Ben Head's blog

Action Steps 2/14/18

IL-9 Action Newsletter 2/14/18


3 Things To Do This Week to Resist from the IL-9


Send a Valentine to Your Elected Officials


The legislative agenda in 2018 is shaping up to be a rough one, meaning a potentially very bumpy road ahead for elected officials representing the IL-9. Build on the the Valentine’s Day mood and help your officials prepare for upcoming fights by sending them a note of appreciation for their work. Find representative contact information by entering your address here.


Support Libraries


Among the cuts and slashes in the president’s proposed FY19 budget released on Monday was the elimination of all federal funding for libraries. This proposal would have a massively negative impact on libraries across the country who look to the relatively small amount of funding offered through grants in order to provide the most-needed services to their communities. Use this tool from the American Library Association to make it clear that the government needs to fund libraries. If you haven’t visited a local library in a while, take this moment as a reason to do so; pay special attention to all the various ways your fellow community members are using the library while you’re there. Better yet, talk to a library staffer about all their institution is doing to contribute to the life and success of the community.


Help Flip the IL-6


On Tuesday, February 20, from 7-9 p.m. at 2319 Park Place in Evanston, volunteers will be helping out the Coalition for a Better Illinois 6th by sending postcards to residents in that district reminding them to get out the vote in the March 20 primary election. Many Illinois groups are supporting efforts for the IL-6 to vote current conservative Congressman Peter Roskam out of office. Find out more here.

Action Steps 2/7/18

IL-9 Action Newsletter 2/7/18


3 Things To Do This Week to Resist from the IL-9


Demand Voter Rights


Illinois could do a much better job of ensuring all eligible citizens are able to exercise their right to vote—in particular those citizens who are awaiting trial and those who have served their time in prison and been released. HB 4469 has been proposed in the Illinois legislature to ensure voting franchise of these marginalized individuals; use this tool from ACLU People Power to ask your state legislator to support the bill.


Help Flip Some Seats


While every election is absolutely important, the 2018 midterm elections are shaping up to be particularly influential and interesting. Gerrymandered districts are being redrawn in major battleground states, and groups like Flippable are focusing efforts on individual races in which progressive challengers have the best chance of ousting conservative incumbents and ending the Republican majorities in Congress. We all know that funding factors significantly in these contentious races, so consider sending some cash in the direction of the Flippable Fund as they amp up their 2018 strategy.


Raise Your Consciousness


The hyper-partisan political landscape in which we currently live comes at least in part from both conservatives’ and progressives’ disinclination to engage with one another in conversation and discussion. Watch this TEDx talk to explore why it’s important to “Help make America talk again,” and strategies for having meaningful, transformative conversations in your own life.

Kelly Mazeski!

Come and join Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and Rep Laura Fine in their effort to elect strong progressive woman into the US House!
Kelly Mazeski (D) has a great opportunity to oust Peter Roskam (R) from the 6th Congressional District and to become the first woman ever to be elected to that seat!
Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and State Senate Candidate Laura Fine will be teaming up with Kelly Mazeski to have a Big Day of Action/Canvass to help Kelly flip a Republican House Seat!
Join Us on February 17th!
If you’d like to carpool as part of a larger group, we will be meeting at 
10:00am at 747 Custer Ave, Evanston
If you’d like to drive by yourself and meet us there, we will be meeting at 
11:00am at 3511 Regent Drive, Hoffman Estates


Action Steps 1/31/18

IL-9 Action Newsletter 1/31/18


3 Things To Do This Week to Resist from the IL-9


Raise Your Consciousness


Writer Anand Giridharadas was a featured speaker at the Obama Foundation Summit this past October; his talk explored the urgency we currently feel toward enacting change at this moment in history. Read (or watch) his remarks here and consider how illusions of change have impacted your own work toward a more progressive, welcoming country. What can you take away from Giridharadas’s exploration of ways to enact meaningful change?


Make Some Calls


Indivisible Illinois has organized ongoing phone banking to encourage Illinois residents in Republican-led Congressional districts to reach out to their elected officials and express displeasure at the passing of the recent tax reform bill. While we in the IL-9 have progressive-minded support from our elected officials, we can encourage our nearest neighbors to make their voices heard to their more conservative representatives. Find out more and sign up to make calls here.


Help Puerto Rico


Despite the president’s assurance in his State of the Union address that our union is strong, millions of our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico are still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria—even four and a half months following the disaster. Now FEMA is withdrawing aid from the island, leaving few desperately-needed resources for the million still without power and the hundreds of thousands relying on aid to overcome broken infrastructure. Aid from citizens of conscience is still needed; see this PBS article, which lists a number of organizations to which you can donate money or supplies.

Action Steps 1/24/18

IL-9 Action Newsletter 1/24/18


3 Things To Do This Week to Resist from the IL-9


Raise Your Consciousness


Have you been looking for perspectives and strategies to up your news literacy game? On Wednesday, January 24, from 7-8:30 p.m., Skokie Public Library will be hosting a workshop exploring what makes something newsworthy. The event is the first is a series called “Get a Grip,” which will consider a variety of aspects of news in our current political landscape. Find out more and register for this free event here.


On Sunday, January 28, at 2 p.m., the Democratic Party of Evanston is offering a free educational event exploring redistricting and the 2018 midterm elections. A panel of experts in voting policy will discuss current redistricting efforts across the nation. The event is free and open to the public, with a reception to follow, in the Guild Lounge of Scott Hall at Northwestern. Find out more here.


In honor of the recent appointment of Jacqueline Woodson as the new National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, take some time this week to find and read a book that helps you to see the world in a different way. Woodson’s platform for her two-year appointment is “Reading = Hope + Change (What’s Your Equation?)”; in that spirit, allow a book from a different perspective than your own to open your mind and heart. Anything from young children’s picture books through to historical nonfiction can fit the bill. Only when we’re open to change can we enact it.

Action Steps 1/10/18

IL-9 Action Newsletter 1/10/18


5 Things To Do This Week to Resist from the IL-9


Double Check that You’re Registered to Vote


It’s not too early to start thinking about voting in 2018 elections. Now is a great time to double check whether you’re properly registered to vote. Have you moved? Changed your name? Had some other life event that might have affected your voter registration? Check into it now so that you have plenty of time to register should you need to.


Help Ensure the Youngest Voters Can Vote


Did you know that, in Illinois, 17-year-olds who will be 18 by the date of the next general election are eligible to preregister to vote? Yet voter education for soon-to-be voters is both vital and sorely lacking. That means there are classrooms of high school students who will be eligible to vote in the November gubernatorial election, but who may not know they can take care of registering to vote now. Share that info with all the 17-year-olds in your life, then reach out to your local high schools and teen organizations to ask what they’re doing to support voter preregistration among their students.


Ask Your Employer to Make Voting Easier


In Illinois, employers are legally allowed to give employees two hours of paid time off on general election days to vote. Many organizations and employers don’t make use of this law, however, and voter turnout at elections—in particular midterm elections, like the one coming up in November—is routinely dismal. Make a plan to talk to your supervisor or your HR department about all employees being able to vote on work time if that makes voting easier for them. Use these resources from to help make your case.


Want to Vote by Mail? File Your Application


Illinois registered voters who are interested in voting by mail in the 2018 primary election may now file the application to cast their ballots via mail in advance of election day. Head to the State Board of Elections website to download the application and for more information. Vote by mail applications for the primary will be accepted through March 15.


Make Your Sign & Get Ready to March


Reminder! On Saturday, January 20, Women’s March Chicago has organized the March to the Polls, a massive demonstration a year after the 2017 Women’s March. This march is an opportunity to show that women and their allies are a voice to be reckoned with when it comes to political activity in this country. It’s also an opportunity to emphasize the importance of registering to vote and voting in all upcoming elections this year. Make sure to get the details on your calendar, and find out more here.

Action Steps 1/3/18

IL-9 Action Newsletter 1/3/18


5 Things To Do This Week to Resist from the IL-9


Hear from Illinois Attorney General Democratic Candidates


On Sunday, January 7, from 1:45-4 p.m., local chapters of Democracy for America will be sponsoring a candidate forum at the Irish American Heritage Center. As we gear up for the 2018 elections in Illinois, make plans to hear from the candidates who are hoping to earn your vote and become the Democratic candidate for Illinois Attorney General. Tickets for Sunday’s forum are free; claim your spot here.


Plan Your Calendar for Voter Activism


2018 is a significant election year, with major races across the country that could turn the Senate and the House of Representatives blue as well as a gubernatorial election here in Illinois. Getting the progressive representation in office that this country and state need is going to be an all-hands-on-deck affair, so get yourself pumped and prepared to engage in activities to get out the vote throughout the year. Take a look at this calendar from ActLocal, which gives you a concrete idea of what you can do in coming weeks, months, and seasons to ensure that progressive voices are heard in upcoming elections.


Assist Detained Immigrants


The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative is looking for attorneys, law students, and people fluent in English plus a second language to serve as volunteers assisting detained immigrants with their legal paperwork to seek release. Volunteers are able to work remotely, so if you care about immigrant rights and have expertise you can share, check out the Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative’s site for more information and to help out.


Make a Resolution for a More Energized, Joyful 2018


Activist Jen Hofmann regularly posts information about calls you can make to your representatives, issues in politics, and ways to sustain your energies in the resistance. Her post this week provides three excellent new years resolution options, all of which will help you to have a mentally calmer and more joyful year. Take a look at her three options and determine what would be best for you to have a more tuned-in, fellowship-filled, recharged year.


Get Your Marching Shoes Laced Up


On Saturday, January 20, Women’s March Chicago has organized the March to the Polls, a massive demonstration a year after the 2017 Women’s March. This march is an opportunity to show that women and their allies are a voice to be reckoned with when it comes to political activity in this country. Make sure to get the details on your calendar, and find out more here.

Action Steps 12/27/17

IL-9 Action Newsletter 12/27/17


5 Things To Do This Week to Resist from the IL-9


As 2017 comes to a close and 2018 begins, now is the perfect time for resistance reflection and goal-setting. During this week as the calendar changes to a new year, spend some time thinking about these questions to wrap up your 2017 resistance work and to set yourself some goals for 2018.


What did you do to resist in 2017? Thinking back on the full year, what did you do to contribute to resistance efforts? Did you attend a march or protest? Circulate or sign petitions? Phone bank for progressive candidates in typically red states? Make a list of all you did to resist this year, and note the activities that left you feeling particularly energized and empowered.


What would you like to do more of in 2018? Consider your 2017 activities, especially those that left you feeling like you were making a difference, and set some measurable goals to engage in those types of activities again in 2018. For example, if you felt powerful while canvassing to get local candidates on the 2018 ballot, make a commitment to spend time in 2018 canvassing or phone banking for those candidates as the midterm elections near. Add a recurring reminder to your calendar so you’ll get nudges throughout the year to follow through on your goals.


What issues are most important to you? One thing we learned in 2017 is that we could all easily stretch ourselves too thin by trying to take action on every topic that matters—there are so many issues that need attention and action. The resistance is large, however, which means that individuals really can make a substantial difference by focusing on just one to three issues that are most important to you. So sit down, make a list of the issues that move you the most, and think about two ways you can support progress on each issue. For instance, if you care most about immigrant rights, you can commit to donating to immigrant legal defense organizations and demonstrating and making calls to demand a DREAM Act. Don’t underestimate the value of donating to the causes you care about—funding is vital to helping make our ideal, equitable nation a reality.


What do you still want to know more about? It would be an understatement to simply say there’s been a lot of news this year; often it’s felt as though the main news stories have changed so quickly that it’s hard to stay informed. We all have topics on which we don’t know as much as we’d like or we should, so for 2018 make a commitment to learn about that topic, that legislation, or that idea that you keep hearing about but don’t quite understand just yet. Better yet, commit to exploring a new topic each month, or every week. A more informed citizenry makes our country stronger. Make sure you utilize reputable information sources as you grow your brain.


Do you know people who don’t or can’t vote? 2018 is a midterm election year, and the stakes—while always high—are particularly so this year. In Illinois, we have the opportunity to kick Governor Rauner out of office and elect a progressive governor; neighboring Congressional districts have the chance to send a Democratic representative to D.C. and help turn the House of Representatives blue. Commit to helping friends and neighbors register to vote if they’re not already, then commit to ensuring they can and do get to the polls on Election Day. It’s months away, but making the commitment now and being on the lookout for ways to help everyone vote—especially those who are typically marginalized—is a first step toward taking back our elected offices.


Together we can make our voices and our actions even more powerful than in 2017. Keep resisting.

Action Steps 12/20/17

IL-9 Action Newsletter 12/20/17


5 Things To Do This Week to Resist from the IL-9


Demand a DREAM Act


On Wednesday afternoon December 20, starting at 3 p.m., demonstrators will be participating in a sit-in at the office of Senator Dick Durbin downtown at 230 South Dearborn. This sit-in, an action from the #OurDream Alliance, is one of many demonstrations happening nationwide this week to demand that Congress pass a clean DREAM Act as part of their spending bill, which must be authorized by Friday, December 22 to avoid a shutdown. Find this and other events at the Fight for Our Dream website.


Learn from the Alabama Senate Special Election


Democrat Doug Jones won the Alabama Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions early this month in a special election. He won by an extremely narrow margin, and exit polls show his victory hinged on the votes of black Alabamans showing up to the polls. Many states don’t make it easy for people of color and other historically marginalized people to get out and vote—and voter suppression tactics tend to mean people who would typically vote on the liberal side of the ticket never get their voices heard. Gear up for the 2018 midterm election battles by reading up on the main lesson from the Alabama Jones win: that it’s vital to ensure black voters can cast their ballots.


Take some time to educate yourself on voter suppression tactics currently being used across the country to keep the poor, people of color, and the youngest and oldest potential voters from casting their ballots. Visit Spread the Vote to learn more, and consider donating to help Americans in districts requiring voter IDs to secure the documentation necessary to exercise their right to vote.


Be Prepared for Potential Demonstrations


There has been an uptick in chatter recently of conservative officials and pundits calling for the removal of special counsel Robert Mueller from the Department of Justice investigation into Russian collusion in the 2016 election. Groups across the country have put together rapid response demonstration networks that are ready to spring into action should Mueller be fired over the next few weeks. Find your preferred demonstration location and add your name to the list of those to be notified in the event of a Mueller firing.


Move On is also putting together a contact list for individuals who want to be kept informed of demonstrations that may follow any event deemed necessary of a crisis response, from an attack within the United States to an attack on the civil liberties of Americans. Add your name to ensure you’ll be in the know should any sudden event inspire a demonstration in response.

Action Steps 12/13/17

IL-9 Action Newsletter 12/13/17


5 Things To Do This Week to Resist from the IL-9


Urgent! Last Chance to Choose Your Health Plan!


December 15 is the final day of open enrollment for those seeking health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. That means it’s your last chance to change or add coverage for yourself and your family, and also to make sure all your friends and neighbors know it’s time to enroll, too. Visit the Get America Covered project’s website for resources and support to make sure all your friends and family know that enrollment lasts only through December 15.


Indivisible Illinois is also organizing daily phone banking to alert Illinois residents to the Affordable Care Act enrollment period. Whether you’ve got just a few minutes to spare or can gather groups of friends to make calls together, it’s not too late to sign up to participate in the phone bank. You’ll be doing your part to ensure everyone in Illinois who needs health insurance through the ACA is able to choose their coverage during open enrollment.


Preserve National Lands


The president has taken steps to drastically reduce the size of Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, two federally designated public lands created to preserve and protect the landscape—which has sacred import to several Native American nations. Read about the impact of this reduction from a Native perspective, then take steps to support Native peoples and these lands by working with the Bears Ears Coalition and Patagonia.


Demand Unbiased News Coverage of LGBT Issues


There’s been much discussion of the gay rights case that was recently before the Supreme Court, in which a Colorado baker refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. Mainstream television news programs have covered the topic, including disgracefully biased content as seen on Megyn Kelly TODAY. Read more about the problematically biased coverage of this case and take action to demand our news sources do a better job of objectively and informatively sharing the news.


Make End-of-Year Calls to Your Representatives


Our elected representatives here in the IL-9 have aggressively upheld progressive values this year, no small accomplishment considering the political environment we find ourselves in. Take some time at the end of the year to call your representatives to thank them for their hard work—and to remind them of the issues that are most important to you, including the necessity of passing a DREAM act. Get contact information for your federal representatives here.