It’s still close enough to January 1 that people are thinking about, and trying to act on, goals and resolutions for the coming year. This post is for everyone who has hit their tipping point and wants to do something more. Maybe it’s the #blacklivesmatter movement, maybe it’s the shootings at the offices of Charlie Hebdo two weeks ago. Maybe it’s the Keystone XL pipeline or genetically engineered food or pitbull rescue. Whatever it is, you want to do something more. But where to start, especially if you don’t have a lot of extra time, energy, or other resources. Or maybe you just aren’t sure where to start.
Wisdom from Teddy Roosevelt
Find your focus
There’s a slew of causes you might care about and you want to do something for ALL of them. But you only have so many hours in the day and so much energy to spare. Concentrating your efforts translates into being able to give more. Outside of issues tied to my day job as a librarian, primarily censorship and access to information, my major causes are advocating for real food (which includes environmental activism, anti-GMO work, and support for smaller farmers against the agriculture-industrial complex) and support for people with chronic health issues.
Whatever you do should also fuel your spirit. If you care for a cause but active work toward it seems to drain you, that will not help anyone.
Educate, educate, educate (with a nod to Weston Price)
Read, learn, talk to people. Find out what resides below the surface. Also take some time to look at writing on a different side. For some issues it’s a big help to know what people are saying and will give you information for potential debates.
Don’t go overboard
Maybe it’s my age talking along with my own health issues. Pace yourself. The last thing you want is burnout.
Go local if you can
Before my mother passed away in 2013, she including in her arrangements a wish that people eschew sending flowers and donate money to a local charity with which she was involved for many years. The organization provides daytime services and advocacy for people with severe mental illness. The organization received so many donations on her behalf that the director started up a fund in her name. The fund provides money for some of the members to attend a week-long overnight camp during the summer. I made my own donation to the fund recently, and before I did had a meeting with the director of the center along with the head of another group in the area which coordinates fundraising and grants for local charities. During our meeting, the latter woman told me that donations to local charities can have a bigger impact because these organizations often run on smaller budgets and struggle.
This isn’t true just for their financials. Aside from around the holidays, it’s not uncommon for local charities and non-profits to need support. Working for a local group also serves as a reminder of your community and continues to demonstrate that pagans, polytheists, and animists aren’t fringe weirdos. Thorn Coyle has been active with #BlackLivesMatter in California and has worked in a soup kitchen for many years. Lupa has mentioned a portion of river she sponsors in Oregon, and as part of her caretaking cleans up trash in the area and takes readings.
We all have a starting point. Where is yours?