Civic Diary 5/20/2016

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

Hello everyone, welcome to my weekly look at my attempts to be more civicly engaged.

And . . . not a lot has happened.

One job ended last week, a new job began this week, and I’ve got some vacation coming up. I’ve had a lot on my mind obviously.

Which is probably a good lesson in this entire quest to be more civicly engaged – it’s not a simple, linear process. You will get interrupted. You will need to take a break. You will have Other Stuff To Do.

I confess to some pangs of guilt as I’m busy working on this, and it’s opened up a whole new world to me – but also I realize that’s the way it is. The desire to do this is real, and it won’t go away just because I’m spending a week getting a new job.  Or anything else.

I think that’s one of the most important things of being civcly engaged is that it has to come from a “real” place. A desire for change. A desire to connect. A desire to find out what you should and can do. But you can’t fake it or do it out of guilt, it’ll be false and exhausting.

A lot of really civicly active people I see are passionate. They’re for real. This is part of what they live and breathe – and when you try to do this as well that’s what you’re evolving towards.

However I do have a few findings.

  • Still planning to attend a local political meeting in June to understand how I can get involved in GOTV. That’s gonna be a big step for me.
  • I like the place I live, and I figure next year I’ll give a look at being on a city board. I’m being realistic here as I have a lot on my plate – three books and then some. I also want to learn more about it, but the idea calls to me.
  • By following the news more I’m realizing how much does not get said. Did you realize the guy’s behind Ben and Jerry’s have been involved in protests supporting better voting rights?  They’re part of Democracy Awakening. That they got a arrested at a protest? That they’re releasing an ice cream in celebration of it? Exactly, you didn’t hear about it.  The news is not always what you think.
  • I’ve become far more aware of how ideas, often insane ones, spread throughout political consciousness. If you told me a few months ago people would be freaking out about transsexuals in bathrooms, I’d figure it’d be confined to some religious group or a single state.
  • That guide to activism I’m reading, The Little Book of Revolution, is very helpful, and I thoroughly recommend it – even as I’m still finishing it. I’m going to have to reread it a second time to develop more of a plan, but it’s fantastic.
  • By now my reviews of political news and activism ideas is pretty regular. That always keeps “tweaking” me to move forward – it’s building structure on top of the passion.
  • As people continue to rail against the political establishment – mostly Trump supporters but also some Sanders supporters – it’s clear a lot of people don’t get that an establishment gets things done. Organization is how things happen, and if you don’t like the establishment your choices are to influence, take over, or replace.
  • As much as I support protest, that’s only part of it. Protest can inspire, it can disrupt, it can influence, it can get people to organize. But it seems people value protest for protest’s sake (mostly angry screaming) and that’s even counterproductive.

I suspect I’m not going to be having a lot of deep civil insights the next week or two. But I’m going to keep posting these.

I think I like this as I’m doing this publicly to hold myself accountable. If I screw up, I screw up in front of the world (well, on a blog and anywhere from 30-150 readers). It’s nicely sobering.

Besides, the choices I make do affect the world.

– Steve