You’re Part of The Community of Helpers

People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing. That’s why we recommend it daily. ~Zig Zigler

Today has been one of those days that slips through your fingers like so many grains of sand. A blink of an eye ago I woke up. And yet, here I am and it’s already early(ish) evening.

Sometimes that happens, you know. (I know you know.)

But the things I was busy with today are all the things that keep us going. Meeting with people who are doing the good work, and hearing from candidates that are out there extending their hand, and doing all the busy things behind the scenes that keep the trains running on time. You know, just an average (though busy) day.

I came to a realization today, though.

This morning I sat across the table from a woman who has made it her life’s purpose to find and fix problems that she sees going on in rural Missouri. To say she’s a force of nature is an understatement. She’s the woman who knows everyone, helps everyone, speaks the truth (always) and never minces words. I can’t help myself but tell the truth, she says.

She thought Democrats needed to hear more about what’s going on in rural parts of the state, and rural people needed to see that Democrats are interested in listening. So she did something about it.

She organized a bus trip for Democratic state legislators. And during that bus trip they heard from rural Democrats about the unique infrastructure needs for rural communities (public transportation is completely nonexistent, and internet access is terrible outside the city limits); they saw firsthand the state of rural schools and stood in front of the now-shuttered hospital. They got to read the tacked-up sign on the hospital front door that directs anyone with a serious medical emergency to the next hospital 17 miles away, in another state.

They got to hear all of that. See all of that. Experience all of that. Because of her.

And as they were in the bus, she could hear them thinking aloud about how they could solve some of these problems during the next session. She got their wheels turning.

That’s power.

Then this afternoon I spoke with another woman. This one is a candidate. And as we were going through all of the projects that she’s worked on in her community – just as a regular citizen – it occurred to me that she, too, is a person who finds problems, investigates, seeks solutions and then finds a way to make them happen.

She learned that kids who used wheelchairs at her son’s school couldn’t play during recess because the playgrounds weren’t accessible. While other kids played, they’d be forced to sit on the sidelines, parked at the top of the hill overlooking the playground. And there they would remain, for the 20 minute recess, watching their classmates laugh and play and develop stronger friendships while they were left out.

It broke her heart.

So she did something about it. And because of her work pushing the school system and advocating for these kids, the district has made every last playground in the district accessible.

She gave me example after example of things she’s lobbied for (or against) just as part of her everyday life.

There were so many examples, in fact, that I had to ask her about it.

I see a pattern here, I said. You see things that need to be done or problems that need solving, and you just get to work. A lot of people wait for someone else to take over, but you don’t. Why?

I thought perhaps there was some experience that she had as a kid. Maybe there was a flashpoint that made her recognize the power that she could wield, just by being an engaged and passionate citizen.

She paused and laughed and seemed to shrug it off, likely because I took her off guard and women are traditionally not so great at accepting compliments that aren’t directed at our appearance.

She didn’t have some magic moment, as it turns out. She just enjoys helping.

And then my thoughts turned to you.

Because every person who reads Small Deeds – every person who does just a little bit every day, who remains engaged and committed – is part of this group of people who is actively working on solutions, rather than just talking about them.

It’s humbling to be able to have conversations with doers like you all over the country every week. Because what we do – what you do – matters.

You know, there’s a famous Mr. Rogers story about how when he was a little child and saw scary things in the news, his mother directed him: Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.

In this national disaster, we’re surrounded by people who are helping.

We are people who are helping.

Thank you for everything you do, every day. I see you.

Let’s get to work.


Actions for the Week of October 14, 2019

Tuesday: Speak Out for Our Allies

I know Tuesday is basically over (Gah!) but please-please-please fit in a call to your Senators this week to keep the pressure on them. They have enabled this administration to literally trash our foreign policy, and by abandoning our allies to kill or displace tens of thousands of people. It’s a humanitarian disaster of Trump’s making, and we need to be clear that we see their cowardice in holding him accountable.

Script: Hi, my name is ___ and I’m a constituent at ___. I’m calling because I am livid that this administration has turned its back on our Kurdish allies. This is more than a blunder – it’s a complete disaster. The Senator may have spoken out about this, but what is his/her plan of action? What is your office doing right now to show the world that America’s word is still good?

Wednesday: Who Won the Debate? (Trick Question)

Tuesday night is the next debate for the 2020 Democratic candidates for president. Of course we’ve got lots of polling, lots of news reports about who’s up and who’s down – and there are a lot of eyes upon this race for very good reason.

But even though I’ve got my favorite, I will back whomever the Democratic party nominates.

I’m not only going to be voting for them – I’ll campaign for them. Again, even if they aren’t my favorite.

We have to win this election by a landslide, folks. We have to absolutely crush it to show the world that this was a blip. This election is the most consequential election of our lives, and we need to get ready for it – starting now.

That’s why I’m part of a project called Dump Trump, (www.itstarts.today/dumptrump) which is a unique fund that supports the 2020 Democratic nominee. It’s unique because it sends your support immediately when whichever candidate gets the delegates they need to win the nomination.

Other funds benefitting the 2020 nominee wait until our nominee is named at the convention. But traditionally there’s a gap of weeks or months between when a candidate gets the delegates they need to be the “presumptive” nominee – and when the nominee is officially named at the convention. So while our nominee (who will be resource-depleted after the primary fight) patiently waits for party support to come, Trump (and Russians) get weeks or months of free shots.

Basically, they’re a sitting duck.

So wiring support from regular grassroots folks like you and me to whichever candidate wins immediately when they win gives them money to fight back – and to tide them over until the party support can kick in. So if you can, chip in $10, $5 – even $1 a month to the fund that will send your support directly to the nominee right when they need it the most. www.itstarts.today/dumptrump

(And full disclosure – yes, I’m the Executive Director of the organization that created Dump Trump. But I wouldn’t share something I don’t very strongly believe will make a huge difference.)

Join today at www.itstarts.today/dumptrump

Thursday: You Should Run for Something!

Run for Something has put out an AH-MAH-ZING resource that shows you what offices you can run for in your own community. All you need to do is enter your name and address, and it will show you all the offices that are up for election in your area – down to dog catcher. https://www.wherecanirun.org

You might be surprised at some of the offices that are up for election. So if you’ve ever been at the ballot box scratching your head and saying “Hmm. I didn’t even know that was an elected office…” then this is the resource for you!

Share with friends that might be interested in running for office – or just so they can see what offices will be on the ballot.

Friday: Fight Food Waste

The survey you all filled out a few weeks ago (thank you again!) showed that y’all want more climate actions! So I’ve been hyper-focused on finding meaningful and unique ways we can help save the planet.

This week, food waste! If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases. And there are some estimates that 1/3 of food produced ends up being wasted. So this is something we can all tackle.

For starting in your own kitchen, I love the ideas (and the recipes) at Love Food Hate Waste, https://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/recipes, an organization in the UK that focuses on food waste. They have all the info you need about how best to store your food, how to freeze things the right way, and how to organize yourself to throw away less food.

But I also love a super simple idea that you can take to your kids’ school. Share tables are tables of food/drinks that the kids haven’t opened or eaten but that can be shared with other kids to eat right then or save for later. The USDA supports them, and many schools have implemented them!

It’s as easy as asking your school administrators if they have a share table – and if not, why not!

Check out this helpful one-pager for more information: https://furtherwithfood.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Policy-guidance-for-Share-Tables-in-the-National-School-Lunch-Program.pdf

And this resource will help you see the legislative framework for creating a share table and pilot programs to reduce food waste. http://www.farmtoschool.org/Resources/Sharing_the_Table_A_Roadmap_to_Reducing_and_Recovering_Surplus_Food_in_K12_Schools.pdf

We can make sure all kids have enough to eat WHILE reducing food waste. Win-win!


WHEW! GO, TEAM! SUPER PROUD OF YOU!

P.S.: Why don’t you make someone’s day and send this pep talk to a friend or two? I bet they need it.

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. Welcome, friend!

P.P.S.: If you want to help support this work you can do so via Patreon at
https://www.patreon.com/smalldeedsdone or via paypal at https://www.paypal.me/smalldeeds
My deepest gratitude in advance.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. I read and respond to every e-mail. (Really! I really do!) We’re in this together. Don’t you forget it.

Have a thought? A small deed to suggest? Share it here!

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