Resources for Getting Involved Beyond Election Day

a text image: "just because you don't have the power to run outside and magically "fix" everything, it doesn't mean that you don't have power." - from "not a lot of reasons to sing, but enough" by KTM/Guante, art by Casper Pham.

I’m writing this before the results are in, so can’t comment on that. What I can comment on, however, is that it’s been really weird to have my poem about voting go viral over the last 48 hours.

If you’re here because of that piece, and are new to my work, welcome! Please feel free to take a look at my about page for some more info on what I do.

Anyway, a big part of the *point* of that poem is that voting is important, and also that voting is insufficient. Voting is a small thing we can do that can make a difference on the margins—and the margins matter—but the work of building a better world is much, much bigger than electoral strategy.

So this is a post with some readings and resources that have been useful to me about that idea of “the day after.” These aren’t deep dives into tactical questions; just some potential places to start, especially for people who haven’t been involved in organizing, activism, or advocacy work before. I hope these can be useful.

For people looking for a starting point

Deepa Iyer’s Social Change Ecosystem Map
“The social change ecosystem framework is a tool to clarify values, identify roles, and support organizations, campaigns, and networks committed to solidarity, justice, and equity. It identifies ten roles that people and organizations often show up in (such as weaver, builder, and storyteller) when they are responding to crises, participating in social change movements, or organizing collectively to advance a campaign or a cause related to equity, justice, and solidarity.

A collection of links and resources featuring some of my own writing on “getting involved”
This post features a poem, but also a bunch of other links specifically for people who are new to activism, organizing, and/or advocacy work. A few highlights:

adrienne maree brown on “finding your political home”
“political home, on the other hand [as opposed to just voting], is a place where we ideate, practice and build futures we believe in, finding alignment with those we are in accountable relationships with, and growing that alignment through organizing and education.”

For people interested in mutual aid, direct action, and on-the-ground work

Get Up And Get Going: How To Form A Group
“In today’s age, where the internet has taken up more and more of what social movements and struggles are based around, the need to have a presence on the streets and in our neighborhoods, is now greater than ever.

Activists Are Building a Counterculture of Care in Apocalyptic Times (Kelly Hayes & Shane Burley)
“Borders, like prison cells, are modes of separation that give people permission to forget other human beings. Creating a counterculture of care means refusing to abandon people. Borders, cages, and other forms of incarceration and disposal are all anathema to that counterculture.” – Kelly Hayes

Choose Your Fighter: The Next Major Reproductive Freedom Movement Has Begun
Editor’s note: most of the links I’m sharing here are general, but this one is specific to reproductive justice. That’s because, first and foremost, it’s important, but also because this link is a great example of the galaxy of different ways “getting involved” can look. It’s also always a good practice to listen to organizers, not just talking heads and commentators.

For people looking for some perspective and/or guiding stars

Ricardo Levins Morales’ Tending The Soil–Lessons For Organizing series
“In the wake of the 2020 election, social justice activists and organizers have a little more breathing room to push for systemic, transformative change. At this critical time, what questions do we need to ask, and what principles must we keep in mind, to make our movements for justice fruitful? This 24 page zine/pamphlet featuring Ricardo’s works and artwork contains 8 short lessons, drawing on his his over five decades of organizing.

Mariame Kaba: Everything Worthwhile Is Done With Other People
“It’s not humanly possible for you to just be your Lone Ranger self out there in the world. Ella Baker’s question, ‘Who are your people?’ when she would meet you is so important. Who are you accountable to in this world? Because that will tell me a lot about who you are. And how much hubris must we have to think that us individual persons are going to have all the answers for generations worth of harm built by multi-millions of people? It’s like, I’m on a 500-year clock right now. I’m right here knowing that we’ve got a hell of a long time before we’re going to see the end. Right now, all we’re doing is building the conditions that will allow the thing to happen.

Astra Taylor: Against Activism (on the difference between “activism” and “organizing”)
“While there are notable exceptions, many strands of contemporary activism risk emphasizing the self over the collective. By contrast, organizing is cooperative by definition: it aims to bring others into the fold, to build and exercise shared power. Organizing, as Smucker smartly defines it, involves turning ‘a social bloc into a political force.’”

Of course, if you’re reading this *literally* the day after the election, it’s okay to take a moment to breathe, to rest, to celebrate, and/or to mourn. The bigger takeaway is that movement work is a year-round endeavor; voting can help “shape the terrain of battle” (to quote that damn poem again), but there’s still the actual battle to fight.