Life is going to give you just what you put into it. Put your whole heart in everything you do. ~Maya Angelou
It all started as a simple petition asking our governor to follow dozens of other states (including our neighboring red, midwestern ones) and make teachers eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine now.
It’s ridiculous, really, that they’re not. In a state with no statewide mask mandate, high community transmission and a strong preference for in-person instruction, it’s common sense to make the vaccine available to teachers. Heck, even the CDC’s vaccine task force put teachers in the first tier of vaccinations, alongside firefighters and police officers.
But, as usual, the state I live in (Missouri) decided not to follow the experts, and now our teachers are still waiting for the vaccine. (Of course, everyone – even those who are eligible – are waiting for the vaccine. But that’s a separate issue.)
The petition got a few names. A few shares. A few comments. It was … fine.
But then a friend and wonderful organizer texted me and said – “Hey, what if you made that petition into hearts?”
“Hearts. Like, we cut out a paper heart for every person who signs the petition. We put their name on the heart, and then we give them all to the Governor in a huge clear box. You know, so he’ll ‘have a heart.'”
Of course, immediately after we updated the petition, it started to fly through activist groups and teacher communities, getting far more support than it otherwise would have. It’s also been great fun to cut out hearts and add names to them. Sometimes my 8-year-old helps, and his handiwork is adorably effective, if I do say so.
It made me realize that I need to take a bit of my own medicine.
See, we’ve fine tuned a lot of things over the past four+ years. Some things have become almost second nature. But because we’re used to doing things a certain way now … we’re used to doing things a certain way now.
That was my blind spot.
I didn’t take the opportunity to be creative. The very second my friend suggested turning signatures into paper hearts, a symbol that shows our appreciation and support for teachers while making it clear our governor needs to “have a heart,” the focus of the entire project was crystallized.
And the people who signed the petition are no longer text signatures on a white page.
They are hearts – jumbled up and joined together with thousands of others in a colorful display of love and support.
You know, a few years back, I was amazed at the creativity that I saw in the activist community. Glitter bombs … and die ins … and stoplight street dances … the Monopoly Guy! … and who can forget the baby Trump blimp?
And yet, even though I am a superfan of creative organizing, I had been a little dejected that my petition (on a really important issue!) wasn’t getting the attention I thought it deserved.
That is … until I put a little bit of heart in it. (Both figuratively and literally.)
True, it’s been a lot of work cutting out hearts, organizing other people to do so, and setting up delivery. It’s far more work than just delivering a petition of a few thousand signatures. But I’m so much more proud of this result. I’m excited about it. Giddy, in fact.
I can’t wait to see thousands of paper hearts, all together in a clear box, ready to be delivered to our Governor.
Will it change his mind? Maybe. Knowing him, probably not.
But it will be visible proof to teachers and activists across the state that so many (so, so many!) people care. That is important. And that is powerful.
All because we put a little more creativity into it.
I know you put so much of yourself into the work you do. I don’t want you to come away from this conversation and think not being super creative all the time is somehow “not doing it right.”
But I do think we can refresh things a bit by allowing a bit more personality to show in this work. Give ourselves permission to be more creative, and have some fun. Because truly, this has been fun.
Now that I’ve had a taste of it, I’m ready for more. I’m already dreaming up what’s next.
Let’s get to work.
Actions for the Week of February 23, 2021
Tuesday: Tell Missouri’s Governor to Have a Heart
I can’t tell you about this action and not give you an opportunity to take part, can I? Sign your name here, and know that tonight I’ll be cutting out a paper heart and writing your name on it. I look forward to it! Join HERE.
Wednesday: All Hands Organizing Meeting
I’m always looking for new organizations that are bringing people together in interesting ways. Wednesday, you can join Right to Health Action for an All Hands meeting on Wednesday at 8:30pm (eastern). Right to Health Action is using COVID-19 as a springboard to talk about all kinds of health care policy issues – which is excellent. Using the current crisis as a jumping off point (and not waiting until it’s “over”) gives policies a focal point – and gives people who are newly activated because of COVID a great place to land.
Check them out during this one-hour meeting, where they will be detailing what we need to do for a pandemic free future and mobilize to win the People’s Pandemic Prevention Plan.
From their event page:
This event is for people who are new to Right to Health Action and activists who are already involved in our work. You’ll have the option to meet others in your state mobilizing for the fight too, along with your state captain.
We need all hands on deck to win our plan to stop COVID, build back better and stop the pandemics of the future. To WIN this policy agenda, we need to build a movement that brings together a massive community of people passionate about the same issues. This event is a chance for YOU to learn more, be inspired, and become part of this movement. Please register today and share this event to help us bring more people together for this important event!
Thursday: Help the People of Texas
I think we’ve all been horrified by what the people of Texas have had to endure – and inspired by what we’ve seen some politicians and regular folks do to help one another. I’ve been especially impressed with Beto O’Rourke’s efforts in holding phone banks as welfare checks, and was hoping to be able to offer some shifts. His website is not currently offering any shifts (I’ll keep looking to see if they post more) but you can donate to their Texas Relief Fund which will go to connecting Texans with water, food, shelter and transportation. Beto’s team has pledged that none of your contribution will go to overhead or administrative costs at Powered by People. Donations will be distributed to the most effective agencies and organizations within the hardest hit communities of Texas to get help to those in need following the worst storm in our state’s history.
Head over to: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/pbp-web-202102-tx
I’ll update this if/when I see that he’s added more phone bank shifts!
There are also MANY mutual aid organizations doing great work in Texas, and right now they could all use a hand. Here is a great Google Doc listing some great organizations by region/city. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1rdMnbzYxfXFrG1DefGqN3R1zu_lan2fml2bEYRpMcRQ/edit?fbclid=IwAR3Y5b63bgoJprilFDwhp_Pns51O58Yjdhu7gSFTxnyoRwO5JIJb5VdTTMs
Friday: Postcards to voters!
As I was cutting out my paper hearts, I was reminded just how fun craftivism (crafting activism) can be. Postcards to Voters has been a great creative outlet for a lot of folks – who can dress up their postcards in all sorts of gorgeous ways. You can too!
Postcards to Voters volunteers write handwritten postcards to the voters a campaign wants to target. The message is laid out for you in advance – so all you’re doing is supplying the postcard and the postage, and the effort that goes into writing them! It’s very relaxing, to be honest.
Right now there is one campaign that’s needing postcards sent to their voters. https://postcardstovoters.org/current/ If you’ve never volunteered with Postcards to Voters before, start here: https://postcardstovoters.org/volunteer/
If you’re an old hat with postcards, why not take a bundle or two? Head over to Postcards to Voters to request some addresses. (There are four ways to do so – email, Facebook, text, or slack. Choose your own process here: https://postcardstovoters.org/addresses/)
DID YOU KNOW YOU’RE A ROCK STAR? I DID. 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.
P.P.S.: 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!
Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. We’re in this together. Don’t you forget it.