue to demonstrate.
Marches and demonstrations will continue to happen. On Tuesday, January 24, for example, activists across the country are set to host a set of “Stop Trump’s #SwampCabinet” rallies in 35 states across the country. Anti-Trump rallies have been planned for April 15 ― tax day ― to pressure the president into releasing his tax returns.
“Demonstrations are a central strategy of movements,” said Chetkovich. “They can grow and sustain movements, and they can also put the opposition on notice. They signal that there a lot of people who hold certain values and beliefs.”
In other words, don’t hang up your marching shoes just yet.
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