Feb 11, 2019 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Auck’ward: The One About Driving


When my Darling Husband moved to the States to marry me, we had a singularly crappy old car with a manual transmission. I’d never driven one before, and practicing with my mom was so hilariously horrific we had to stop the car regularly because we were laughing so hard we couldn’t breathe. So the DH stepped up as our primary driver.

But all his driving experience was in New Zealand, where everything is flipped. Driver’s seat on the right, gear shift on the left, windshield wipers where the turn signal would be. I’d laugh when he walked to the passenger seat with the keys. I’d laugh when he’d clean the windshield while changing lanes. But when he went to shift gears, and he let muscle memory do the work, he’d bang his hand loudly against the door panel to his left. I wouldn’t laugh. I’d say, “We are all going to die.”

I came to New Zealand knowing I’d have to retrain myself like he did so long ago, and that I would probably scare the hell out of myself and everyone else while I did. I’m not like my dad, who picked up the rental car at Heathrow and drove us out of the parking lot like it was no big deal.

The strangest thing was that the driver’s license people didn’t think it was a big deal either. I walked into the office, they looked at my Minnesota license, and gave me a New Zealand one on the spot. No written exam, no driving test. Just “here you go!”

This is baffling. I wouldn’t have given me a license at that point.

I’m getting the hang of it now. I’m not wracked with anxiety when I need to drive somewhere anymore. I’m entirely dependent on Google Maps for getting around, but I was when I drove in Minneapolis, too. I get honked at sometimes for being too cautious or forgetting I have right of way. But it’s not too bad. Keep your shoulder on the center line, and follow other people.

And when I turn on my windshield wipers, I get to laugh at myself now.

At First Light

I’m a Wiccan by faith (Unitarian Universalist by church home), so an important issue I’m grappling with here in New Zealand is how to adapt my practice to the southern hemisphere, where seasons are flipped. While pagan bloggers down here recommend following the seasons as they come, since the Wheel of the Year is based in the natural cycles of growth and dormancy, it’s tough to uncouple the dates I’ve followed since I began this path in my teens. Finding meaningful connections in a new environment will be the project of many years to come.

A circle with four concentric circles. The outer blue one has the names of the pagan seasonal holidays, the second has the astrological signs associated with each quarter of the year, the third has the Northern Hemisphere corresponding dates to the holidays, and the center has a trinity knot marking the phases of life, death, and rebirth, and the elements of each season.
The Wiccan Wheel of the Year (with date associations for Northern Hemisphere)

I feel very much connected still to my northern home, in part thanks to the magic of the internet. I can imagine and remember the deep freeze in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and it’s easy to picture myself bundled up and weathering the polar vortex with that “cold enough for ya?” camaraderie.

And amid this dark, frozen time of year arrives a particularly significant pagan holiday on my calendar: Imbolc. It’s known as Candlemas in both pagan and Catholic tradition, the day of the year when all the ritual candles for the coming year are blessed in the first days when the return of the sun can be perceived. It’s light just a little earlier today, and dark just a little later, but the trend toward long sunny days reveals itself around February 1. (This is also how Groundhog Day becomes a holiday about a rodent seeing its shadow on February 2.)

A woman in a snowy forest. She's dressed in a warm dress with fur at the collar and wrists, with a crown and necklace of branches and berries. She looks down at a candle she holds, its light and heat wafting out into the winter backdrop. Her hair rises in a similar flame-like way, red and gold like fire.
Brigid sparking light in the winter.

It’s also (St.) Brigid’s Day, celebrating the Goddess’s return to the virgin girl, fresh with promise yet to be realized, her capacity for fertility and ripe abundance still latent. B is my homegirl; the Irish goddess and saint are inextricably entwined. The saint’s patronages are identical to the goddess’s domains: home and hearth, pregnancy and childbirth, fire and poetry. This time of year is for her and her boundless potentiality.

But here in the upside-down, today is most definitely Lammas (or Lughnasadh), the festival celebrating the harvest’s first fruits. We’ve been gorging on summer fruits and herbs all along, but only now are we able to enjoy some of things that needed the whole warm summer to ripen. We can sink our teeth into apples and sweet corn we haven’t seen since this time last year, even while the days are still long and the air is still warm.

So how do I reconcile two holy days that seem at such odds? The connection that’s helping me make sense of today’s contrast is my experience as a mother now. I’m watching my sons launch themselves more bravely into the world. They’re already their whole selves but still have many experiences to grow into. It’s back-to-school time, a bigger leap than usual as my sons start at new schools in a new country, looking for their place and the friends they’ll find there. Of course, this reminds me of myself at this age: told since my first years about how much potential I had, and seeing the first glimmer of what’s ahead in adulthood. And of my own mom, how she must have felt at this stage as both the girl and the mother.

A woman with long, red, braided hair and a green dress stands with one hand on her pregnant belly, the other hand holding a carved staff beside her. A bowl of fire rests before her. Her forehead bears a golden moon crescent, her chest has a golden Celtic knot on it, and her rounded belly has a golden spiral.

Brigid can see the light at the end of the tunnel of childhood that’s protected and sheltered her as she grew into her whole self. She can imagine the first fruits of the hard work of growing up. And the mother at Lammas can look back and see herself at that age, and forward at the harvest to come that sets another person on their own path. The returning light in the north flies like an arrow loosed into the south’s first abundant harvest. And I know it was Brigid launched that volley of fiery hope.

Auck’ward: The Mother Tongue

This is my first attempt at writing about the multicultural society here, and it certainly won’t be the last. I’ll be learning the ways Maori and other Pacific cultures are embedded and interpreted in New Zealand for the rest of my life. I’m coming at this as someone who’s been a little more than casually interested for a long time, but who’s observing and experiencing the extent of indigenous culture on the broader New Zealand society for the first time.

Four public trash and recycling cans, red, blue, yellow, and red. At the top they're labeled in English; beneath that in Maori; and beneath that in Chinese.
Municipal trash and recycling bins, labeled in English, Maori, and Chinese.

New Zealand is a bilingual country, with all government publications and services bearing messages in both English and Maori languages. Kids learn Te Reo Maori (“the Maori language”) words, phrases, and songs from the day they enter school. Signs in libraries and community centers and public swimming pools are labeled in both languages. And many places retain their original Maori names.

A busy advertisement for a community daycare offering full Maori immersion. The ad incorporates a number of Maori phrases, words, and cultural symbols like carved green Tiki heads.
Advertisement for a daycare center offering full Maori immersion.

The integration is more than official. Maori words crop up in Kiwi conversations all the time. Folks inquire about your family with “How’s the whanau?” Stores with calligraphied photo frames and plaques have “arohanui,” or “much love,” alongside the “love makes a family”-type stuff.

An artwork with panels in various colors and patterns, such as a dove, two white-skinned hands clasping, flowers, and the word "Arohanui."
Artwork featuring the Maori expression “arohanui,” or “much love.”

As someone who’s dedicated a lot of years to reading, writing, and speaking languages beyond English, I really love seeing Maori in print everywhere. I’m watching a bunch of shows on the Maori-language TV channels, and I’m working hard to get my pronunciation and vocabulary right. It’s the one part of indigenous culture where I have more clarity about what’s appropriative and what’s not.

Most importantly, though, is the fact that Maori’s omnipresence means that there’s no mistaking that indigenous people, their language, and their culture are alive and well, now and into the future. It’s a stark contrast with Native American people and cultures in America, where place names are obscured or unmoored from their origins, and Native people are rarely portrayed in the present day by mainstream media.

The differing paths of colonization have everything to do with this contrast. But New Zealand offers a vision for how language can be used to stitch together the past and present and offer a way forward as a bilingual and bicultural society.

Auck’ward: The Burning Daystar

The sun in New Zealand is not messing around.

That seems like an absurd thing to say, but it’s absolutely true. The sun isn’t that friendly yellow circle on kids’ drawings. It’s a vicious predator that will not be stopped.

It’s not the amount of sun we get. It’s the intensity. Once, I sat outside with my book, and I propped my feet on another chair. Five minutes later, I could feel my shins scorching. My shins.

Look at the sun attacking this poor ginger guy and his mate.

Peak UV levels here are 40 percent higher than at the same latitude in North America, and New Zealand has the highest rate of melanoma in the world. Folks take sun exposure very seriously here. Rash guard shirts and full-on wetsuits are for sale in every swimwear section. Homes often have a pump bottle of SPF 50 the size of a mayonnaise jar in Iowa. Long-sleeved shirts and pants are common at the beach. And lots of people wear brimmed hats–you can even buy them as part of kids’ school uniforms.

Okay, skin protection isn’t THIS over the top here.
(The Swim Reaper is a character in a Water Safety New Zealand ad campaign.)

The atmospheric conditions cause the severity of UV radiation here. There’s still a major hole in the ozone layer, but it’s over the continent of Antarctica. That said, “plumes” of ozone-depleted air can wash up over New Zealand, thinning the atmosphere so more UV rays get through. The lower concentration of air pollution here actually lets in more UV rays as well.

And try as I might, no matter how well I SPF it up or cover up, the sun is determined to leave a mark. As a person with the approximate skin color of a recently drowned person, I feel targeted. I know it’s coming for me. And when I let my guard down? It will attack with extreme prejudice.

Jan 9, 2019 - New Zealand Studies    1 Comment

Auck’ward: I’m Lovin’ It

A typical red McDonalds sign with yellow arches that reads "Macca's" instead.

I thought, “How should I show my New Zealand assimilation? I’ll write about McDonalds!” Obnoxious American powers, activate!

Say what you will about global fast food chains, but they accomplish a paradoxical feat: they’re all gloriously the same, and they all differ to fit the culture where they find themselves, at the same time. Videos exploring those regional differences are fun to watch, and I always find a new variation I wish was widely available (McD’s chicken katsu burger from Japan, people). But when you want a taste of America, there’s nothing like crappy food from an international corporation.

I bring glad tidings from New Zealand, though. McDonalds here is so much better here.

Bilingual Maori/English McDonalds menu with six most famous burgers.
Menu in Te Reo Maori from Hawke’s Bay.

A couple of factors are at work here. First and most importantly, corn syrup is banned here. Everything is generally less sticky sweet. Coke is made with cane sugar, so it tastes more like MexiCoke. (Do a taste test if you’ve never experienced the difference.) Tomato sauce (a.k.a. ketchup) is more savory. Peanut butter is hardly sweet at all. You can get these things American-style, but you’ll have to go to a specialty international foods store.

At McDonalds, this manifests in some interesting ways. First, the french fries are paler. They don’t get that sugary spray before freezing that caramelizes in the fryer and makes them look golden brown. So fries here are a little floppier and a little whiter, but the potato flavor is stronger. Sauces are better too. The sweet & sour dipping sauce tastes more like orange chicken. I’m sure these things are still a nutritional disaster, but they taste more complex than just pure sugary syrup.

Regional menu items are pretty great. New Zealand has this thing about beets (that’ll be a whole different post down the line), so the Kiwiburger has a big slice of beet and a fried egg in addition to your basic toppings. There’s the Big Brekkie burger, which has a fried egg, hashbrown, bacon, BBQ sauce, and cheese on top of the burger patty. The lime shakes are a huge hit with my kids. Ice cream cones come dipped in chocolate if you want, or with a piece of Flake chocolate bar.

Finally, and I find this weird and hard to explain, but you can customize your sandwiches to an absurd extent. Sure, it’s cool when you can swap out beef patties for Filet-o-Fish patties on your Big Mac. But do you want four beef patties on your Big Mac? Easy. Do you want a grilled chicken breast on your Quarter Pounder? No problem. Do you want alternating layers of fish and chicken and fried eggs? Here you go. This blows my mind, especially in contrast to the fact that all other portion sizes are small (no super sizing here).

It is absolutely no help to anyone that the back gate of our yard, toward the bus stops and grocery and library, opens into the parking lot of a McDonalds. It’s going to get worse when the kids start coming home from school. But it’s a taste of home, both in America and right here in New Zealand.


Jan 8, 2019 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Auck’ward: Dispatches from the Land of the Long White Cloud

Empty road stretching forward into a forest with early morning shadows and haze.

I’m reviving this blog after a period of neglect so I can share observations about my new home in Auckland, New Zealand. When we moved in December, I knew that there would be some culture shock, despite the ever-present American media and products and policies that soak into the culture everywhere.

But there are plenty of things that operate differently. Some of these are practical, like shop hours and food and driving. Others are deeper cultural issues, from manners to political and social attitudes. And on a personal level, I’m navigating living near family and figuring out where my career and my activism go from here.

I’ll tag posts about life in New Zealand with the terribly clever name “Auck’ward,” since I’ll still post more general posts about things happening in the wider world. Welcome back, and thanks for following along.

Apr 13, 2018 - Physical Ed    1 Comment

Still Shocking

CONTENT WARNING: physical abuse and torture

GED device like the ones used by the Rotenberg Center.

On Thursday, April 24, 2014, the FDA held a hearing to decide whether it’s okay to shock autistic people into submission. They held another hearing in 2016. It’s 2018 now, and the shocks haven’t stopped.

The Judge Rotenberg Educational Center In Canton, MA administers strong electrical shocks (60 volts and 15 milliamps) as part of its “aversive therapy” to prevent students from self-harm and aggression, though in reality, records show that they’re applied for as little as blowing spit bubbles or standing up. Children as young as nine years old receive this torture, which Dr. Ivar Lovaas saw as a logical extension of his ABA therapy, which many autistic people already consider a form of torture.

Still shot of video showing Andre McCollins being shocked.

The Center has been subject to a number of scandals, including the deaths of several patients in the 1980s and ‘90s. In June 2012, videotape was released to the media, showing JRC student Andre McCollins being restrained for over seven hours. In that time, he was shocked 31 times for infractions such as “tensing his body and yelling.” JRC spokespeople maintained that it was part of his court-approved treatment plan, but it left him hospitalized in a catatonic state for five and a half weeks. The UN later ruled that the incident fit their definition of torture.

The JRC claims that aversive therapy produces marked behavior modification. They maintain that, “Without the treatment program at JRC, these children and adults would be condemned to lives of pain by self-inflicted mutilation, psychotropic drugs, isolation, restraint and institutionalization—or even death.”

Ultimately, the FDA advisory panel recommended that all of these devices be banned. Some suggested that there should be a six-month period for “tapering off,” as if electric shocks are a medicine from which you must withdraw slowly or experience severe side effects. Even this qualified decision was a narrow one: only 60 percent of the panel approved the ban recommendation.

One of the most disturbing parts of the FDA panel in 2014 was the amount of time spent addressing the question of whether autistic people feel pain the same way as “normal” people. After all, if they can with stand repeated 60-volt shocks—sufficient to inflict second-degree burns to their skin—they can hardly have a “human tolerance.”

At the heart of this whole hearing, and indeed the story of the Judge Rotenberg Education Center, there lies a fundamental question: are autistics really human like the “rest of us”? Othering is a necessary component to any system of training or discipline that requires cruel and inhumane punishment. It’s okay to beat that slave, rape that woman, lock away that crazy person, or exterminate that ethnicity—they’re not the same as us. They don’t even have the same feelings that we have. They’re no better than animals; if we could only train them to be like us, we wouldn’t have to apply such tortures.

An ad in the “Ransom Notes” series issued by NYU.

And the problem with the dominant rhetoric surrounding autism right now—promoted relentlessly by groups like Autism $peaks—is that the autistic is silent, incapable of communicating from their self-imposed mental prison. An autistic child is a changeling, a dummy replica of the stolen, beloved, “real” child. This heartless thief leaves grieving families in suspended animation, and it must be combatted like anything that would abduct our children.

An ad by the National Foundation for Autism Research (NFAR).

It stands to reason that anything that might recover a lost child is worth a try. But there’s a fundamental disconnect between the “lost one” and the object on which “therapies” as bizarre and inhumane as bleach enemas, severe emetics, and electrical shocks are applied. The object being treated must stay “other,” or those desperate parents must face the reality that they are physically and mentally torturing their own child.

Except that all of this is a lie. There is no other son, no lost daughter—the children in front of us are real and human. They can communicate, and they can most certainly feel. They will not fare that much better in the world if parents or therapists abuse them until they stop flapping their hands or raising their voices. In fact, they’ll do just as poorly as any physically or mentally abused child. Because that’s what they are when treated with restraints, sensory deprivation, and electrical shocks—victims of torture.

It’s offensive that it took a special hearing in 2014 to decide whether administering shocks to human beings was a legitimate form of “education.” It’s infuriating that the FDA felt the need for more hearings in 2016. And it’s utterly disgusting that in 2018, the patients of the Judge Rotenberg Center are still waiting for the torture to end.

What you can do:

Visit the extensive living archive about the Judge Rotenberg Center, compiled and maintained by Lydia X. Z. Brown.

Take action to urge the FDA to finally enforce the ban they recommended in 2014.

Spread the word using the hashtag #StopTheShock.

Feb 23, 2018 - Social Studies    No Comments

Whose Safety?

CONTENT WARNING: school violence, suicide.

They say more guns in school will protect our children. I’m trying to figure out whose children they mean.

Because it sure isn’t black and brown children. We’ve got a list of names that’s way too long of children who are dead because a cop or an armed white guy thought that their skin color is an existential threat. That weapon can’t be taken off, it can’t be countered by good behavior, and they carry it night and day from the moment they’re born. Black children are almost four times more likely to be shot and killed than white children.

It sure isn’t our mentally ill and disabled children. Teachers are inadequately trained to recognize and deal with mental illness, and most training to deal with neurodivergent or disabled kids trades in misconceptions, ignoring the basic rule that every disabled person should be approached with an assumption of competence.

Mentally ill and disabled students already receive a disproportionate amount of attention from school resource officers—18 percent of disabled secondary students nationwide get suspended, versus 10 percent of the non-disabled students. School staff often read escalating emotions as threatening. My own autistic kid got agitated in a class headed up by a substitute teacher. He was taken down to the ground and handcuffed by the school guard, when a few minutes outside of the room to cool down would have achieved the desired effect.

We also know that children as young as five years old can be suicidally depressed and make attempts to kill themselves, often impulsively. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth between ages 5-24. Access to firearms increases the likelihood that a child will attempt suicide; with a gun, they’re much more likely to be successful. In fact, youth are 60 percent more likely to commit suicide with a gun than they were in 2007. How safe are our schools if they increase access to guns for suicidal kids? What kind of horror would it be if “suicide by teacher” became a thing?

And it sure isn’t children who exist where these issues intersect. The majority of US teachers are white women, and implicit bias research shows that, despite training and intention to reach cultural competence, black and brown students are perceived as larger, older, and more aggressive. Add in the unpredictable behavior displayed by mentally ill and disabled students, and the chance of teachers misinterpreting their actions as threatening skyrockets. Disabled students of color are already suspended more often than any other group—1 in 4 for boys, 1 in 5 for girls. Add guns, and the stakes become unbearably high.

In a country where teachers assume the cost of the most basic classroom supplies like books and paper, we’re also increasingly expecting them to lay down their lives in a school shooting scenario. I don’t know a teacher who wouldn’t already do that, to be honest. But in situations where trained, experienced gun users fail to offer a viable defense against a shooter, teachers would be expected to protect the lives of their students as if they were cops or soldiers. That doesn’t even address how law enforcement would react upon entering a school with an active shooter and an array of other people brandishing guns, some of whom could be as young as 22 and of any race or gender.

So again I ask: whose children are safer if we arm teachers? It sure isn’t mine, and it sure isn’t yours.

Jan 4, 2018 - Geography, Psychology    1 Comment

The Year of the Volcano

I left for New Zealand with a conundrum packed in my carry-on: how I could I celebrate the winter solstice my soul needs this time of year in a place where it’d be the summer solstice? At first, I thought Midsummer’s Eve would be the answer, but the short night isn’t deep enough to sink into. Even in the dark, the smell of green things and the fresh sunset would puncture my illusion. My body would unfurl like a leaf in the evening warmth; no curling in to protect my blood-hot heart from the winter chill.

Rangitoto Island, Auckland, New Zealand

Two days before the solstice, I did something that the telling of which still feels blocky and foreign in my mouth: I climbed a volcano. Guarding and menacing the Hauraki Gulf, in the curve of Auckland, stands Rangitoto Island. It’s visible all along the North Shore, a compass point of dark green above the water. Locals like to remind visitors that dormant Rangitoto is overdue, like a spun-out pregnancy.

Rocks and flowering trees on Rangitoto Island

The landscape is both lush and austere: blooming trees and thick foliage growing around fields of hot black volcanic rubble. The higher you climb, the fewer basalt fields there are, and the jungle-like nature arches all around. The massive caldera looks like an Alpine valley.

Rangitoto Island caldera

But as I stood, looking down into that crater, my insight shifted and I saw living fire beneath that quiet forest floor. The rolling, arcing, molten center enfolded me just as the nourishing dark earth did, all in the same place. I felt grounded and explosive. I felt firm and strong and liquid and volatile. I was held in solid rock at the edge of heat so intense it melted both rock and body.

The barrier between these forces may seem stark. But the whole thing—the volcanic core and the blackness of rock and fertile soil—exist to create. The cataclysm that cracked the sea floor with fire and steam raised Rangitoto into being. What destroyed and choked and covered the sun in ash created a point on the surface of this planet that wasn’t there before. And atop that cooling land, rocky and barren, the nutrients that had churned in fire grew a vibrant diversity of plants, a biome that drew the lively creatures that formed the orchestral theme as we climbed. The island breathed in sea water around its porous edges, and filtered the gulf to turquoise clarity.

Another eruption is due. Rangitoto will destroy and create again. The destruction is not malicious; the creation is not joyous. But they will both be powerful and life-changing, no matter how small the event. Until then, the island is a vessel of potential. They call that dormancy, but there is nothing sleepy or restful about Rangitoto. It is patient. It waits. What looks like doing nothing couldn’t be further from the truth.

This is how I will create. The need to be still allows my fiery heart to fill and melt impurities. I cannot produce without this preparation; I am not losing time as I conserve my resources. Making changes that clear away old growth and connections is not cruel or unloving. Transforming stale material and ideas makes me stronger and more authentic. And I have the power to raise the earth and make something this planet has never known before. I am the volcano.

The author with Rangitoto Island

PS: This picture of me and Rangitoto was taken atop another volcano I climbed. I’m a volcano-climbing fool.

Oct 28, 2016 - Political Science    1 Comment

Disabled, Not Disempowered

headbands-masculinas-06

The flop-preventative “sleevie” headband. If you weren’t alive in the ’90s, I can’t help you.

I’ve been an activist since high school. Administrators made a rule that t-shirt sleeve headbands we used to hold back floppy skater hair were the same as hats (and therefore forbidden) when worn by boys. We organized a direct action to have all the girls wear them for one school day, and we delivered a letter to the front office threatening a Title IX suit for gender discrimination.

They reversed the policy.

I’m also a political junkie. I prefer issue politics, which build bridges of common values across otherwise insurmountable obstacles, to electoral politics. But my values compel me work in that arena too.

Here’s my problem, though: I have a chronic pain disorder, as well as various mental health issues, which combine to keep me from being as present physically as I want to be. Marches and rallies, door-knocking and phone-banking, they can all be too much for my health. Missing those things leaves me feeling ineffective and isolated from the people and experiences that contribute to a sense of connection that’s even more of a reward than the actual work.

But there are things that people with physical and mental disabilities can do to contribute meaningfully. Here are some of the ways I try to have an impact with what I’ve got.

disabilityprotest

1) Advocate for disability accommodations in political and activist spaces. There’s a real effort right now to make social justice movements intentionally inclusive. Elders and youth share power and responsibility more evenly. Folks commonly state their pronouns during introductions. Translators are frequently available. But disability issues are often left out of consideration.

So contact campaigns and groups and find out if their meeting places are disability accessible, to make them aware of barriers like stairs and narrow doors (common in churches, which provide cheap locations for large groups). Reach out to protest organizers to request march details so you can participate at the beginning or end locations. Help them devise routes that are safer for low-mobility attendees. Convince them to provide sign language interpreters and crisis support for folks who may be anxious in large crowds or triggered by the presence of aggressive law enforcement or counter-protesters.

2) Share information and messages in social media spaces. Some people brand this as “slacktivism,” but there are countless movements that wouldn’t have the global reach and organizing power they’ve achieved without Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Tumblr. Share livestreams, amplify hashtags, invite people to events, and aggregate links and facts so people can find centralized information.

3) Volunteer from home. It’s still standard for people to go to a central location to make calls in support of a campaign, but there are plenty of tools out there now that allow people to do the same work from home with a laptop and phone. Even patch-thru phonebanks, one of the most highly effective tools for getting people to take a simple action like send a message to their legislators, can be done from home. If it’s difficult for you to get to an office, ask the campaign to set you up to work at home. Data entry is equally valuable and accessible at home.

4) Raise money for the cause. This one feels impossible sometimes, because disabled people are so often under- or unemployed, or on a fixed income. But we have the same networks of friends, family, and acquaintances, and the values we share with those people can motivate them to donate. Surprisingly often, the only thing that keeps them from doing that is that no one has asked. Explain why you think it’s important, connect it to your shared values so they see their self-interest in it, and ask them for an amount that would be meaningful. Sure, some will say no, and that shouldn’t make you shame or failed. But you can’t know unless you ask, and people will surprise you all the time.

5) Create things. Your contribution to an effort can be measured in time, treasure, and talent. If the first two are difficult because of your physical and financial resources, you need to know that the third is just as valuable. For example, an army moves on its stomachs, as the old saying goes. Campaign workers and volunteers basically live on junk food, pizza, and coffee, and anyone who brings in a crockpot of anything healthy and homemade becomes their favorite person.

Art is just as important. Striking graphics, clever memes, and meaningful signs and banners are essential to the visuals that move people to action. Stories are the most compelling tool we have change hearts and minds on an issue, so write about why these things matter so much to you. And if you’re gifted enough to draw, paint, stitch, or craft objects that others might want, you can accomplish more of #4 with your skills.

Pages:1234567...22»