Civic Diary 3/8/2017

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr)

Hello everyone, time for another civic update!

What am I up to?  Well less than I’d like due to some craziness (friends in assorted crises).

Helping with a political group’s social media: Still at that, and that one is getting challenging as noted, since there’s so many ways to take it – and ways to do it wrong.  What are the right news sites?  Right groups to post?  It’s quite a lot to learn and I’ve got a meeting on it coming up.

This taught me to be a lot more careful of information sources and to better understand more subtle political landscapes.  Some activist groups are at odds with each other.  People debate over the value of news aggregators.

A big thing I’m finding is social media has truly changed politics – there’s many ways to interacts and it vastly speeds how things move.  It’s also more multiordinal than expected – spread across many media.  Which is important in this charged political environment and our reliance on certain communications.

Lesson: Admit you have a lot to learn as you get civicly involved, and really learn to dig into the news and groups you follow, there’s probably some things you’re missing.

Getting Involved In New/Informal Groups: A lot have sprung up lately and I’m finding there’s something for everyone.  These seem to act as a kind of social nexus for getting people involved, and I think there’s something to that.  People involved in one of these more informal groups are also involved in other social groups – so this acts as a kind of connecting ground.

A lot of this is people taking a stab and doing it – and it seems to work.

Lesson: I think the new informal groups springing up are going to be really important as people are looking for new ways to get involved.  Also some politicians are really underestimating the organizing going on out there.

Getting Into District Flipping: This has gotten really big lately, and it’s important to find districts to flip, districts to maintain – and who you want to primary as they kinda suck at their jobs.  I think we’re going to see a lot of this in 2018.

Lesson: 2018 will be interesting.

Continuing Economic Activism: Calling companies about who they support, etc.  This one I’ve been intermittent on, but I think it’s important to keep at this.  Not boycotts per se (though I’m fine with those) but letting companies know their actions matter.  Believe me, some people listen.

Lesson: Not sure if there’s a lesson, yet, except this has been kinda ramped up to 11.

Regular Representative Contacts: Calling my reps all the time on issues.  They do listen, believe me (and one office has people who know me).  This also means follow your reps on issues – because you may be surprised.  Without naming names, one of my congresspeople had disappointed me – then pulled off an amazing town hall where it seems I’d sort of misunderstood their strategy.

What I do as noted is set up a Google alert to see who to call my state or federal reps on.  If you’re not sure what to annoy them on, let me recommend – plus I find the more informal groups often have great advice.

Lesson: Keep doing this.  Daily.

I admit I’ve not done as much as I’d like.  I’ve got a civic guide I’ve worked on I need to return to, I’ve not been able to make my city council meetings that I wanted, I want to do more with  But if you stay active you’ll do something.

One thing I find myself thinking over is that those everyday things we do to keep society running matter a lot.  Help a friend out with their needs.  Give someone a ride.  That stuff is more valuable than we realize.  I’ve had friends go through some awful crises and the fact people helped them, even a bit, made a difference.

– Steve