So, I said earlier that I was going to go over ways to be politically involved or work to protect and improve the world over the long term without burning yourself out. I am delighted and relieved and overjoyed to find that there are many people writing away on this topic and setting up daily or weekly bite-sized actions to take, which you can sign up for via email or text or the communication system of your choice. Google around a little; it's great.

Here's what I'm doing:

1. I know donating money doesn't feel like doing a lot, but it's often the most effective and efficient way you can help people or push for change. Setting up automatic monthly donations to your organizations of choice is extremely helpful because it allows them to plan effectively over the longer term rather than trying to figure out what to do with a sudden windfall or figure out how to make up an unexpected shortage. Check whether your employer has a matching program for extra leverage!

2. I looked at my weekly schedule and found a few places I reliably have time to make phone calls and do research (to figure out what I need to be making phone calls about and be sure I have enough background information). For me, that's:
a phone call to reach an actual human Monday morning while my older daughter's in preschool
about 10 minutes of research Monday night
a voicemail or email Wednesday evening
a slightly longer research period Sunday morning
I would like some of this to be replaced by volunteering over time, but for now there are plenty of pressing issues to contact my representatives about.

3. I am trying out a few local volunteer opportunities, and I'll see what sticks in the long term. Right now, I am:
donating extra fruit from our tree to the Day Worker Center every other week or so
signed up to help Village Harvest collect fruit from backyard trees for folks who can't harvest it themselves and deliver it to other organizations
planning to join a group my friend is organizing to help sort food at a food bank
I have one each of these on my calendar for January. If it goes well I'll make it a recurring monthly or biweekly thing. If it doesn't seem sustainable for me I'll look for a different opportunity. When you are considering volunteer opportunities, look for things you will enjoy. Do you like talking to people? Do you enjoy manual labor? Would you like your volunteering better if you brought some friends with you, if you worked alone, or if you got to meet lots of new people?

4. Connecting with an organized group is a fantastic way to avoid reduplicating a lot of effort. I'm using the spreadsheet at to guide my calling efforts and short-circuit my dithering about how to rank the many important issues I could be working on.

5. Reading actual news once a week, or once a day, or wherever it fits into your particular schedule, is great. Be an informed citizen, hurrah. Constantly following links on social media to poorly-sourced articles and opinion pieces about the outrage of the day will only hurt you. If it's not research time, DON'T LOOK. You can bookmark it for later if you must, but please block out some times during the week where you can think about happy things, focus on your friends and family and pets, go for a nice walk. I am not as good at this as I would like to be, and there are a few people here on G+ that I should probably just unsubscribe from rather than keep spending my limited willpower on not clicking the links. Compartmentalizing your time so that you have both activist time and not-fretting time will really help you use that activist time to do things instead of collapsing into a constant worried mush.

6. Don't think too hard about where to put your efforts. There are lots of different things you could be advocating for, donating to, or helping with. You don't have to find the very best one! It's really easy for me to get caught up in trying to figure out what the very most important issue is, and how I specifically can be the very most effective helper I can, but every minute devoted to trying to figure out what to do is a minute you aren't actually doing the thing. Pick a set time to research -- "I am going to find and compare organizations working to help people register to vote for the special elections in North Carolina for 30 minutes" -- and then go from there. ( -- they're currently organizing, so they know money will help and they'll be contacting me later in the month or in February to let me know what else I can do from out of state)

Okay! If you have any questions, feel free to ask! I would be delighted to help you figure out your own sustainable structure for activism, so if you need some advice, or just someone to tell you what to do, I am right here for you.
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