Where to Find Hope in Action

Tools and resources to resist, but more importantly to act, create and build.

In December/January I was bumming after the elections and anxious about the future. Discovering all of the smart tools and groups that were emerging to resist the worst of this administration’s policies and plans was my main inspiration for hope.

I like to say “I have activist tendencies”, which I’m convinced most real activists hear as an excuse, but I care about justice and equality and community and that feeling is something most everyone can relate to. We’re all somewhere on a scale. So as we tumble further down the rabbit hole and issues that are incredibly important to our world continue to be sidelined and trampled, I’m reflecting back to those resources and the awesome things people are doing that continue to inspire me.

I’m also gearing up for another period of motivation with the next wave of citizen activism — the science and climate marches (by the way, don’t ask me why they are still separate and only a week apart). However it comes about, doing something is important. It ladders up, individual, communal and societal. I’m sure there are more (and more localized) resources, but this is meant as a starting point. If you know of others that should be included, share with us in the comments. There should be something for everyone. And everyone is needed.

 

The Big Ones

Resistance Manual

“The Resistance Manual is rooted in the basic principle that the power belongs to the people. We wanted to create a clear tool that people can use for targeted resistance for the next 4 years” — Campaign Zero’s Samuel Sinyangwe

A huge and growing resource from some of the most impressive groups I’ve seen. The Resistance Manual is a timeline and collection of resources for people who are compelled to act against unjust policies. There is too much to outline here, but one place to start is:

Tools of the Resistance

A collection of information, apps, talking points, platforms and other tools. Individuals might want to start with the scripts and alerts, tracking legislation, and boycotts sections, but there are suggestions and breakdowns for just about anyone as you dig deeper. It’s a truly robust version of what this post is trying to accomplish and gathers a ton of resources for people.

(added: 3/17/17)

Indivisible Guide

“Former congressional staffers reveal best practices for making Congress listen.”

It started as a shared document of advice on how to resist this administrations policies from political people who work on Capitol Hill. Now it’s a downloadable step-by-step guide for how to organize, activate and engage with elected representatives. It’s authored by folks with an understanding of how government and congressional offices function, and based closely on the Tea Party movement’s success. It aims first, to bring more transparency to what happens in government and what congress is doing and second, to create and support this community down to the local level.

(added: 3/17/17)

The Love Army

“The #LoveArmy is a value-based movement, advancing diversity, inclusion, and compassion. We stand against those who want to turn people on each other, rather than to each other.”

I’m very much supportive of the approach by the #LoveArmy. By staying focused on humanity and kindness, it’s working to bring people together to create empathy and understanding. Related: The Albert Einstein Institute’s 198 Methods of Nonviolent Action

(added: 3/17/17)

Injustice Boycott

“Join in taking our money back”

The injustice boycott flips economic levers by helping people use their money and where their money goes to influence policy and behavior in support or social justice. It’s currently focused on NY, SF, and Standing Rock and supported by some of most outspoken justice advocates, like Shaun King. You can read his launch post here.

CorruptAF

“A near real time look at corruption”

A site that tracks all of the media coverage around the Trump administration’s potential conflicts of interest and risks for corruption. Right now it’s averaging an update (or two) everyday(!). Started by Hillary’s former digital director, so that’s fun too.

(added: 3/17/17)

Swing Left

“It starts with the House”

This site helps organize district by district action to move swing districts towards the more socially progressive values of inclusion and justice. Also related: Flippable

(added: 3/17/17)

Countable

“Understanding our lawmakers and their actions”

Countable gives daily updates on what elected officials are up to through an app. It’s a good place for regular insights and background on news, votes and bills. Beyond federal and national issues, they have localized in NY and SF at the moment, but assume more is coming.

(added: 3/17/17)

5 Calls

“Spend 5 minutes, make 5 calls.”

This site is focused on getting results from calling elected officials. Choose the issues that matter to you (or see some relevant to your location) and make a call, or five. The helpful app makes it easy.

(added: 3/17/17)

Resistance Calendar

An actual searchable calendar to capture events happening across the country. It’s a wide-ranging resource and a great way to find places to go be seen and heard. (Bay Area, also check out 100daysaction).

(added: 3/17/17)

The ACLU

The ACLU has been everywhere recently, from breaking fundraising records to taking action. Other than being independently wealthy with treasure chest full of millions of dollars, there is likely no better tool to hold people accountable than the law (actually, this is true even if you have buckets of $). So while there is no substitute for voting for your lawmakers, the ACLU is prepared to hold them accountable.

 

Mailing lists, SMS letters, and other tools

Re:act

A weekly mailing list of current topics and simple, coordinated actions. I enjoy the variety and focus of this one.

Resistbot

A text messaging based interface that turns your text messages into daily letters to Congress. Text “Resist” to 50409. A bot will ask you a few simple questions. Then you can send it messages that will be faxed to your congresspeople.

Action Group Network

A network to help you start and maintain your own local groups to act on specific issues. Start with looking through the groups that may already exist in your area.

 

Humor and frustration sites

Let’s be real, a good laugh or a deeply biting joke can help put a screwed up situation in perspective. Try these if you need a dose of either one.

Is Now Illegal

A .gif creation site to make things illegal in this administration. Just try it.

“He’s totally not, like, a dictator. Believe me folks.”

A Reddit user has started a list of all the “dictatorish” things said by Trump and his administration. If you’re not familiar with Reddit, this may be more difficult to navigate.

 

Media resources

The real news media is more important than ever. If you can, subscribe, donate, or do whatever you can do to help support them. Here are a few of that are not taking “fake news” lightly and doing what journalism is meant to do, bring the facts to the people.

100 Days of Trump Claims

The Washington Post is tracking President Trump’s false claims across his first 100 days. Facts are important. See the latest “alternative” ones here.

663 Campaign Promises

In a push for accountability, Think Progress has collected 600+ claims Trump made on the campaign trail and is tracking how he’s delivering on those.


 

Eric Raymond
Companies need to act fast.

The chasm between the 80% of people who didn’t vote for the President and his administration’s emerging policies is not surprising. It’s growing with every executive order. What’s more impressive is the speed. People are rallying against those policies in ways that move and grow faster than ever before.

If you’re a business leader, and you haven’t bolted upright at the recent mobilization of citizens around the country, you should set aside some time to think. People’s attitudes and society’s ideologies are more and more often delivered, debated and proven in real time through digital platforms. And as expected, social media is the conduit.

Social movements tearing through the public consciousness is the new status quo. For businesses, the speed and focus of citizen activism is poised to sweep up organizations in its wake. It’s shifting even the most strategically laid plans for the future.

The people’s passion for justice, equity, and inclusion has awoken on a global scale. In other words, we’ve come a long way from the ice bucket challenge. As people come together to speak truth to power, more often than not they are backing it up with action - alongside millions of others.

We’re continuing to move out of a time where talk only goes to go so far. Your actions matter more today than ever. For organizations that want to thrive, a rallying cry or a heartfelt donation is no longer going to be enough. Products will be judged, business models evaluated, and talk will be measured against action. Let’s take a look at some evidence of this;

  1. When millions of people are mobilizing en masse, a well-written statement of support falls flat. What gets attention? CEOs that appear in marches, just like the rest of us.
  2. #DeleteUber soldiers on, even though Travis Kalanick has backed away from earlier controversial statements. Why? Because the company’s actions, surge pricing, undercutting of taxi companies, and questionable lending, are catching up to it.
  3. Tech companies were accused of “silence as compliance,” but they are ramping up objections to potential cuts to H1B visas, likely to be the administration’s next target. Those words fall flat when contrasted with progress in their own diversity hiring initiatives. And the media is already taking note.
  4. Leaders like Tim Cook at Apple will be tested, likely by his own employees, even though he is talking about taking action behind the scenes.
  5. Elon Musk admitted to feeling down at the negative response to his appointment to a Trump advisory team. There were also canceled orders for Tesla’s model 3.

Now let’s look at how this movement impacts groups that are acting in support of an inclusive, just vision of society.

  1. The ACLU raised 6x what it usually raises online annually, in just a few days.
  2. Starbucks promised to hire 10,000 immigrants. A strong statement, backed by a history of action. This might have backfired if it weren’t for Starbucks’ track record of hiring for diversity and work in human rights.
  3. Climate activists re-mobilized in record time when the Keystone Pipeline proposal was put back on the table.
  4. And to prove that success through purpose is not a new phenomenon, last summer Unilever reported that its portfolio of Sustainable Living brands grew 30 percent faster than the rest of its business.

The world is moving incredibly fast. The only way to play it right, from a leadership and business strategy perspective, is to continue identifying and pushing the issues that are important, to your community and to the people you serve. Businesses will succeed when they act with business tools — where they have the most leverage. Examining and evolving business models, product strategies, and sustainability programs. As US citizens mobilize in record numbers on an almost daily basis, businesses will be called upon to pick a line. In an age where judgments of right and wrong course through digital platforms at the speed of sharing, it’s going to be strong, purpose-driven actions that decide which business will thrive.

An Easier Way to Report Your Organization’s Positive Impact

Fall is upon us and the leaves are changing, which means organizations are putting out their annual impact and sustainability reports. There’s an oft-used saying that sustainability is a journey, not a destination (search “sustainability is a journey” to see how popular it is). For years, this phrase has played out in reports and CEO letters around the world, lately, it’s accompanied by “we’ve made progress but there is more work to do.” These reports are supposed to be a celebration of accomplishments and hard work. Instead, we keep hearing, “we did something pretty good, but we’re trying to be humble, so don’t ridicule us about the stuff we struggle with.” It’s passive language that diminishes efforts and minimizes the impact of your organization. Here are a few tips to consider.

  1. Don’t be driven by fear of being criticized. In today’s transparent world, organizations who stand up for something risk criticism — but standing up is the only way to reap the rewards.

  2. Don’t compete for the sake of competing. This noncommittal language allows you to tout goals that don’t matter, or overstate small wins just so you can have a seat at the table. People see right through this.

  3. Celebrate. Every little bit counts and significant positive impact matters, you’ve earned it. And while you’re finding ways to do good, it’s ok that you could do more. We can all do more.

So what’s the right way to celebrate positive impact? For SMBs with limited resources and budgets, it’s smart to consider how you’re going to compete with larger scale organizations. Generally, it’s been about telling authentic stories around how you are limiting your impact. But increasingly, it’s about evolving the structure of your organization and its purpose to directly have a positive impact on the world. Here, SMBs actually have an advantage over large orgs.

Most successful SMBs were founded on a set of values and have already begun rallying their customers and employees around a core purpose. And when that purpose drives the organization’s business growth and positive impact, it’s far easier to quantify and celebrate it all.

Here are a few examples of successful organizations who minimized their need for complicated reporting by clearly tying their business to a positive impact and living that out through their day-to-day operations, eliminating the need for a report altogether:

  • The Real Co. only sells single-origin products. They provide clear transparency about what’s in the products you buy, while supporting local producers and simplifying customers’ decisions.

  • Dr. Bronner’s embraces a global society through its “All-One” vision. The company is growing more than ever, but its CEO pay is capped at 5x the lowest-paid worker. Dr. Bronner’s donates profits to social and environmental justice efforts.

  • New Belgium Brewing is a worker-owned company pushing leadership in sustainable brewing. It has also grown into the 4th largest craft brewer in the United States.

  • Beneficial State Bank in Oakland, CA directs 75% of their loan dollars to mission-aligned initiatives.

Looking to share progress on your sustainability journey, but don’t know how to define or articulate your purpose? Well, at least you know what you should spend valuable time figuring out.

Should Employees Play for Sustainability?

People play games for three billion hours a week.  Do you know what they are doing for the other few billion hours?  Working.

These two activities, it turns out, might not be as far apart as business leaders may think. For companies trying to influence behavior, gaming mechanics are today’s hot trend. Is putting some points on a leaderboard the trick helping marketers motivate consumers to behave as they wish?  Even though there is science behind the behavior and success to be found, game dynamics are a far cry from the silver bullet. Clear results from this trend are as hard to secure as the mayorship of the local diner. Foursquare, the trend’s poster child, is trying to distance the company from the concept. Not all companies can attach a game layer to their business plan, so what can game dynamics do for these companies on the path to sustainability?

Many businesses may be better suited to turn persuasive practices on themselves as a way to push forward internal sustainability goals. A TechCrunch post outlines a number of different gaming mechanics that are employed by SCVNGR, but at the core, gamification plays on people’s inner drives for psychological satisfaction. Tools like achievements, appointment dynamics and envy can ignite motivations and help people take action. What if companies jumped in to game dynamics, not for an external marketing program but as a means to motivate their internal workforce towards sustainability goals?

Zero waste, for instance, might be more easily achieved.  As an objective in sustainability departments across the world, one of the hardest facets of reaching zero waste is unifying the effort within the organization to motivate different departments and apathetic employees.  Game dynamics can be leveraged to inspire organizations step-by-step because, unlike performance bonuses that solely draw on employee motivations for money, game dynamics can draw on dozens of behavioral traits and drive behavior and focus them towards a shared company goal.

According to Adam Loving, “good gamification can amplify the intrinsic rewards of a particular behavior – to increase the feeling of fun, flow or accomplishment.”

Walmart has created My Sustainability Plan to help employees live better lives. Leveraging game dynamics to elevate social and wellness programs encourages participants to take a more energetic role in their health. They increase program involvement, driving benefits that serve the employee but also ripple through the company.  An increase in employee engagement will help businesses combat the $300 billion in productivity lost from disengaged employees unearthed by a Gallop study.

While the novelty of virtual rewards and badges can quickly wear off, engaging employees to game to achieve the sustainability initiatives and goals of their company has the opportunity to capture people and change behavior, increasing employee performance, retention and the bottom line.  For companies looking to engage their workforce in the sustainability journey, game dynamics may be just the win they are looking for. 

(originally published in 2012 & cross posted at Triple Pundit)