Retake has always been about making it easier to carve out a portion of your life and devoting it to advocacy. But at the end of the day, being an engaged and active participant in the civic process does require a commitment of time. Since all people have different skills, time constraints, physical and mental capacities and policy or political interests, Retake wants to provide a wide range of options for all of our supporters to pick from.
As you read through the list that follows, try not to make your sole criteria for picking actions be based on what you’ve done before or the things you think you’d like. This isn’t about picking a hobby that makes you happy; it is about picking actions that need to be done and community challenges that need to be addressed. It isn’t about you; it is about us and our planet. And to be fully impactful, you may have to get out of your comfort zone and do something new. The list below will evolve and grow and if you have a suggestion for something else that could be on the list, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Here is the complete list of possible actions with a more detailed description of each task following the bullets below:
- Make a New World Resolution;
- Make a Habit of Sharing Information about Retake with Friends;
- Get to Know the Mayor and Your City Council Representatives;
- Attend City Council or Committee Meetings and Raise Your Voice;
- Attend Retake Our Democracy Town Halls to find out more things you can do;
- Join one of the two Retake Action Teams that research and advocate on state and local issues;
- Use social media to share Retake posts;
- Become an expert on an issue(s) you care deeply about and share that knowledge;
- Get to know House and Senate representatives in Washington, and/or their aides;
- Host a House Party–Retake will provide support;
- Write letters to the editor and My Views; and
- Volunteer for a local non-profit focused on social, racial, economic, or environmental justice.
Again, this is not a complete list, but there are plenty of ideas below worth pursuing.
Make a New World Resolution. After reviewing this list, sit down at your computer or pull out a piece of paper and a pen and make an actual list of the things you will do over the next few weeks or months. You are not making a lifelong commitment, but you are committing yourself to a set of actions for a few months. Be very specific and identify how often you will do each action. After you write it down, post it on your Facebook page and on the Retake Our Democracy Facebook page. Writing down your resolution will reforge your commitment and posting it publicly will further reinforce that commitment. Click here to go to our Facebook page. It is a good idea to visit the site periodically, as we post interesting articles and actions that don’t appear in the blog. Our events are also posted there. As you begin taking the actions you have resolved to do, report this on Facebook, as this will encourage others to follow your lead.
Make a Habit of Sharing Information about Retake with Friends. Make a list of the politically aware friends you have in Santa Fe or in other parts of the state. Those in other parts of the state are particularly important as lobbying at the Roundhouse is more effective when done by constituents reaching out to their own representatives rather than having Santa Fe ‘liberals’ contacting GOP reps or moderate Dems from ABQ, Las Cruces, or Deming. Write this down in a notebook devoted to this purpose and start contacting these friends, maybe calling three or four folks a week. Phone or face-to-face is much better than email. In the course of conversations, drop in that you have been subscribing to Retake Our Democracy’s blog, ask if they have heard of it, and tell them what we do: blogs 3-4 times a week on local, state, and national issues, stuff you don’t get in the New Mexican or Political Report. Also mention the monthly informational meetings, announcements about local, state and national actions, etc.
When you go to a friend’s house for dinner or go to some other social gathering or party, always wear a Retake Our Democracy button. Carry a few Retake business cards in your purse or wallet. You can always get a button and business cards anytime at Santa Fe Hemp at 105 E. Water, next to Pasqual’s or at any of our meetings. When someone asks about the button, tell them about how you are active and tell them about the blog. Give them a card and encourage them to follow by clicking the blue follow button. If they seem interested, follow up with them and send them a link to one or two posts that you think might interest them.
Get to Know the Mayor and Your City Council Representatives. In all contacts with representatives from the City Council, City Committees and Commissions, or Roundhouse Committees and whenever you testify before a Council or Committee, explain that you are from Retake Our Democracy when you introduce yourself. The more they realize that there are lots of Retake members who are paying attention, the more credibility we will have when we post something on an issue relevant to them. Click here to access contact information for all of the Councilors and the Mayor. The link also includes information about what to do when you attend a hearing or a City Council meeting. Write to them on issues that matter to you, but before you do, just introduce yourself, tell them why you came to Santa Fe, what you love about it, and maybe something about how you are just starting to take an interest in city politics…or that you have long been involved. The point is for you to tell them why you care enough about the City to reach out to them. You want them to see you as a person and a constituent. I recommend also calling your City Councilor and if you get voicemail, tell them why you reached out to them, leave your number and ask them to call you. Doing this on a routine basis will create a relationship and make your testimony at hearing (below) more impactful. In all communications, be respectful and try to show that you see both sides to an issues, show that you realize how challenging it must be to represent all views and all constituents, but then describe the merits of your position and how it benefits the City. Being reasonable and non-threatening will make it easier for the Mayor or your Council Reps to hear you, even if you are being critical.
Attend City Council or Committee Meetings. City Council Meetings are listed each week at this site: Click here. Whether you are interested in affordable housing, community development, historic buildings, water conservation, or the arts, there are committees that meet regularly to discuss issues related to those topics. City Council meetings are on Wednesdays, and at any meeting that has a public hearing, generally the 7pm meeting, there is an item before the agenda gets started on issues called “Petitions from the Floor.” This is an opportunity for you to speak directly to the Council, generally for 2 minutes on any topic that concerns you. It is a great opportunity for City Councilors to get to know you and a great way to raise your voice. If there is an issue that really matters to you, you can appear several times during Petitions from the Floor and discuss different aspects of the issue. Make a habit of coming to City Council meetings or Committee meetings once a month or so.
Attend Retake Our Democracy Town Halls. Town Halls are informative and help to create relationships among those who come regularly. Bring a friend or two with you so you have a social context to attending. We often having training or panels that will introduce you to knew information and we always discuss current activities that Action Teams are involved with.
Join One of the Two Currently Active Action Teams.
Retake has two action teams, the Local Research & Advocacy Team which focuses on City issues related to economic, racial and climate justice. The Team researches effective policies and programs that benefit the underserved, prevent gentrification, create livable wage jobs, preserve and increase affordable housing, maintain efficient public transit, and other issues germane to low-income communities. This team meets on the first and third Thursday of the month from 6-8 pm at 1420 Cerrillos, the Center for Progress & Justice.
Social Media Actions. We are not a huge fan of online petitions and merely posting opinions, but there is a strategy that helps expand the base of people engaging with our blog. Make a list of your Facebook friends who get lots of comments on their posts, especially those friends who make political comments. When you see a thread on a political issue that Retake has written about, go to our website, search and find the post, open it and copy the link. Go to your friend’s post and make a comment about the thread that expresses your views and then say something like: “Retake Our Democracy has an interesting post on this topic,” and say something about the content of the post, something that might draw friends in and say that the Retake blog posts information regularly about events and actions to keep you informed. Then paste in the link. The image from the post should pop up below your comment. If you have 3-4 or more friends who post regularly and get lots of comments, just do this whenever a thread seems relevant to something Retake has covered.
Become an Expert on a Policy or Issue that Interests You. Whether your major issue is women’s rights, climate change, Indigenous rights, or any other policy area, spend a few hours a week seeking out articles on the topic. Read them and share the link on your Facebook page. Keep a document on your hard drive where you keep links on the issue(s) of interest with a note about what you liked about the article and what aspect of the issue it covered. Then when the issue becomes particularly topical, you can refer back to the list and refer to articles in posts on Facebook. Whatever your issue area(s), there will be organizations that advocate on behalf of that issue. Do a Google search like: Children’s Rights progressive advocacy New Mexico” and you will find an organization like New Mexico Voices for Children or other organizations who advocate for children. Reach out to them and get to know one or more of their staff. Ask them about the issues they are most strongly advocating for. Ask them for good information on the issues they care about and review that information. Ask them what bills they will be advancing in the next Roundhouse session and get on their notification list. Join the Roundhouse Activism Team, below. It is the perfect framework for building your knowledge of how the Roundhouse operates and to advocate on the issue in which you have become expert.
Join the Roundhouse Activism Team. If you have an interest in advocacy at the Roundhouse, join the Roundhouse Advocacy Team that meets on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of every month from 6-8pm. Find out who your Roundhouse representatives are in the House and Senate, write to them about your issue, and ask if you can come to their office to meet them. This is best done when the legislature is not in session. But getting to know your representatives is a good way to advance your issues and to learn why it might be difficult to get passed and signed. By interacting with progressive lobbyist groups like Voices for Children or Common Cause, you will become more knowledgeable about the issues and the legislative process, which will make you a more effective advocate. If you have a friend who shares an interest in this issue, get them involved with the research and bring them with you to meetings with representatives or when you go to a committee hearing to testify.
Get to Know Your Senators and Congressional Representative. Especially if you have developed an interest in a specific issue, write to your Congressional Representative and Senators about that issue. Call their local office and ask if you can meet with an aide to discuss the issue and present your case. This is especially effective if you bring friends or other Retake supporters. If the aide or your representative see that there is more than one of you that share your views. Right now we are pressing both of the NM Democratic House Representatives to co-sponsor each of the eight bills that are part of the People’s Platform developed by OurRevolution, Progressive Democrats of America, and Working Families Party. Ask your representative about their positions on each of these bills and tell them that you are tracking their support for these bills.
Write Letters to the Editor and My Views. Nothing helps you come to a firm understanding of an issue and why it is important to you better than having to write a 150-word or 600-word essay on it. While your local paper may limit the frequency with which they publish your letters, there are a variety of publication that will accept your letters. Make a list of them, find out their word limits and begin submitting your writing more broadly.
Host a House Party. Retake will support anyone who hosts a House Party on any topic and we may be able to help you identify an expert to speak at the event. House Parties can be about raising money for a cause, agency or candidate or they can be purely educational and, of course, social. You invite 10-20 friends, make it a pot luck or put out some snacks and something to drink and invite folks by email and follow up with calls. At the House Party, encourage people to sign up for the Retake blog and ask them to do so right there on their phones while they are at the party. Use a sign-up sheet and ask people who want to get involved in the issue to sign up. You may have organized your own little advocacy group on the issue you care most about and you will provide another context to your social relationships.
Become a Volunteer for a Community Service Organization. Retake has published the names and contact info for about 6-7 agencies we routinely support and where we encourage our supporters to donate. Reach out to them and see if there is any volunteer opportunities. A routine of volunteerism for a specific organization working on issues you care about is a tremendous way to express your activism. It doesn’t have to be all about policy and political advocacy. Click here to identify some of Retake’s local partner organizations.
This is only a very partial list that will be expanded over time. Come back to this page periodically to find out new ways to become involved. But whatever you do, get active and make a habit of it. It is the only way we get the world we deserve. The powers that be are not going to hand over the reins, they need to be seized. By you.