Victory Today, March on Saturday, and No Work on May Day

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Today roughly 2,000 women, men and some children, gathered at the Women’s Rally in the state Capitol Building in Springfield, Illinois. It is a long haul to make it to Springfield from most of the state. Many people, like me and my son, took the day off from work and school. It was worth it. Unlike the Science March Chicago  and the Tax Day March Chicago (which were awesome by the way) this rally was directly aligned for legislative impact. Today HB40 was passed in the House 62-55. This bill is intended to protect women and doctors from an automatic trigger to criminalize abortion and abortion counseling the moment Roe v, Wade is overturned (a real possibility now that Gorsuuch was confirmed for the US Supreme Court). The Senate will likely pass it, but Governor Rauner flipped his position, balking at one piece on state employee and insurance coverage for abortions, even though he has personally donated thousands to Planned Parenthood. Please put pressure on Rauner to sign.

Meanwhile, there are many other bills pending that deserve attention, such as the Equal Rights Amendment, important language changes to Equal Pay Act (to stop the common practice of employers to ask job candidates to disclose past salary), Learning with Dignity (feminine products in schools), etc.

I met Daniel Biss at the rally today, a state senator who spoke eloquently at the Tax Day March, and again today. Based in near north suburbs of Chicago, he seems to have the right mix of integrity, compassion and political savvy and activism. He is one to watch in the next race for Governor.

Coming up: This Saturday, April 29 at Noon in Federal PLaza, Chicago is the People’s Climate March. Spread the word, people don’t know much about this one. We are going after all. Hope to see you there!  Also May 1 is the Labor March.

Keep writing to your US Senators and Congressmen to demand an independent investigation of Trump-Russia collusion. This is criminal to the point of high treason, way beyond the “lock her up” pay for play Trump activities. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you are watching Fox propaganda/whitewashing or not reading news at all, so get busy triangulating your news sources or give me a ring for a jumpstart.

Time to step up! This Saturday, next Saturday, and so on!

Roll up your sleeves and put on your walking shoes. April is so full of good stuff that you simply must pick one. If you pick two I will kiss you. If you pick three I will mow your lawn. If you pick four, you are my hero! The world needs more heroes!!

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Saturday, April 15 Tax Day March in Chicago (11:00 am at Daley Plaza) This is about ethics and transparency in government, so any of the scandals are fair game. “Bankrupt billionaire”, “Russian Puppet”, “Trump U Tax 101 (‘Fool them all of the time’)”

Saturday, April 22 Science March in Chicago (10:00 am east of Michigan and Jackson) Ironically, my kid is in a science symposium this day, so we may need to skip the march. But perhaps we can have a sign on our car with a picture of Einstein’s face, “Glad we welcome immigrants”.

Tuesday, April 25 Illinois Women’s March on Springfield Illinois. (Noon to 3 pm in Springfield)  I am taking time off work to go to this. It is really important to help pending legislation strengthening on equal pay laws, protect a woman’s right to choose, and other common sense bills. My sign will be “Lady Liberty is Watching You.”

Saturday, April 29 People’s Climate March in Chicago (Noon at Federal Plaza). We won’t be able to make this one, but it might be the most critical. As my Dad said in the sixties, “Earth, Love it or Leave it!”

Other political action: It is still worthwhile to write to your U.S. Congressmen and Senators asking for independent investigation of the Trump-Russia Scandal. Did you notice the quiet signing Trump did today related to reducing women’s access to healthcare? And here is a good article to help you remind people of some of Trump’s flip-flops, lies and ignorance.  And in local politics, write to your legislators and state senators to support the women’s bills pending:

Here is the list of legislation and fact sheets that the Illinois Women Moving Forward Coalition is advocating for:

  • HB40 (Feigenholtz) – Safeguarding and ensuring access to legal and safe abortion
  • HB2771 (C. Mitchell)/SB1296 (Hutchinson) Securing paid sick time and paid Family Medical Leave for working families so that women can take care of themselves and their children
  • HB2462 (Moeller)/SB981 (Biss) – Strengthening the Illinois Equal Pay Act to target systemic discrimination
  • HB3215 (Wallace)Learn with Dignity: Requires a school district to make feminine hygiene products available, at no cost to students, in the bathrooms of school buildings
  • HB3904 (Stratton) – require the IDOC to establish gender responsive, trauma-informed, evidence- based and family-centered practices, policies & programs throughout all women’s correctional facilities.

Greed, Fear and Racism, or Something Worse

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National Republicans, and the national conversation during the 2016 Presidential Election, have already led me to the conclusion that greed, fear and racism were driving principles in the new Republicanism (and old conservatism).

These driving principles fuel things like white flight that create self-fulfilling prophecies in now hurting neighborhoods. After having experienced that myself in Chicagoland, I was interested to learn about old Louisville in Kentucky from a resident when we traveled for spring break. These principles allow white people to pull the ladder up behind themselves on immigration under the guise that “I just want them to obey the laws of entering our country” while ignoring our own history. Also, these driving principles allowed people to be easily cowed and manipulated by lies and misleading information and regime-toppling propaganda (enter Russian internet trolls retweeted by Trump).

Bill Maher expressed the same exact thing–greed, fear and racism–so it caught my attention. But he goes further to explain the otherwise inexplicable behavior of the current White House leadership. Would be funnier if it weren’t true.

  • Click Here (late night language)  My teen tells me this is trending on YouTube. Maher doesn’t even mention all the examples he could, like rolling back clean water rules, but he sums it up with the simple truth.

Let’s break free of the ugly instincts driving current politics and foreign influencers, I prefer rhetoric and policies that stand for generosity, bravery, and love. Let’s rise above our base instincts so we can be the Americans we are supposed to be and “Fly like an Eagle…”

Stepping up! Townhalls are fair game.

Not long ago, after extreme frustration and bewilderment with local skirting of national politics, I pondered hosting my own townhall if our elected officials keep running from their constituents. Well Michael Romain of the Village Free Press did just that (in cooperation with The Wednesday Journal) soon after that. And tomorrow,  he will be facilitating another town hall meeting on April 1st to explore Maywood government and candidates (with support from The West Cook YMCAs).

It is wonderful to see people, journalists, and organizations stepping up to lift up citizenry and help people understand self governance. Many thanks to one and all!

So what can you do? Write to Congress? Write the next political folk song? I have songs on the brain due to Spring Break in Nashville. More on that later.

Karaoke, Community, and April Action Items

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Life is busy, especially when layering on political action to our routines. So squeaking out a full weekend for the annual Temple retreat this weekend was a little more stressful than usual, knowing weekend chores awaited our return home. But true to the purpose of a retreat, and the express purpose of this one, I emerged refreshed and with a renewed commitment to community. We discussed unity, compassion fatigue, implicit bias (read Blind Spot), and Jewish spiritual teaching. I even had the cathartic experience of belting out “I Will Survive” in a karaoke improv moment. (See my suggested lyrics further below)

So with a renewed energy, let me share a few action items on the horizon. Check your energy level and then check your calendar. Let me know if you want to join me for any of it. Life is contagious, let’s catch it together:

  1. April 5 (Wednesday) – Advocate for women in Springfield, Illinois. Register (free) to join the first Illinois Women Moving Forward (IWMF) advocacy event.
  2. April 15 (Saturday) – Tax March in DC and other cities Learn more. (And I also suggest we carry signs that ask for independent investigation of Russian interference)
  3. April 22Science March on Earth Day in Chicago,  Washington, D.C. or check elsewhere. Please make this one huge! I think of this as more of a Facts Matter March and frankly I think the week-later Climate March  (April 29) should be combined with this one.

Seriously, try this at home

I Will Survive” sung by Gloria Gaynor, written by Freddie Perren and Dino Fekaris. Lyrics parodied by citizenstacy.

Once I was afraid, I was petrified
When I woke up to a president who cheated and who lied
I spent oh so many nights just thinking how he’d done us wrong
And I grew strong, we must all learn to get along

And how he acts, from outer space
Trying to divide and make us fight because of race
I should have checked that voting box, 
I should have locked it with a key
If I had known for just one second he’d be four years bugging me

All right now go, walk out the door, don’t stay around now, you’re not welcome any more
Weren’t you the one who tried to break me with your lies, you’d think I’d crumble, submit to all those Russian spies? Oh no not I. I will survive. For as long as I know how to love I know I’ll be alive. I’ve got all my life to live and I’ve got all my love to give and I’ll survive. We will survive. 

I took all the strength I had not to fall apart, just trying hard to mend the pieces of my broken heart. And I spent oh so many nights reading news to make you cry, but now I hold my head up high.

I March with Women! (pause) I go to meetings! (pause) I talk to strangers, (pause) Bring happy greetings. (add your own awesome actions) (Repeat chorus). (March in place)

PHOTO OF GLORIA GAYNOR ATTRIBUTED TO: Docklandsboyhttp://flickr.com/photos/mogwai_83/335530580/

“Look, A New Day Has Begun”! Ben Vereen, Credit Unions and the ACLU

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This weekend I had the extreme pleasure of enjoying Ben Vereen’s performance at Dominican University’s Annual Gala for student scholarships. The University’s mission is to “…prepare students to pursue truth, to give compassionate service, and to participate in the creation of a more just and humane world.” This coupled with Vereen’s “vibration of love” as he put it, left a lasting impression of positivity and hopefulness.

I love his music, but many of you may most fondly remember him, as my husband does, for his role as Chicken George in the classic TV mini-series Roots (If you have not seen this, make the time!). As Vereen inevitably walked us through years of American history with his musical revue of Broadway hits (“Memory”, “Jesus Christ Superstar”, “Aquarius”) and other classics, (“Chicago”, “Summertime“, “Standby Me”, “What a Wonderful World”), the moments were poignant with recollections of hardship, social change, and triumph of America and Americans.

Other events this weekend buoyed spirits. Consider the ACLU’s PeoplePower.org debuting online (Must see). Even Democrats got it together last Wednesday with the first Democrats Live virtual Town Hall meeting (Subscribe for future meetings). And the best part of this weekend was celebrating a local Credit Union who supports hardworking people every day, unlike the “foreclosure king” who now serves in Trump’s cabinet as Secretary of Treasury.

Immersed in this positivity, perhaps I can stomach Trump’s cabinet member Ben Carson, who recently and ridiculously equated slaves with immigrants. Perhaps I can handle the fact that kids at my son’s school are making Hail Hitler gestures and calling him and others “the Jew”. Perhaps I can see Trump’s audacious wiretapping lie for what it really is, which is a reckless effort to distract news from his corrupt Russian ties. See Russian ties visual or (incomplete) Russian Video Timeline. Perhaps.

The hatred stirred up, amplified, and downright created from whole cloth in Right-Wing political rhetoric and strategy, is ugly. But we have seen uglier. And think how far we have come.

So I will try to let Ben Vereen’s voice resonate stronger and linger longer. I could feel his belief in “What a Wonderful World” and hear his haunting conclusion to “Memory“, which seemed to usher in the resistance as a dawning of enlightenment, “Look, a new day… has begun”.

 

It Takes a Woman. To Save a Village.

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Today, in honor of International Women’s Day and a call for action following the Women’s March, a group of women (and my father and ten-year old son) took off for the day and toured Jane Addams Hull House Museum in Chicago.

I was humbled by the sheer breadth and depth of what Hull House accomplished in its many decades of service to our city and our nation. Also what women accomplished at a time when they did not yet have the right to vote. And most notably, how so much of what they accomplished persists today, to the benefit of all Americans, such as the eight-hour work day, child labor laws, occupational health and safety laws, the NAACP and ACLU.

A remarkable aspect of the settlement house was its commitment to serving the needs of the whole community, which meant dining halls, reading rooms, classes in citizenship and skill-building, child care for women who worked, new concepts like kindergarten, the first city playground for children, etc. This was not a single-issue settlement. It was about improving lives and community as a whole.

Also worth noting was both the neighborly and scientific approach taken by Hull House social workers. The map pictured above was developed by their study and intimate knowledge of the surrounding area and helped them understand the extreme poverty that existed. They deduced that families were making so little money weekly that children were forced to work, and work inordinate numbers of hours. Their studies and persistence led to child labor reforms we take for granted today.

Hull House workers settled in and served a neighborhood community, affording them a holistic view of a variety of community needs and solutions to those needs. This work is complex and issues are intertwined. Solving one problem might mean several solutions are simultaneously needed. Conversely, solving multiple needs can sometimes point to one powerful solution. Knowing the difference is critical, and it takes careful study and intimate knowledge and understanding of the needs. We are tempted today to treat Poverty, Child Care, Health Care, Equal Pay and Women’s Rights as separate issues. But they are inextricably intertwined. For example, equal pay for women will lift whole swathes of children out of poverty. Our modern-day politics either relies on statistics, or scoffs at them. Can we plant powerful people from both major parties on the frontlines–of poverty, rust belt, or immigrant communities–so they can get an up close and personal view?

Jane Addams’ example is an inspiration to us all. Interestingly, a woman from Finland joined part of our tour and she told us that she was very eager to visit the museum because in her country they are very aware of Jane Addams and her contributions to social work. In contrast, some women in our group who live in Chicagoland had never been to the museum and were not fully aware of her accomplishments, let alone her lessor known talented and dedicated female colleagues.

After learning more about Jane Addams and the residents at Hull House, who were mainly women of wealth and privilege intent on doing social good, I am more convinced than ever that women must take up the cause to heal and lead this nation. We are not fully empowered, so that helps us understand what it means to be a minority, and the good that is lost by marginalizing people. But meanwhile, women are not a minority, so that means we have the power of numbers, and many of us have the power of privilege and resources of being white and wealthy. We can and should step up to bridge the gap in our nation’s politics that would otherwise divide and weaken us all.

While it takes a village to raise a child, it may very well take a woman to save a village.