Cabe column: Election is a call to action and for kindness
I haven’t lived through many presidential elections yet, but if conversations with my elders are any indication, the emotional reaction to this election is not the norm.
I myself have been dealing with a crushing sadness over what a Trump presidency means, especially in light of his recent appointment of white supremacist Stephen Bannon as his chief White House strategist and senior counselor. For me and for so many Americans, this Trump victory is personal.
So I understand if you’re not ready to take action yet. In the days immediately following the election, I wasn’t good for much of anything but radiating my inner doom and gloom outward.
I’m now ready to accept, though, that this election is a call to action and a call for kindness. Those of us who value human rights and equity for all are allowed to grieve, but that grief should ultimately empower us to make change.
There are plenty of national organizations that could use your support, including the ACLU and Anti-Defamation League, but change works fastest and best when it’s localized, so that’s where my emphasis will lie.
To ensure all women continue to have access to health services — including STD tests, annual exams, birth control consultations and prescriptions and, yes, abortions — consider setting up a recurring monthly donation to Planned Parenthood. One-time donations are great, but giving $5 each month is more helpful than giving $60 at once.
If helping women is a priority for you, as it is for me, consider supporting Advocate Safehouse. This organization is the only one of its kind in Garfield County, providing services for survivors of domestic and/or sexual violence. This kind of violence affects men as well, and Advocate Safehouse is there for anyone regardless of sex, gender, age, etc., who needs its services.
A big part of this valley’s vibrancy comes from our Latino and immigrant populations. To support these neighbors, consider giving to English in Action, an organization that helps immigrants learn English and develop skills to succeed in this valley.
Another great organization to support if you care about celebrating and emboldening our minority populations is the Valley Settlement Project, which is a program focused on low-income families who have not developed strong connections with their community, many of them Latino. The project partners with other local organizations to welcome these individuals and families to the valley and make sure they have the tools they need to build a successful, engaged life here.
Continue to support your local LGBTQ community by giving to AspenOUT, the organization that puts on Aspen Gay Ski Week. AspenOUT supports local anti-bullying and tolerance programs as well as national organizations that address these issues.
Donald Trump may have been at his most offensive when he mocked a reporter with a disability. To support your neighbors who have developmental, emotional or physical challenges, consider giving to WindWalkers, an equine assisted learning and therapy center, Mountain Valley Developmental Services, an organization that promotes independence and community inclusion, or Challenge Aspen, which provides access to sports, recreation and cultural activities to children and adults with physical and mental challenges.
If veteran services are important to you, look into giving to the Western Slope Veterans Coalition, which offers programs that “support, honor and connect veterans in Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties.”
I believe one of the most powerful things we can do that will fly in the face of Trump’s fear and hate mongering is create beauty, spark dialogue and provide joy to all. Art is the ultimate vehicle for all of these goals, so consider supporting your favorite local arts organization, especially those that offer classes and activities for children.
Some of my favorites include the Bookcliffs Arts Center in Rifle, the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts, the Carbondale Clay Center, Carbondale Arts and the Aspen Music Festival and School, for which I work and whose education programs reached approximately 600 local schoolchildren last year.
Perhaps the most important way to improve our community is through education and communication. Literacy is a vital first step to both, so consider giving to Literacy Outreach, an organization dedicated to teaching adults to read. With that ability to read comes so much more opportunity that most of us take for granted, including secure employment and being able to connect with others.
In the same category as literacy is engagement in the world around us. Too often we seek out media that aligns with our opinions, but that is detrimental to a healthy democracy. We learn nothing, and we end up basing our decisions on false information. A simple way to keep our government in check is to consume reliable, truthful, investigative journalism. Consider giving to KDNK or Aspen Public Radio, and purchase a digital New York Times subscription. Don’t get your news from your Facebook feed; open up an established and trustworthy newspaper, and take the power the Founding Fathers intended for you when they penned the First Amendment. Understanding our country’s place in the world, and our individual place in the country, will only help us make better decisions at the voting booth.
If you’re like me, you felt powerless last Wednesday morning. But the truth is, we have all the power in the world to effect change, especially in our local community. Don’t stop at spreading a message of kindness; put your time and your money where your mouth is.
Jessica Cabe invites readers to leave comments with more organizations to support. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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