Standing Tall

Image by Michael Balint

It is not in numbers, but in unity, that our great strength lies; yet our present numbers are sufficient to repel the force of all the world. ~Thomas Paine, Common Sense (1776)

Have you ever seen a redwood tree? They’re majestic and towering – scraping the sky while standing shoulder to shoulder with fellow redwoods in what feels like impossibly close quarters. In fact, they can get so tall that their circulatory system can’t pump water to the whole tree, so their upper needles have adapted to drink fog right out of the sky. You’d think that anything that can grow that tall would have roots penetrating deep into the earth, wouldn’t you? Something so tall, so heavy, so vulnerable to the wind and the weather must counterbalance its height with roots at long as it is tall, right?


The roots of these trees – which can grow higher than a 30 floor skyscraper – rarely grow more than 12 feet underground. Instead, they spread out laterally – extending over 100 feet from the tree.

And that’s where the secret of their stability lies.

They interlock.

Each tree’s roots interconnect with the roots of neighboring redwoods; those trees hold hands with their neighbors, and so on and so on, such that each tree is connected, one with the other throughout the forest. In our Darwinist dogwood-eat-dogwood worldview, we look at a forest and assume the trees are trying to one-up each other; each is vying for light and air and water, after all – which are valuable resources that diminish with each new member. It stands to reason that the trees would block each other, ensuring they get the most and the best of what nature has to offer.

But rather than competing, they’re connecting.

No one tree ever truly stands alone.

So when the forest floor floods, the mat of roots they have created secures both the strongest and the weakest and keeps all of them solid. And when the gusts of wind come that would otherwise rip a tree from its bed, its neighbors steady its base and keep it grounded. Standing alone they are powerful, majestic, strong. But together? Well. Together they’re invincible.

One might even say they’re indivisible.

So much the same for us, fellow Resisters. There will be days when the winds are so fierce and so violent that any one of us would be toppled. There will be days when the flood is so deep and the water so murky that any one of us would be drowned. And there will be days when we think we just can’t keep standing.

It’s on those days when our greatest strength, our unity, will carry us on.

So, friends.

Let’s hold hands.

Tuesday: Send a Message in a (Pill) Bottle

Just like toddlers, our Representatives are testing their boundaries. There’s word afoot that they are going to try to revive the AHCA this week. *Sigh.*

We need to let them know that their shenanigans have got to stop.

Because we won’t.

It feels like we should do something creative with this second round of protest, doesn’t it? Well, look no further! The folks at Center for American Progress have outdone themselves on this one. To protest the newest attempt to revive Trump-Ryan-Care (or Tr-yan Care… or R-ump Care), CAP will deliver a message to your congressperson… in a pill bottle! Sweet perfection! They’ve made it super easy, too. Go to, fill out a simple online form, personalize your message (if you want to) click “send,” and your message supporting the ACA will be sent in a pill bottle. I can see the boxes of bottles showering down on the GOP already!

While you’re at it, use social media to show your support for the ACA and this super creative action. Take a picture of a pill bottle (minus any personal or identifying information, of course!) and tweet your ACA support to your Representative – with the hashtag #messageinapillbottle. I’m sure the folks at CAP would love to see their hashtag trending!

Wednesday: Ask Tough Questions About the Budget’s Local Impact

First, if all the budget chatter has you wondering what’s staying and what’s going – go here for a graphic depiction of the Trump proposal and an extremely helpful chart of programs that would be eliminated.

Okay, now that we’ve all seen that “disaster” of a proposal – I’ll say what I’ve said a 1,000 times: Trump’s policies almost seem intended to harm his most strident supporters. That’s on full display through the budget’s elimination of the Regional Authorities, whose mission is to jump start areas of economic distress with increased investment, training, job creation, and job retention. I’m talking about the Delta Regional Authority, the Appalachian Regional Commission, and the Northern Border Regional Commission.

The Delta Regional Authority “works to improve regional economic opportunity by helping to create jobs, build communities, and improve the lives of the 10 million people who reside in the 252 counties and parishes of the eight-state Delta region.”And, in fact, the Delta Regional Authority has created over 40,000 jobs.

Its eastern cousin, the Appalachian Regional Commission, has created over 23,000 jobs and has provided training for 49,000 more in 13 states. Their mission? Creating economic opportunity; preparing a ready workforce; building critical infrastructure; leveraging natural and cultural assets; and cultivating leadership and community capacity.

The Northern Border Regional Commission, which, as its name implies, operates in states on the northern border, has a similar mission: “Each year, the NBRC provides Federal funds for critical economic and community development projects throughout the northeast.  These investments lead to new jobs being created and leverages substantial private sector investments.”

Together these regional commissions operate in 20 different states; some states like Alabama are even served by multiple regional authorities.

Call your congressperson (using the script below if it’s helpful). But first, check for your state in the list that I’ve provided at the end of this action; note the investment dollars and jobs that have been created for your state. And then, when you call your congressperson, ask them specifically what they’ll do to replace these very effective, local programs. Their job is to protect their constituents – and if their constituents will lose jobs and infrastructure investment money under this budget they shouldn’t be voting for it.

Then consider contacting your local press and explaining what the potential loss would be in your own community. Roads may not be fixed; jobs will be lost; investments will wither. That’s a story worth covering.

Script: Hello, my name is _____ and I’m a constituent at _____. Is Representative ____ voting for the budget as it stands? I’m sure that Representative ____ understands that this budget eliminates the (Delta Regional Authority/Appalachian Regional Commission/Northern Border Regional Commission). So if he/she is voting for this budget, what is he/she going to do specifically, to replace this investment in our state? How is he/she going to jump start our economy? How is he/she going to provide job training, creation, and retention that matches what we’ll lose if this commission is lost? If he/she cannot answer that question, then he/she cannot vote for this budget.

Thursday: Support the Republican Climate Resolution (no, that wasn’t a typo)

Seventeen brave Republican souls have sponsored H.Res. 195 – a resolution that recognizes that “[i]f left unaddressed, the consequences of a changing climate have the potential to adversely impact all Americans.”

In introductory remarks that could have been made by any Democrat, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) showed that she understands that climate change is a bipartisan problem and requires a bipartisan solution:

Clean energy innovation is critical, and this resolution brings together the priority of addressing the risks of climate change with the importance of protecting and creating American jobs. This resolution calls on American ingenuity, innovation, and exceptionalism, also citing that it is a conservative principle to protect, conserve, and be good stewards of our environment.

No matter what side of the aisle you are on, we all have a significant responsibility to protect our environment from avoidable damage. I ask my colleagues to join in this commitment and support this important resolution.

-Rep. Stefanik, March 16, 2017

Go here to see whether your Rep has sponsored the resolution. If they have, give them a pat on the back! If not, ask for their support. The Citizens’ Climate Lobby has made it really easy for you to send a “thank you” Tweet or e-mail directly to the sponsors, and to ask your GOP reps to sponsor the resolution. So let’s take full advantage!

Friday: Celebrate Arbor Day by Protecting a Redwood Forest!

If you were inspired by the pictures and information about redwoods in this week’s pep talk, consider donating to support the conservation of redwoods. Not only are they beautiful and inspiring – they actually sequester triple the above ground carbon of any other type of tree.

So let’s keep them around, shall we?

Here are a few options to do just that:

Go to The Save the Redwoods League to adopt a single redwood or a redwood grove, or to plant a seedling in someone’s honor.

Donate a few bucks (tax deductible) to the Save the Redwoods’ League’s Mailliard Ranch project – which with 1,000 acres of old-growth redwoods is the “largest expanse of redwood forest still in private family hands”. The project will permanently protect over 14,000 acres – nearly 12,000 of which is redwood and Douglas fir forestland. And if you donate before May 25, your donation will be matched!

If you’d rather donate your time and talents, The Save the Redwoods League also has a variety of volunteer options.

That covers this week’s pep talk and list of actions. If you want one more quick action, send this pep talk to a friend or two!

A huge thank you to everyone who has written. I’m sorry I can’t respond to everyone, but know I really appreciate your words of encouragement.

Lastly, if you’d like to sign up to get this pep talk and action list in your in-box each week, you can do that here!

Thank you, again, for being part of what makes this country amazing.


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