Ben Head's blog

Action Steps 6/21/17

IL-9 Action Newsletter 6/21/17


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


Boots on the Ground


Come to the Federal Center downtown to greet the Truth Tour bus as it completes its route around Illinois and stand in solidarity with the millions of Illinois residents who rely on the Affordable Care Act for their health care coverage. The Truth Tour demonstration against repealing the ACA for the poor replacement AHCA will take place Thursday, June 22, from 2:30-4 p.m.


A candlelight vigil in memory of Nabra Hassanen, a Muslim teen girl killed over the weekend, will take place on Thursday, June 22, from 6-8 p.m. downtown. Join members of the Muslim community and allies in standing against hateful and racist rhetoric that is contributing to the normalization of harassment and killing of Muslim Americans.


Sunday, June 25 is the annual Chicago Pride Parade. Plan to attend and celebrate in solidarity with LGBTQ Chicagoans and those who recognize their inherent human dignity. Check out the Chicago Pride website for a full listing of events.


Join Community


June 25 is the Day of Dinners nationwide, with ordinary citizens across the country gathering together to share a meal with neighbors both familiar and new. Based on the tenet that our sharply partisan political sphere calls for people to get together, talk, and recognize the humanity in one another, the Day of Dinners offers opportunities for both hosts and attendees to gather around common tables. For information on events near you, visit the website and register.


Raise Your Consciousness


While the current administration doubles down on unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in the United States, it has recently come to light that Russian hackers perpetrated a cyberattack on the U.S. electoral system and voter information during the 2016 presidential election. Take some time to read up on these hacks so you’re prepared to talk about real issues of voting security.

Action Steps 6/14/17

IL-9 Action Newsletter 6/14/17


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


Support Immigrants and Refugees


Chicago’s Welcoming City Ordinance, enacted in 2012, was a step toward making Chicago one of the most immigrant-friendly cities in the nation. A rally in support of the ordinance, including a call for the closing of loopholes in its language, will take place on Thursday, June 15, at 11 a.m., across the street from City Hall downtown. Stand in solidarity with this pro-immigrants’ rights action.


June 20 is World Refugee Day. To mark the day, visit the webpage of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and familiarize yourself with the work they do. Print off copies of their “Know Your Rights” card, which has rights information in English, Spanish, Korean, and Polish as well as contact info for families experiencing crisis. Keep a copy in your bag, share one at your local community center, and think about other places where this information might be accessible to immigrant and refugee families who need it.


Raise Your Consciousness


Get a head start on preparing for the 2018 gubernatorial race by taking some time to review the bios of those who have declared they’ll run to challenge Gov. Rauner. Read statements from:

Daniel Biss

Bob Daiber

Chris Kennedy

Alex Paterakis

Ameya Pawar

JB Pritzker


It’s okay to disagree with people who hold different views than your own—but it goes too far to dehumanize them for simply having different beliefs. Take some time this week to read this Vox piece by Brian Resnick exploring the ways we dehumanize those who live, worship, or vote differently from us, and the negative toll it takes on both our country and our minds.


Need a reminder of why it’s important to get your news from a variety of sources—or, at the very least, not just from a single source? Take a look at this piece from The Washington Post showing what MSNBC, CNN, and Fox included in their coverage of James Comey’s testimony. All three outlets drew from the same primary source, and yet each crafted a unique perspective of the story. Use this example as a motivator to do an audit of your current preferred news sources and to add some new ones to the mix.

Action Steps 6/7/17

IL-9 Action Newsletter 6/7/17


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


Boots on the Ground


While demonstrations and marches have been a cornerstone of the resistance since the inauguration, protest is a right that can be exercised by people of all viewpoints—including those who would demonstrate their hate and racism. Drown out the planned anti-Muslim protesters downtown this Saturday, June 10, at 9 a.m., as part of Counter-Protest: Chicago Resists Islamophobia. Show your solidarity with Muslim neighbors while denouncing hate.


Show your support of and celebrate Chicago’s LGBTQ community on Sunday, June 11, at 11 a.m., at the Chicago Equity Rally at Andersonville Midsommarfest. RSVPs are requested for this event, which will mobilize community members and allies in confirmation of LGBTQ rights and humanity. This rally is in solidarity with The Equality March for Unity and Pride happening in Washington, D.C., the same day.


Make Some Noise for Climate Action


The biggest administration news since the last action newsletter was the president’s announcement that the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement—making us one of only three nations globally that will not participate. Make it clear to CEOs of major corporations who are serving on the president’s Advisory Council that this decision is unacceptable and dooms the future of the planet. Reach out via social media and email to demand that these CEOs resign from the council and commit their companies to serious action to combat human-caused climate change.


In the wake of the news that the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, a handful of governors have announced that they will lead their states in upholding the standards of the agreement even without federal support. Give Governor Rauner a call and demand that he commit Illinois to honoring the standards of the Paris Climate Agreement.


Take Some You-Time


Active resistance requires energy, which is why it’s important to take time to recharge your batteries on a regular basis. Take advantage of the calming benefits of coloring by printing off and making beautiful these resistance-themed coloring sheets just released by Planned Parenthood. Share with a friend, color with a kid, and add your finished product to your fridge so you feel invigorated each time you see it.

Action Steps 6/1/17

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


Boots on the Ground


While news has been happening at a breakneck pace since the 2016 election, one feeling prevails: there are so many conflicting accounts of what’s happening in the news that it’s hard to keep track of what’s true. Join the Chicago March for Truth on Saturday, June 3, at 11 a.m. at Federal Plaza at Adams and Dearborn, one of many Marches for Truth that will be happening across the country this weekend. The march platform includes calls for an independent commission, non-partisan and with Congressional funding, to investigate recent behavior of the Trump campaign and administration around Russia.


Moms Demand Action - IL is a local group dedicated to demanding that legislators, companies, and educational institutions act to create common-sense gun reforms. On Saturday, June 3, from 12-3 p.m. at Harold Washington Park, the group will be hosting Wear Orange 2017: Party for Peace. The event is intended to bring together community members in favor of ending gun violence through common-sense reform. There will be food, music, and games, and RSVPs are appreciated. Don’t forget to wear orange!


Peter Roskam, the Congressional Representative for the IL-6, has not been holding town halls—and that’s after he snuck out the back door of a scheduled constituent meeting during the winter in order to avoid interacting with those of his constituents who demanded answers for his seeming agreement with the policies of the new presidential administration. Residents of the IL-6, however, are organizing their own town halls. In what they’re billing as an “Adopt a District Town Hall,” the Coalition for a Better Illinois 6th will be hosting a town hall with special guest Rep. Jan Schakowsky on Saturday, June 3, from 5-6:30 p.m. in Palatine. Residents of the IL-9 can attend in support of their neighbors in the IL-6.


Wear Orange & Share a Photo


June 2 is Gun Violence Awareness Day, and for the second year in a row people across the country will show their commitment to ending gun violence by wearing orange—a bright color that demands to be seen and that signals there is more work to be done to end gun violence. Wear orange on Friday, June 2, and take a selfie. Share and tag photos #WearOrange to demonstrate your support, then visit Wear Orange online to learn what actions you can take to help bring gun violence to an end.


Share a Story


When legislators argue against the policies and proposed budget cuts being put forth by Republicans and the administration, their arguments are all the more powerful when they amplify the experiences of the everyday Americans all elected officials represent. That’s why it’s so important to share your stories and experiences with services that may be on the chopping block, like healthcare, public education, and environmental protections. Hands Off, a project with over fifteen partners including and Planned Parenthood, is providing a forum for Americans to share their experiences with core services. Take some time this week to share your own stories so that your representatives may better advocate for services that you and millions of other Americans rely on.


Join the Coalition for A Better 6th for a Town Hall with Special Guest Jan Schakowsky!

The Coalition for A Better Illinois 6th Hosts Adopt-a-District Town Hall with Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky on Saturday, June 3rd at Fremd High School!

Sign up at

Saturday, June 3rd
Doors open 4:30PM

Fremd High School Auditorium
1000 S Quentin Rd
Palatine, IL

Join the Coalition for a Better Illinois 6th as we host Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky for the first open town hall meeting with a sitting Member of the U.S. Congress in Illinois’ 6th congressional district in a very long time! Everyone is encouraged to attend, whether you live in the Illinois 6th or not.

Whether you want to learn about what’s going on in Washington, express your opinion about a national or local issue, find out where to sign up to get involved, or just ask your adopted Member of Congress a question, this is your opportunity!

Advance Registration Preferred


Action Steps 5/24/17

IL-9 Action Newsletter 5/24/17


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


Boots on the Ground


Immigrant rights continue to be under attack due to the current presidential administration. Local governing bodies are taking steps to protect the rights of all their residents, however, including SB 31 in the Illinois House—legislation, called the TRUST Act, that would set sensible, constitutional limits on how local police forces in Illinois interact with federal immigration officials. Contact your state representative as soon as possible to ask for their support of the TRUST Act and in preserving rights of all residents of Illinois. The legislation will come to a vote sometime before May 31, so call soon.


Have you considered running for office? Working on a campaign you believe in? More and more people are interested in standing for elected office as the resistance continues, which means trainings are popping up to help equip those interested with the skills and strategies to be successful. Northside Democracy for America will host a two-day training on July 29 and 30, with registration now open. The training will take place at the Irish American Heritage Center in Chicago, and it will cover topics like planning, finances, messaging, and getting out the vote.


Add Your Name


Despite years of research demonstrating that mandatory minimums for drug offenses—a core tenet of the War on Drugs—is ineffectual, inequitably applied, and racist, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is doubling down on the problematic policy. A unilateral return to mandatory minimums would be catastrophic for Illinois families and communities. Add your name to this ACLU petition against Sessions’s plans to return the United States to failed drug policy.


Proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency would include a reduction of the funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The GLRI, launched in 2010 with bipartisan support, is the major player in restoring and protecting the Great Lakes, which is the largest surface freshwater source in the world. Add your name to this petition to demonstrate the importance of the Great Lakes and the continued need to protect them through the GLRI.


Raise Your Consciousness


On June 19, cities across the country will participate in a Juneteenth Day of Action organized by the Black Land & Liberation Initiative and supported by the Movement for Black Lives. This event includes substantial planning and critical goals, as well as important historical context for understanding the action. Plan to join an informational call about the event on Wednesday, May 24, at 7 p.m., to get prepared for the nationwide Juneteenth Day of Action.


Action Steps 5/17/15

IL-9 Action Newsletter 5/17/17


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


Boots on the Ground


Children’s education and wellness are at risk due to policy decisions of the current Republican administration—and children are vulnerable both now and in the future, as effects of policy impact their rights and opportunities as they grow. Saturday offers an opportunity to involve youth in the resistance (or to show support for the youth in your life regardless of whether you have kids): the Chicago Children’s March for the Future will take place May 20, from 10-11:30 a.m., at Daley Plaza.


Too many Americans live paycheck to paycheck, unable to save for a stronger financial future or to respond to unplanned expenses like a health crisis or a car accident—all because the minimum wage in this country is too low to support the typical worker, let alone a family. Regardless of the numbers on your own paycheck, make a plan to stand in solidarity with workers demanding a minimum wage that is also a living wage. The March on McDonald’s, part of the nationwide Fight for $15, will take place Tuesday, May 23, from 4-6 p.m., at Daley Plaza.


Add Your Voice, Share Your Story


Both the Illinois House and the Illinois Senate have passed HB40, which would guarantee women’s reproductive rights and access to vital reproductive health care even in the event of federal legislation removing existing guarantees. Yet Gov. Rauner has threatened to veto the bill. Rauner’s threat is purely political and extremely disgraceful—despite running for office on a pro-women’s health and choice platform, the governor is now willing to sacrifice women’s health to court more conservative voters. Call the governor to make it known that he should sign the bill into law and defend the rights of women in Illinois. Reach Gov. Rauner at his Springfield (217-782-0244) or Chicago (312-814-2121) office.


When the president charged Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review national monuments, one of those included in the review was Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. Bears Ears National Monument is on land of great cultural significance for a number of Native American tribes, including over 100,000 individual cultural sites of importance. If you or someone you know has visited Bears Ears, or if you’re simply willing to add your voice to the calls to honor Native American tribes and traditions, add your support for maintaining the monument before the public comment period ends on May 26.


Raise Your Consciousness


If you continue to have questions and concerns about treatment of immigrants and refugees under this administration, make plans to attend an event put on by the Chicago Action Alliance and the 47th Ward Democrats on Monday, May 22, from 6:30-8 p.m., at Conrad Sulzer Regional Library in Chicago. “Land of the Free? The State of Immigration in Illinois” will feature a panel including a state representative, the executive director of the ACLU of Illinois, and attorneys active in immigrants’ rights in Illinois. Learn more about travel bans, ICE, and deportations from experts on how these policies are impacting Illinois.

Action Steps 5/11/17

IL-9 Action Newsletter 5/10/17


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


Add Your Voice


SB1657, called the Gun Dealer Licensing Act, would require that anyone in Illinois engaged in selling, leasing, or transferring firearms be licensed by the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Volunteers are needed to phone bank to constituents in districts where state legislators’ support of this bill is not yet secured. Phone banking efforts are being coordinated by G-PAC and the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence. For more information and to get started phone banking in support of reasonable gun laws, contact John Gruber with the Brady Campaign.


As the school year winds down, many families are thinking about summer rather than school lunches. Not so the new Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, who has suspended provisions aimed at ensuring school lunches are nutritious and aimed at supporting students to learn. Whether you have school-age children or not, grab a postcard and a pen and write to Perdue to make clear that you oppose such measures that make school lunches less healthy. Mail your postcard to Sec. Sonny Purdue, 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, D.C. 20250.


Support Climate Science


Employees of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have had a tough job so far under the new administration. Show your continued support for the dedicated workers at the EPA by participating in a Stand with EPA rally on Thursday, May 11, from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., at Federal Center and Plaza downtown. It’s all good vibes here to demonstrate that we know EPA employees continue to do difficult and needed work in the current political climate.


Show your support for climate action and insist that the United States continue to honor the Paris Agreement. Add your name to this petition from 350, an organization dedicated to working for climate justice and a better, more equitable future.


Raise Your Consciousness


Art often goes beyond the simply aesthetic—it can be a touchstone and a teaching tool, a way to engage with events and stories from our history. Head to the Midwest Buddhist Temple on Saturday, May 13, from 1-5 p.m., for “ReLocation: Quilting Japanese and African American Migration.” The 1940s saw an influx to Chicagoland of Japanese Americans (resettling after incarceration during WWII) and African Americans (moving from the South in the Great Migration). Three teaching artists will share examples of quilts that honor the cultures, experiences, and stories of these communities. The event is free, although RSVPs are requested.


Late Addition Bonus Action

This week’s five actions were already set when news broke of the president’s firing of FBI Director James Comey. This removal of the head of the FBI by the president, while that president and his administration are under scrutiny for possible collusion with a foreign entity, is unprecedented and raises concerns about whether the firing is motivated by a desire to cover up the administration’s actions. Add your name to a MoveOn petition started by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) to demand an independent, bipartisan commission to lead the investigation into the administration’s entanglements with Russia.



Action Steps 5/3/17

IL-9 Action Newsletter 5/3/17


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


Make Voting Easier


There are currently four separate bills (IL HB 626; IL HB 3182; IL HB 3695; IL SB 1933) that have been introduced in the Illinois House and Senate that would implement an automatic voter registration system in the state; that is, any person who successfully applies for or updates their Illinois driver’s license or state ID card would be notified that they will be registered to vote. This opt-out procedure streamlines voter registration for Illinois residents, rather than requiring them to fill out additional paperwork mailed to them after visiting the DMV. Contact your state senator and representative to urge them to support legislation that will simplify voter registration in Illinois; here’s a tool to find contact info for your state legislators. Read more about these efforts nationwide.


Write a Postcard


It’s well documented that reading expands your worldview, and reading fiction in particular helps you to develop greater empathy—both of which would benefit our commander in chief, who has said he doesn’t have time to read. Participate in “Read a Book, Mr. Trump,” an initiative created by author John Corey Whaley and supported by a growing number of additional authors, many of them writing for young adult audiences. “Read a Book, Mr. Trump” asks participants to send the president a postcard sharing a book he should read, as well as why he should read it. Photos of postcards will be shared online throughout May using the hashtag #ReadABookMrTrump. This action is particularly well suited to the whole family.


Raise Your Consciousness


Nasty Women Art Chicago is a one-night show and fundraiser in solidarity with similar events across the country. The show will feature artists who identify as “nasty women,” reclaiming the term the now-president hurled at Hillary Clinton at a debate last fall and embracing the values that it implies: belief in the necessity of women’s equality, racial justice, LGBTQ rights, and more. Nasty Women Art Chicago will take place Friday, May 5, from 5:30-10:30 p.m. at Moonlight Studios.


Civil rights lawyer and legal scholar Michelle Alexander will be in conversation with award-winning journalist Naomi Klein at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on Tuesday, May 9, at 7 p.m. The conversation will include such topics as mass incarceration, deportation, police violence, and the potential of mass movements to affect change in a democracy. This is a ticketed event, so be sure to get tickets if you plan to attend.


Income inequality remains a massive and pervasive issue in this country, including in the microcosm that is the IL-9. Set aside time this week to read “Escaping Poverty Requires Almost 20 Years With Nearly Nothing Going Wrong” from The Atlantic. The article explores the work of MIT economist Peter Temin describing just how difficult it is to do what the American Dream suggests: to pull oneself up by the bootstraps and fight the way out of poverty by hard work alone.


Action Steps 4/26/17

IL-9 Action Newsletter 4/26/17


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


Boots on the Ground


On Saturday, April 29, marches and demonstrations will happen all over the country as part of the People’s Climate March. The event aims to bring to the forefront demands for justice for both the climate and communities affected by it. Join the Chicago march, which will take place from 12-4 p.m., as it begins at Federal Plaza downtown.


Cap off your Saturday night in support of trans lives at the Unicorn Ball hosted by the Trans Liberation Collective. The event will take place on Saturday, April 29 from 6 p.m. to midnight at the Shapiro Ballroom. The Unicorn Ball will feature stories, performances, and music from and in support of the Chicago trans community. While there is no cover charge, trans and ally organizations will be fundraising for Trans Liberation Collective at the event. Anyone age 18 or older is welcome to attend.


On May Day, the R3 Coalition in Chicago will be demonstrating to underscore the connections between racial justice and economic justice—black communities in the Chicagoland area are both policed and affected by poverty at disproportionate levels. The march on May 1, beginning at 11 a.m., will start off at Ogden and Roosevelt before joining up with a citywide march in Union Park at 1 p.m. This action is in conjunction with the Movement for Black Lives.


Raise Your Consciousness


Add to your resistance toolkit by learning more about the role of advocacy in affecting policy. Make plans to attend “Advocacy 101,” a workshop led by Illinois State Representative Lou Lang and Action for a Better Tomorrow founder Georgia Logothetis, on Saturday, April 29, from 4-6 p.m. in Evanston. The event, which is open to the public, will discuss how advocacy is different from activism, when advocacy is the best tool for promoting policy reform, and how the Illinois state legislature works from an advocacy perspective. This workshop will be interactive.


Learn more about Cook County’s “sanctuary” status as well as the status and implications of existing immigration policy at a free public forum on Sunday, April 30, at 2:30 p.m. in Evanston. The Immigration Policy Forum, moderated by Jerome McDonnell from WBEZ’s Worldview, will feature guests from the Asylum & Immigration Law Clinic at DePaul University College of Law, the Council on American Islamic Relations, and the National Immigrant Justice Center as well as the Cook County Commissioner from the 13th District. Refreshments will be served at the forum.