Beyond marching: how to get involved and fight back

Beyond marching: how to get involved and fight back

In the past week, since Maine saw a day some of the largest public demonstrations in its history, I have been approached by dozens of young Mainers who attended the marches through my work with the Maine Young Democrats, all of whom are now asking the same questions: What now? What happens next? How do I get involved in the political process?

I recognize these questions as the same ones that I asked in the early months of 2011, when the continual outrages of the LePage administration were still fresh wounds, and Mainers started to recognize that the norms of our politics were beginning to erode under this now-familiar brand of reactionary populism. As a college sophomore, I joined in protest marches and demonstrations, but realized quickly that unless the outrage displayed at these actions could be leveraged to actually build structures that could challenge the power of corporate-backed conservative interests, then they would be doomed to fade without being able to generate lasting change. I sensed that there were people and organizations around me that were carrying out that work, but, like the people flooding my inbox this week, I had no idea where to start.

Maybe you are feeling the same way, one of the thousands who took to the streets, or who helped to amplify the message of the march through your personal networks and social media, who recognize that the movement for change can’t end at the actions of last week, but have realized that no one is there to show you a roadmap of what that resistance looks like.

You are not alone.

By independently recognizing that there is injustice occurring in our political system and then asking yourself how you can help to change it, you have taken the first step down a path that every activist, community organizer, and progressive leader has taken at the beginning of their journey toward becoming a change agent in their community. Fortunately, the often too-difficult next step of getting connected to the structures that will help you to create that change is one that you do not have to undertake by yourself.

Progressive community and political organizing is predicated on the idea that the best path to changing political structures is through collective action; the power of money, patriarchy, and white supremacy confronted with the overwhelming force of political structures made up of those who are marginalized by those systems and their allies. Connecting people with –and further empowering people to grow within– structures of resistance and participation is the reason that the profession of community organizing exists, and across the state there are organizers and organizations actively engaging in that work, and excited to help you to get involved in building a lasting movement for change.

Ready to take that next step? An organizer wants to talk to you about it. Below is a brief list of Maine-based organizations that have active community organizers around the state. The list is far from exhaustive, but any of them can start to orient you within the great ongoing work that is happening across the state. Email an organizer, go to a chapter meeting, and help build a lasting movement for progressive change.

Maine People’s Alliance

Maine Young Democrats

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England

Southern Maine Workers’ Center

Maine Health Equity Alliance

Peace and Justice Center of Eastern Maine

Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)

Sierra Club of Maine

Photo: Maine People’s Alliance chapter meeting.

About author

Grady Burns
Grady Burns 40 posts

Grady Burns is an activist on issues involving young Mainers. He serves on the Auburn City Council and is president of the Maine Young Democrats.

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