Category: Resources

SwingLeft

SwingLeft home page
SwingLeft home page

SwingLeft connects users with their closest swing congressional district that voted Republican. The site has a specific goal—to turn the district Democrat—but this focus makes it one of the most strategic tools currently available.

The idea is that the voting margin was so narrow that a concerted effort can be made to swing the district left. The site focuses on the House of Representatives, because it perceives the Senate as having a more difficult to contest majority (at least for 2018).

The user can join a passive e-mail list to receive weekly tasks to affect this outcome. The user can alternately or additionally complete a more comprehensive form for volunteer activities.

For issue-minded activists, this may not appear to be the most attractive form of direct action. However, a considerable portion of the government’s impact on citizens (as well as those around the world) comes from the actions of Congress. The House makes policy concrete by passing legislation; the contents of these bills span the whole spectrum of interest groups. For those that are seriously pursuing the impeachment path, please note the House can bring charges against federal officials. Ensuring the right individuals are placed in the House then becomes imperative for any cause.

Advertisements

Holy Fuck The Election

As previously mentioned the wealth of resources for facing the coming Trump administration means there is something for every activist. Clara Beyer’s Holy Fuck is the most aptly-named resource of the bunch (kudos to the melanin in that middle finger emoji), as well as one of the most structurally streamlined and intelligently written.

Users are first asked, “Are You Okay?” to gauge whether some self-help (in the form of puppy & kitten videos, topical coloring books, or inspirational Buzzfeed ‘content’)  is needed or whether one is “ready to fuck shit up.” The latter response feeds into several banner issues that arose during the election cycle: increasing Democrat representation, racism, LGBTQ, misogyny/sexual assault, and climate change. Each topic is sub-divided by whether the user can spare “money” or “time,” and then branches out again to other resources to explore.

The tone of the site strikes a balance of outrage, humor, and compassion, which is helpful for people less familiar or put-off by the language of progressive politics and/or activism.

 

What Do I Do About Trump?

Less than a month after Election 2016 there are already a number of fantastic resources for collecting one’s thoughts, researching issues, and taking concrete steps to plan a full-court press on the coming Trump Administration.

One site that collects a broad range of resources is What Do I Do About Trump?  The site emphasizes individual and collective action. Individuals looking to commit to a document can create a customized action plan via the “Make A Plan” section. Individuals looking to browse different methods of activism can explore the “Get Involved” section, which links to resources ranging from prescribed daily/weekly action listscalling elected officials, interpersonal connections, and more.

Of note is the “Protect Yourself” section on security. There are separate sections based on types of security—web, sexual/gender identity, personal—all of which are worth investigation, regardless of one’s background.

Also worth highlighting is the site’s resources for fostering new collective/group action. The “Inspire Friends” section provides resources for creating “Action Pods” to structure, support, and direct the energies of an individual and a manageable number of loved ones.

Thanks to Marit for sharing this and several other fantastic resources (which will be shared in the coming days)!

Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education

In the rush to explain the outcome of Election 2016, “fake news” has become one of the main front page topics in mainstream media. One response has been to call for censoring such outlets. However, as the Association of Moving Image Archivists’ Board of Directors recently pointed out, the information and library science field’s focus on media literacy can also be a useful tool for everyone on the receiving end of the news.

The AMIA Board’s note calls attention to an article written by Louise Lief. Lief, writing for The Columbia Journalism Review a month prior to the election, suggests that the journalism world take a cue from libraries in promoting information literacy. Lief’s article centers on how journalists can use such tools to improve both their credibility and the quality of their reporting.

The Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRLU)’s Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education outlines one such framework for developing information literacy tools and skills. The Framework is directed at educators and librarians and emphasizes a holistic interrogation of information. A practitioner considers context, process, authority, and value, while using community, communication, and iterative questions to better understanding.

Or, American University’s Public Affairs Librarian Olivia Ivey gives the tl; dr version: “Says who? Based on what authority? What evidence?”

In the academic world, such principles have been used to help combat plagiarism. The media world—and by extension anyone who consumes media—can use these same principles to navigate the deluge of media information.

PDF of the paper here; the ACRL provides a summary here.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Questions to Ask Loved Ones Who Voted the Other Way

The New York Times’ Michael Barbaro hosted The Run-Up podcast to discuss Election 2016 in the weeks leading up to 9 November. Since the election, Barbaro continues to produce episodes that explore the aftermath. Just in time for the late-November holidays when numerous families reunite, the 18 November podcast outlined a script for facilitating potentially difficult conversations with family members who voted differently.

The likelihood of a person memorizing this script or carrying it with them while talking seems low. However, a key takeaway from reading through the nineteen questions is to focus on 1) the relationship between those speaking; 2) one’s feelings about policies and the status of the country; and 3) the impact of those feelings on the relationship between the speakers. The technique is a helpful reminder to stray away from behaving like surrogates for a candidate, but to instead have a conversation about the state of the country while keeping the sanctity of the relationship rooted.

The entire script is on the podcast website, and the podcast itself recorded conversations with pairs of Clinton and Trump voters.

New York City Community Boards

For those interested in becoming more active or knowledgeable members of their community, attending or participating in community board meetings is a useful first step. Local government websites should outline relevant locations and dates; residents of New York City can consult the city’s website.

The “look up your community board” link actually directs the user to the useful NYCityMap tool. Using the Advanced Search function to the right of the map allows the user to quickly drill down to specific buildings (where data is available). Reams of information are included: as granular as specific building ECB violations and tax and property records, to broad information about capital projects, city programs, health facilities, cultural institutions, etc.

Included in an advanced search result is an expandable facet “Neighborhood Information.” In this section is the name of the building’s community district, as well as a link to the district website.

Each district website varies in appearance and navigation, but all should include dates of monthly meetings, along with minutes of past meetings and/or agendas for upcoming meetings.

#StandingRockSyllabus

The NYC Stands with Standing Rock Collective’s#StandingRockSyllabus is both a guide to understanding the current resistance against the Dakota Access Pipeline, as well as a comprehensive resource outlining the connections between indigenous peoples’ rights, colonialism, private property, fossil fuel demand, environmental conservation, and many other concepts.

Twitter users can search the hashtag for a growing number of references. However, NYC Stands with Standing Rock Collective’s site is a rich resource on its own. It includes a number of useful charts and visualizations, as well as PDF versions of the syllabus with and without recommended readings.