By Melita Easters

WIN List Executive Director and Founding Chair

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”—Margaret Mead 

I have put the Margaret Mead quote on the inside front cover of every calendar I’ve used since college. We begin 2017 at a watershed moment for women in Georgia and nationwide. The issue is no longer whom we have elected president but rather what we are now willing to do in the face of this election and its far-reaching repercussions.

As women, are we prepared to forcefully continue our fight for equality of pay and representation? Will we protect our hard won rights to reproductive freedom? Are will willing to stand united and strongly say, “No going back!”

Women responded to Anita Hill’s testimony by electing four new women to the U S Senate and 19 new women to the House in 1992. Now, we must respond to our dashed hopes for the first American woman president by electing women in record numbers during 2017 municipal elections and 2018 statewide, legislative and congressional elections. Thoughtful, committed Georgia women must “seize” our day in an unprecedented way!


As you contemplate resolutions for 2017, here are seven simple steps to becoming  more thoughtfully committed:


1. BE INFORMED

Make it part of your daily routine to check reliable news sources. Consider purchasing a subscription to legitimate news organizations. Real journalism needs subscribers to compete with sometimes more “interesting and readable” but entirely fictional “fake news.”

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader once said, “Nothing can stop the power of an informed citizenry when it is empowered, organized, and motivated.” Regrettably, our nation now faces the consequences of an “ill-informed citizenry.” We should all be responsible for the accuracy of what we post and the “facts” on which we base our opinions. Share and encourage others to share factual information.

2. BE AN ADVOCATE

Advocacy is making your voice heard to promote the causes you hold dear. Advocacy does not necessarily require special training or even great powers of persuasion. Put your elected representatives at the national, state and local level on speed dial. Make your voice heard on proposed legislation – whether the proposal is something you support or it is something you can’t support. Write a letter to say what you think.

If you are fortunate enough to have a congressman and state legislators who vote consistently with your values, let them know how much you appreciate them. If your elected representatives take positions contrary to your beliefs, call their offices to make your voice heard. Staffers give daily reports on the number of calls received and the opinions shared. It takes only a minute to make sure you are a part of the daily tally.

Show up at the Capitol for hearings or press conferences on state issues or at meetings of your city, county or school board. Suiting up and showing up is the next step beyond a phone call or letter. Being part of the “concerned citizens” crowd at public hearings is often the first step decision makers took on their path to elected office.

Be a social advocate by writing a letter to the editor or guest column for the local newspaper.

3. BE A CAMPAIGN VOLUNTEER

It takes the proverbial village to run a campaign. Women work hard to win elected office and they need a volunteer “village” to knock on doors, make phone calls, address or stamp letters and post cards and drive voters to the polls for early voting and election day. Teams who will engage in door-to-door voter contact are always needed. With the miracles of modern technology, a volunteer can place phone calls for a candidate without ever leaving the comfort of home. It is easy, requires no special equipment and the campaign provides you with a script and instructions.

Many elected women in Georgia, like Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, State Reps Stacey Evans and Pat Gardner and Senators Nan Orrock and Valencia Seay, volunteered in the campaigns of other candidates long before they placed their own names on a ballot. Campaigning for someone else is a great way to decide whether you wish to someday run yourself.

4. BE A LEADER

Be the person in your circle of friends who knows what is going on and shares that knowledge with others. Start by sharing this blog post and information about Georgia’s WIN List. Organize a house party to discuss important issues – WIN List speakers are be happy to talk to your group and we are currently booking January and February dates.

Develop your leadership skills in the WIN Leadership Academy or leadership development programs offered in your community. If you are not yet ready to lead, find a public servant you can help. Most female elected officials have a supportive sisterhood of women who encouraged them to run and helped them WIN office.

5. BE A PUBLIC SERVANT

Not all public service requires running for elected office. If you want to take a step in that direction, consider service on an appointed board or commission at the local, county or regional level.

These boards govern a multitude of operations and provide oversight. Names vary from place to place and these board/commission/authority appointments are made by local government officials. Ask for a list of the available positions in your community and then attend a public meeting or two to be sure this is a way you would enjoy serving before asking to be considered for the next vacancy. Service on these boards demonstrates your willingness to serve the community and is a great way to become involved while learning more.

6. BE CONNECTED

Follow your elected officials or groups on social media and sign up to receive their newsletters. Attend community/neighborhood meetings, WIN List events, political party meetings and gatherings hosted by progressive groups to connect with others who share your values. Joining others who also want to make a difference empowers the group and new recruits bring hope to progressive causes. Follow them on social media and staying connected will lead you to opportunities for action and advocacy. For WIN List, sign up for e-blasts at: www.gawinlist.com. Follow on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gawinlist or Twitter:@gawinlist.

7. BE A DONOR

Georgia’s WIN List, and all progressive groups for that matter, depend upon generous donors to fund their efforts. We can’t train future leaders and recruit candidates without your support. WIN List appreciates gifts in any amount, During 2017, monthly pledges can be made and automatically charged to debit or credit cards. For example, think of donating monthly what you might otherwise spend on one evening out or that “I don’t really NEED another white blouse/pair of black shoes” to WIN List instead!

We are grateful for the donors who have believed in our mission to change the face of power in Georgia for the past 16 years. There are many different contribution levels and all donors now receive our Winner’s Circle Card. To get yours, mail your check to Georgia’s WIN List, Post Office Box 7157, Atlanta, Georgia 30357. Electronic payments and monthly pledges are accepted via our website: http://bit.ly/gawinlistdonate   

“Lead, follow or get out of the way,” is an old quote attributed to many, but particularly applicable today. We must rise up and lead or decide where we are happy to be foot soldiers. There is too much at stake to merely “get out of the way” and let others do the difficult work.

The next few years will be an “all hands on deck” political storm. Each of us must do our part.  We all have relationships with children – as mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and friends. This next generation counts on us to make the world they will inherit a better place.

Twenty years from now, what will you be able say you did during these critical times for our state and country?

 

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