Repo Man Rahm’s Side of Story Prevails at NBC Chicago

Yesterday morning, I saw the news on NBC Chicago’s FB feed that “La Casita,” a community fieldhouse on the property of Whittier Elementary School in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, was in the process of being torn down due to poor condition.
The back story is that the Whittier Parents Committee (WPC), the community/parent group running classes, activities & a library in the fieldhouse, had been meeting with the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) for a few years to work out a solution to both ownership and renovations.   Promises of funding were made by state and local elected and appointed officials, but that never came through. In the mean time, the building continued to deteriorate.

There is some disagreement between the CPS and the community group as to what has transpired in the last few years. You can read more details in the best article I have found, in Chicago Catalyst (whose mission is “independent reporting on urban education”).

But, a couple things are indisputable:  The building was in bad shape AND the CPS arrived unexpectedly in the middle of the night and tore the building down less than 12 hours after clearing out the fieldhouse the night before.

Also, in 2010, then-CPS CEO Ron Huberman acquiesced to the community’s demands, pledging the field house would not be demolished. In 2011, Huberman’s successor, Jean-Claude Brizard, reaffirmed that promise in a letter to Whittier parents.

As I re-read NBC Chicago‘s article, this statement, from a CPS press release, caught my attention: “A CPS spokeswoman said the WPC never signed the $1 lease agreement to begin renovations on the building and did not take any steps to bring the building up to code.”

That sounded incredulous, given the Whittier community’s fight up until this point. There was no rebuttal from the WPC.

Suddenly, a vision of Ms. Sherer, my high school journalism teacher who supervised our editing of the newspaper, appeared:  “Where is the response from the WPC representative to CPS’ claims?”  “Where is the balanced approach to reporting a story?”

I immediately found the phone number for the WPC and called.  Their leader, Gema Gaete, answered. She told me that yes, the CPS offered a contract, but it was set up for failure – it required the WPC to pay all the bills, and if they were even a day late, the CPS would have eminent domain.  CPS never responded to their counter-offer. Also, she said, it was CPS’ responsibility to keep the building up to code, not theirs. She invited me to the vigil that was being held later that day.  

026 cropped

Whittier Elementary schoolchildren watch their community center being demolished by Chicago Public Schools, witnessing a “crime scene.”

Because Pilsen is a largely Hispanic neighborhood on Chicago’s west side that is less affluent and less white than most northside communities, my immediate questions upon learning the news were:  If this fieldhouse had been in Lincoln Park (an affluent neighborhood), would this fieldhouse been allowed to deteroriate in the first place, and would children have other options for extracurricular activities?  Why do more than 160 Chicago Public Schools have no library?  Why has the state never seriously considered funding schools through income tax, rather than property tax, something that’s been advocated by many better government groups for a long time?


City of Chicago’s demo crew, with the promise of “breaking into the future.”

By the time I arrived in Pilsen, the vigil was over, but the demolition crew was busy working, as it had been since 9:30 a.m. La Casita was completely leveled and there was virtually no evidence it ever existed. Families, other supporters and members of the WPC were still there, some being interviewed by media outlets.

A couple I spoke with, one of them a teacher at another nearby school, told me a few other things I had not seen in local media yet:

  • CPS officials showed up at the door of La Casita, around 5 p.m. Friday, while a class was in progress. They told the participants that they needed to vacate, and CPS collected the community center’s property, including their library & said they would store it for them, but did not tell them where.
  • Alderman Danny Solis told his consituents he would meet with them and the CPS representatives the next day, but he was a no-show.  When CPS showed up at Whittier around 9 a.m., they immediately started directing the demolition.  (Solis is among the 21 “rubber stamp” alder-creatures – as Mike Royko referred to them – who has NEVER voted against Mayor Rahm.)
  • The basketball court & playground the CPS promises to build in its place is actually for the nearby private, Jesuit Cristo Rey High School. CPS says the Whittier students may use it occasionally.

    I also got a chance to speak with the NBC reporter on the scene.  I told her I was motivated to attend by her network’s lack of journalistic integrity.  She surmised that the writers of the online version worked from a CPS press release.  I appreciated her candid response and told her that this is a perfect example of why people like me, who have critical thinking skills and an understanding of the role of journalists in society do not follow mainstream media outlets like hers.

040 - croppedAs I was leaving & the police re-opened the street, an ice cream truck entered the street and stopped for some eager customers – its familiar music & beckon to “smile all day” temporarily distracting from the screeching and clunking sounds of the bulldozers – the poignancy most likely lost on the city’s demo crew.  


Wisconsin Law Enforcement Kills Fawn, Fails to Protect Women

On October 21, 2012, an abusive, dangerous Wisconsin man was able to kill his wife and 2 of her coworkers at the spa at which they worked, after receiving a 4-year restraining order and demand to turn in all firearms, because law enforcement did not raid his home to get those firearms, and Wisconsin has no background check on guns purchased from private dealers.  This was the 2nd mass shooting  in the southeast part of Wisconsin in as many months.

Earlier this week, Wisconsin armed agents raided an animal shelter and killed a fawn, one day before she was to be released to a nearby wildlife preserve, all because the shelter was violating the law by having the one deer.   “It was like a SWAT team,” shelter employee Ray Schulze told WISN 12 News.

Fawn killed in July 2013 by Wisconsin DNR agents in raid of Wisconsin animal shelter

Fawn killed July 2013 by Wisconsin DNR agents in raid of Wisconsin animal shelter

“Funny,” the local police didn’t seem much concerned with stopping a dangerous man from killing his wife and other women as they were about an innocent deer and going after a charitable organization that’s struggling to stay afloat.

What kind of country is this that this is how our tax dollars are being used? To kill deer, but not protect women and children in our communities???

Follow up:
I posted this on DailyKos’ article, which highlights the big picture, and received the most “likes” I probably have ever received for a post. DailyKos reminds us of the militarization of our police forces, and a host of related issues.

This story has gone viral around the world.

Tourists might be reconsidering visiting Wisconsin right now…Here is a photo courtesy of Jenna Pope, activist/photojournalist, of a woman visiting from Tucson almost arrested in the Wisconsin’s State Capitol Building – for stopping to watch a group of citizens peacefully singing, as part of Solidarity Sing Along, while visiting the capitol earlier this week.

Wisconsin Capitol Police threaten to arrest Tucson tourist - for observing Solidarity Sing Along

Wisconsin Capitol Police threaten to arrest Tucson tourist – for observing Solidarity Sing Along

She said she couldn’t get arrested because she is from out of town, and decided to leave the building instead. The sing along has been happening every week day since March 2011, but last week, Capitol Police began declaring it an unlawful assembly and have been arresting participants and even tourists who are observing.

Yes, she was nearly arrested for observing others singing, and yes, she was a tourist.

Wisconsin Law Enforcement Kills Fawn, Fails to Protect Women

Boycott Amazon Over “The Ex” Shooting Target Mannequin on Their Site


UPDATE 2:45 p.m. Central Time – Within 3 hours of my letter and call to Amazon (and who knows how many others):  

Now, we need to make sure they permanently delete it and stop carrying it altogether.  

This is a good day for activists, my friends – Savor it!!!!  

Here is the letter I just sent to Amazon’s Public Relations Department, after signing Ultra Violet’s petition expressing outrage over a shooting target mannequin named the “The Ex,” a large-breasted woman who bleeds when shot, that is being sold on It’s manufactured by Zombie Industries, a company that was featured at the NRA convention last weekend.

Although this image is highly disturbing to me, maybe it’s even more so because the mannequin has dark hair like I do.

You can also contact Amazon’s P.R. Department by phone:
(206) 266-7180

My letter to Amazon’s P.R. Department & review:
“Here is my review I just sent to you re: Zombie Industries’ “The Ex” target practice.  I will be watching to see if this is posted.  And, if you’d like to review my account, you’ll see I’m a loyal Amazon customer.

I also follow and write for online publications, and the fact that this was displayed at the NRA Convention and that you carry it is getting a lot of traction in the media right now.

Until you remove this dangerous item from your site, I will be removing my $$$ from your coffers.  And, so will thousands of other women like me.

Sincerely, Laura Sabransky”

My Review:
“Especially with Mother’s Day coming up, knowing that you still have this on your site, Amazon, is highly upsetting and disturbing to me.

Women hold the majority of jobs in our country and we have the buying power. That means we have the buying power to decide whether you even exist in the market, Amazon.

I buy a great deal from your site, but will stop until this is removed. And so will thousands of other women.

Every minute you keep this up on your site is another minute you have blood on your hands – as you contribute to the huge domestic violence problem in our country. Women living in violent households where there is even one gun ARE 500 TIMES MORE LIKELY TO BE KILLED. Yes, you read that correctly – 500 times.

Take this down, Amazon – NOW.”

Testimony at EPA Public Hearing on Vehicle Pollution Standards

Sierra Club at EPA hearingOn April 29 I provided the following testimony to the EPA at one of two public hearings held – the other in Philadelphia – on their proposed standards to lessen vehicle pollution.   I was honored to be asked by the Chicago Group of the Sierra Club and to be able to hear others’ moving and compelling testimony.  The EPA representatives were gracious and attentive listeners.  Early in the day, a number of car manufacturers testified in favor of the standards as well.

“Thank you for holding public hearings on the Tier 3 Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standards Program.

My name is Laura Sabransky.  I live in the city of Chicago, and I have asthma.   I urge the EPA to enact the long overdue standards that will clean up gasoline and reduce smog-forming pollution from cars and light trucks.  I am a volunteer and have never been paid for my decades of advocacy work.

I grew up in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, adjacent to O’Hare airport, surrounded by major highways and expressways, and home to the largest industrial park in the United States.  While planes flew directly overhead five minutes apart, plumes of black smoke hovered over my backyard.

Toyko walkway

Not surprisingly, when my 8th grade science teacher asked us to design a futuristic community, I created a suburban downtown featuring interconnecting above-ground pedestrian walkways that took the place of sidewalks.

Because the air – in my vision of the future – would be too polluted to breathe safely.

In 1993, I was diagnosed with asthma.  Since then I have spent – conservatively – $15,000 of my own money – on prescription medications, devices and medical procedure and visit co-pays, to manage this chronic respiratory condition.  The amount would be much higher if I was uninsured.

Last summer, during record hot temperatures, I traveled to Milwaukee to volunteer for Tom Barrett’s campaign.   I hesitated to make the trip, because I had recently been out of breath from routine outdoor activities.

In Milwaukee, I felt great while walking up hilly streets and stairs of 80 homes for six hours, marveling at the clear, blue sky.  Upon emerging from Chicago’s Amtrak station, however, I noticed that the sky was brownish-grayish.  After walking a half block, my lungs felt tight.  The next day, I had the same experience.  I then realized for the first time, the problem was not me – it was the polluted Chicago air I’m breathing!

During the ensuing record number of Air Quality Action Days with high Ozone, I experienced sharp pains in my lungs, even when I stayed inside all day.  Two medical specialists had no answers on how to address this.

And, I am not alone. 132 million people in the U.S. still live in counties that have unhealthy levels of either ozone or particle pollution, which equates to more than 4 in 10 people.[i]

According to the most recent asthma data for Chicago:[ii]

  • The asthma hospitalization rate is nearly double the national average.
  •  Up to 40% of asthmatics limit daily activities.
  • Death rates from asthma are 4 to 6 times higher for African Americans and Hispanics than for Caucasians.

Particularly relevant to today’s hearing is that:

  • New medical research concludes that poor air quality associated with busy roads can cause asthma.[iii]
  • Neighborhoods with the highest rate of asthma are near Chicago’s congested highways.  On this map, the red areas indicating the highest asthma rates are clustered around highways.[iv]
  • In 2011, Chicago had the most traffic congestion in the nation.[v]

If one was putting together a formula to ensure that more people suffer and die from asthma and other respiratory conditions, really, it would be difficult to top the one that’s been perfected in Chicago.

The future I envisioned in 8th grade as mostly science fiction – is upon us.

Still, there are organizations like the American Petroleum Institute trying to change the discussion from health and survival by warning of disputable negative consequences if the EPA’s regulations are enacted.

What many people don’t realize is that for decades – companies that profit from poisoning the air we breathe, water we drink and food we eat – have been writing laws that make it easier for them to commit toxic trespass upon us.  And in fact, these laws are being sponsored by many of our lawmakers who see their role less as problem-solvers than profiteers.

Laws restricting states from low-carbon fuel standards programs,[vi] preventing EPA regulation of dirty coal products,[vii] and protecting companies that commit lead poisoning,[viii] to name a few of the hundreds of anti-public health and environment protection laws, are written by corporations and organizations, and sponsored by lawmakers who belong to secret groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

I’m here to tell you that many of us believe we can no longer depend on our elected officials to protect us from the toxic trespasses that threaten our health and lives.

To quote Elizabeth Edwards:
“Those who need a champion cannot afford compromise, in the face of forces that are powerful, persistent, and pernicious and greedy.”

We citizens depend on the EPA to protect us, and we are depending on the EPA to enact the Tier 3 Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standards Program.”

[i] American Lung Association, State of the Air Report 2013

[ii] Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago Fact Sheet, various sources

 [iii] European Respiratory Journal, 2013

 [iv] Chicago Initiative to Raise Asthma Equity Study: “Childhood Asthma Prevalence in Chicago Is Associated with Living Close to Highways” 2009

 [v] Urban Mobility Report, 2010

 [vi]Restrictions on Participation in Low-Carbon Fuel Standards Programs,” Approved by ALEC Board of Directors on January 28, 2013.

 [vii] “Intrastate Coal and Use Act,” Approved by ALEC Board of Directors on January 28, 2013.

 [viii] “Voluntary Childhood Lead Exposure Control Act,” Approved by ALEC Board of Directors on December, 1998.

Be Vigilant without Resorting to Vigilantism

During Governor Deval Patrick‘s press conference the day after the Boston Marathon bombing, one of the law enforcement officials said that is it up to average people to be aware of their environment and report any suspicious activities or behavior.  I wholeheartedly concur.

A year ago, I spotted a pristine Apple bag bag sitting on a train platform.  As I approached, thinking “ooh, wonder if there’s an iPad inside?”  my thought quickly changed to “if I was going to leave a weapon in the hopes of getting someone to pick it up, putting it in an Apple bag would be a good idea.”  I immediately went downstairs and told the transit authority attendant and she acted on it right away.

Vigilant_magnifying glass

Photo by Rafael Anderson Gonzales Mendoza

Maybe you don’t want to spend your time while in public thinking like a criminal, but I’ll bet you would find this preferable to continuing to endure the violence we experience every day, much less the rarer acts like what occurred at the Boston Marathon this week.

Some doubt their instincts and don’t say anything because they might be embarrassed about being wrong.  I prefer being wrong 100 times for every one time I’m right, rather than ignoring potentially dangerous people and situations.

Be vigilant. Watch people and what they’re doing and their behavior.  If you have even an ounce of suspicion, call the police.  This includes abuse toward children and animals.

There are not enough police or FBI agents to handle the violence in our country.  It is up to us to help prevent violence in all its forms.

And, this is not a call to arms or becoming a vigilante – simply about increasing your awareness and taking action by calling authorities who are prepared to investigate and handle criminal acts.

The Largest Environmental Action in U.S. History – and I Was There

Lynn Hasselberger, Green Page Editor of Elephant Journal, posted some great photos and account of the “Forward on Climate” rally and march on 2/17  in Washington, D.C.  just a day after we participated along with an estimated 40,000 others.  And here, I haven’t even posted anything on Activist’s Diary about it until now.

When Ellen Gunter, eco-spirituality author and asked me why I went, in an interview she did with me for a related Elephant Journal article, I said “Well, should we start with my 8th grade science teacher, Mr. Kahn, who, during the height of the 1970s environmental movement, assigned us the project of building futuristic communities that could sustain the portended damages wrought upon our surroundings?”

My son & I before the march. NO KXL in lipstick. (Note: No, that's not real fur.) Photo taken (and lipstick provided) by Laura Sabransky

Lynn & her son before the march. NO KXL in lipstick. (Note: No, that’s not real fur.) Photo taken (and lipstick provided) by Laura Sabransky

“Or, should I mention my college environmental science professor, whose glint in his eye while discussing overpopulation motivated me to move to Washington D.C. in the mid-80s to take an uppaid internship with National Audubon’s International Population Program?”

Instead, I said, “Let’s just fast-forward to a couple months ago, when I saw the award-winning documentary, “Chasing Ice,” and vowed that I would participate in the next major, organized effort to bring the critical issues surrounding climate change to the fore.”

As of April 2, President Obama has not made a public announcement about whether he will approve or reject the Keystone XL pipeline.

In the mean time:
~ The State Department has issued an report,  funded partially by oil companies that is not truthful about the negative environmental impact of the pipeline;
~ The strictest smog pollution standards in our history were passed by the EPA, and
~ Over the weekend, Exxon’s Pegasus pipeline, which can carry more than 90,000 barrels per day of crude, was shut down after it leaked untold thousands of barrels of oil near the town of Mayflower, Arkansas.


“We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.” ~ President Barack Obama

Every day that passes is another day that Keystone XL goes unapproved, and another opportunity for us to tell the State Department and President Obama that you are among the majority of citizens who understand that human actions are creating climate chaos, and you want President Obama to stand by his words that he will put people before politics when it comes to the future of our planet.

Read and see more in Lynn’s article, published in Elephant Journal,
February 18, 2013

I’ve Resisted Being Labeled, Until Now – Elephant Journal Article

Published in Elephant Journal, 3/13/2013

Chicago rally in support of unions and all workers of Wisconsin, in the wake of Governor Walker's dismantling of laws protecting workers' rights.

Chicago rally in support of unions and all workers of Wisconsin, in the wake of Governor Walker’s dismantling of laws protecting workers’ rights.

I. Am. An. Activist.

If ever you think your voice is not being heard, keep in mind that there are those who oppose your efforts who know otherwise.

Post-protest, predictably anti-climactic feelings in the wake of making history, at the Forward on Climate Rally in Washington, D.C. two weeks ago, have set in. Like an endorphin-seeking Pavlov’s dog, I interrupt washing clothes on a day off to glance over at my iPad when the ding of a message arriving reaches my ears. I am back in my routine.

When Lynn Hasselberger asked about my thoughts on activism and how we can stay energized and focused on moving forward, I began to think about the nature of activism and realized that for me, it has become more than actions, behavior or lifestyle, but also identity.

I have created many arts and crafts items throughout my life. Whenever someone says, “Oh, you’re an artist, then?” My answer is tentative and maybe a bit defensive, along the lines of “Well, I create things. If you want to call me an artist, you can,” because I resist labels.

Mosaic of glass, smalti and slate, based on an aerial image of the BP oil spill in 2010.  Created by Laura.

Mosaic of glass, smalti and slate, based on an aerial image of the BP oil spill in 2010. Created by Laura.

But, when it comes to activism, I’ve realized in the last few years—especially since joining social media and re-discovering my diary from age 13 (documenting my willingness to raise attention to injustice and wrongdoing in my community)— that I’ve been an advocate and an activist my whole life, and have even started to embrace this identity and label.

Last week, I was standing in the shadow of the Washington Monument, cheering on the environmental justice leaders of our time, marching with forty thousand more—among banners, drums and chants in front of the White House. But, more often, my attempts to advocate are singular and perceptibly smaller, like this 30 second encounter on an elevator:

Banner Laura made for Sierra Club Illinois and carried in the "Forward on Climate Change" rally and march in Washington D.C. on February 17.  Also pictured:  Jeff Green.

Banner I made for Sierra Club Illinois and carried in the “Forward on Climate Change” rally and march in Washington D.C. on February 17. Also pictured: Jeff Green.

Stranger: I’m so glad we’re not going to have much snow this winter. I like these warmer temperatures.

Me: Actually, it’s bad for the environment if we don’t have enough moisture accumulate during the winter.

Stranger: Oh?

Me: You know those forest fires that happened last summer? That was a result of lack of snow. And the droughts we’re beginning to see? These are the results of our global temperatures climbing to harmful levels, brought on by human activity.”

Stranger: Oh, I guess I never looked at it that way before.

 The least movement is of importance to all nature. The entire ocean is affected by a pebble.

– Blaise Pascal, Philosopher, 1623-1662

The immediate impact of my actions, big or small, does not necessarily figure into my motivation to understand issues and engage in trying to influence, inform and inspire.

My most rewarding experiences have been to emerge victorious after engaging in large organized efforts among thousands or millions of citizens, as well as friends and acquaintances reminding me that whenever I speak or act, I do so upon their behalf, and I inspire them to engage further.

 I am only one, but still I am one.

I cannot do everything,

but still I can do something;

and because I cannot do everything,

I will not refuse to do

something that I can do.

– Helen Keller

Transformational change begins with imagination and is ignited by action. If you’re under 60 years old, like me, your experience of our country’s major social movements is through the lens of history. The suffrage movement lasted 70 years—at least a lifetime, I remind myself. The suffragists, like the founders of our country, imagined a different world—a better one than the one in which they lived. They acted upon their vision, and continued to act.

On every front, reproductive and environmental justice, human and civil rights, we are now living in dramatic historical times—on the precipice of and in the middle of change. I am but one of the ingredients in this bubbling primordial soup of transformation—indeed, enlightenment. There is balance between the impact of my actions as an individual and among the collective, and each is powerful. I realize that today, I cannot possibly have perspective on what it all means or what will come of it in the future—so, I act.

 History is always the missing part of the puzzle in everything we do.

~ Ai Weiwei, on his art piece “Fragment.”

Especially during the last few years, even the most committed among us have experienced frustration and feelings of futility, wondering if we’re making a difference—as well as fear.

I was surprised to learn, while speaking at a reproductive justice rally, that some attendees were concerned about losing their jobs because of the public exposure.

Because I came of age working alongside sage and strident activists with the League of Women Voters, organizing rapid response protests and grassroots mobilizations prior to social media or even email, the fact that perceived and real risks are now inherently connected to engagement, hadn’t occurred to me. So, while we engage in the struggle for a just, humane and sustainable world, we also struggle to become, develop as and remain activists.

Handmade lanterns float on the bay at Berkeley's annual Peace Lantern Ceremony, in remembrance of the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima. I helped coordinate the event in 2005.

Handmade lanterns float on the bay at Berkeley’s annual Peace Lantern Ceremony, in remembrance of the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima. I helped coordinate the event in 2005.

 What’ your place, role and identity as activist? I offer these ideas for moving forward and remaining grounded:

1. Get comfortable with the fact that among an average group of people, you are the subject matter expert on issues you are passionate about and have researched. “Connect the dots” for others.

We understand the gestalt of issues, the interconnectedness, among seemingly disparate parts of a system, organic or contrived. You are a leader in helping people understand how their lives are affected by issues that appear abstract.

2. Assess your current skills and interests, as well as those you want to develop, in regard to being a volunteer activist: maybe you’re a researcher by nature and have no interest in attending or organizing events.

3. Engage your personality traits.

I am on the fence between introvert and extrovert. I can gain energy by writing while alone, but am often on social media networks and also need be recharged by committee meetings, group projects and events occasionally.

4. Define what you consider to be activism, and consider it life-sustaining daily exercise.

I realized that my frequent Facebook posts and comments that contained simply opinion (even if well-received) is not what I consider to be activism. I feel that social media is best used to motivate others to act, whether providing background information, serving as example or providing vehicles to do so, such as petitions and contact information. Most people don’t like to write as much as me, I’ve learned. I often post the communication I just sent a lawmaker, to help them feel more comfortable doing the same.

5. What’s your story as it relates to issues you are concerned about? Tell it and don’t stop testifying.

I have asthma and allergies. I mention that when communicating with lawmakers about pollution controls. I remind them that in my city, children are hospitalized and die from asthma at a greater rate than any other in the nation.

6. Find well-respected organizations and informal groups related to the issues you want to work on. Get involved locally, if you can, but at the very least, respond to organizations’ calls for action, and let others know when you have, and ask them to do the same.

7. Find, or create, a community of activists and discover and engage mentors. I’ve had the good fortune of organically being exposed to amazing activists. Seeking them out seems like a good idea too.

8. Devise your personal strategy and tactics. What is the most efficient use of your time?

I made a conscience decision, based on research, that it’s more effective to appeal to progressives who have a propensity for action than to try to convince those whose views are rigidly regressive. I will occasionally discuss with and persuade reasonable people, but overall, understand it’s more labor-intensive. I also pick the “low hanging fruit.” Virtually not a day goes by that I don’t sign a petition, post a message, send an email or make a phone call on issues/policies/laws of concern. It’s easy and takes very little time.

 9. Global or local? Many policies that directly affect you are local. You have a better chance to meet with even federal policymakers in their district offices. Engage with organizations working on local issues and meet with your local lawmakers to discuss them. The fact that you took the time to meet with them and know about an issue affecting your community has a positive impact.

10. Remember that every time you act, you act on behalf of others who believe exactly as you do.

Depending on the size of the district you live in, for instance, every time you call your congressperson, you represent potentially hundreds or thousands of constituents. When you’re part of a mobilized effort, your voice is amplified even further. If ever you think your voice is not being heard, keep in mind that there are those who oppose your efforts who know otherwise.

Laura SabranskyLaura Sabransky’s advocacy for a more just, humane and sustainable world has been as volunteer – serving on boards, organizing and working events, launching grassroots activism campaigns, participating in demonstrations and writing to and for those who influence change. Her work with a variety of non-profit organizations includes volunteer management and education, special events organizing, fundraising and communications. Her degrees are in Psychology and Interior Design. Your contributions are welcome on her You can connect with Laura on Facebook and twitter @mysticagitator.

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Assistant Ed: Evan Livesay/Ed: Lynn Hasselberger

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