After the 2016 election, the nation’s largest protest was organized by volunteers across the country: The Women’s March on Washington. Between the main event in Washington D.C. and sister marches across the country and around the world, on January 21, 2017, an estimated 5 million people protested and sought visibility for the rights of and issues affecting women and girls.
While this was a massive movement of political will, it isn’t the only way to take action on political issues. In fact, there are many ways that people can engage in activism in their communities. Here are a few:
- Protest. Whether it’s a small town of 300 people or a major city of 30 million, political protest can garner big attention. Sometimes, it might be a small group of people standing on a street corner with signs; in other cases, it’s a large group of people marching through the streets. Protests can be confrontational – blocking intersections, chaining to doors – or they can be peaceful, even silent. It’s all up to the organizers and the crowd how they choose to demonstrate.
- Petitions. One easy way to take action from the comfort of your computer is to sign online petitions. Go to websites like MoveOn.org or Change.org to search for petitions relevant to your issue of interest. You might also sign petitions handled by volunteers in your community. Can’t find a petition for your cause or issue? Create one! Share it on social media, email it to friends and family, and encourage folks to spread the word. Petitions can be a great way to demonstrate support for – or against – legislation, business practices, and other actions that impact our lives.
- Boycott. Demonstrate your opinion by choosing where – and where not – to spend your hard earned cash. Grab Your Wallet is an example of a movement that helps people figure out where and how to exercise their political will economically. Can’t find an existing effort to plug into? Organize your own!
Want to learn more? Here are a few articles to check out (Note: Many of them were written immediately after the 2016 election and so focus on how to combat Trump administration policies and legislation. However, the same strategies and ideas can be used on almost any issue!):
- “4 Rules For Making a Protest Work, According to Experts” by Brian Resnick (Vox)
- "20 Principles for Successful Community Organizing" by Si Kahn (AlterNet)
- "Community Organizing: People Power From the Grassroots" by Dave Beckwith with Cristina Lopez (Center for Community Change)
- “Forget ‘Why?”, It’s Time to Get to Work” by Anil Dash (Medium)
- “How to Take Action – And Stay Sane – In The Trump Era” by Onnesha Roychoudhuri (Rolling Stone)
- “Organizing for Effective Advocacy: Conducting a Direct Action Campaign” – Community Tool Box, Center for Community Health and Development, University of Kansas
- “The Psychology of Effective Protest” by Olga Khazan (The Atlantic)
- "Resources for Resistance" by Jamee Greer (Western States Center)