Ben Head's blog

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.


Action Steps 4/19/17

IL-9 Action Newsletter 4/19/17


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


Boots on the Ground


Whether or not you’ve been following the progress of HB40 in the Illinois House, now is the time to take serious action to ensure state legislators know it is vital that they support legislation that will preserve Illinois women’s access to safe, comprehensive reproductive health coverage, even in the event of an overturning of Roe v. Wade at the federal level. Volunteers are needed to canvass door-to-door, phone bank at local offices, and host phone bank house parties to urge pro-choice residents to contact their legislators to support HB40. You can choose an option that suits your schedule. Get more information and sign up to volunteer here.


Join the hundreds of thousands of scientists and science supporters around the country who will participate in nationwide events on Saturday, April 22 for the March for Science. The Chicago march downtown will start with a rally at 10 a.m. on S. Columbus Dr. just south of E. Jackson Dr., followed by the march at 11 a.m. down Columbus Drive to the Museum Campus. An expo will follow the march so that participants may continue to celebrate and advocate for the importance of science.


Add Your Name, Add Your Voice


North Carolina recently repealed HB2, commonly known as the “bathroom bill,” under immense pressure from organizations who pulled their business engagements from the state due to the discriminatory law. Businesses who had been boycotting the state, including the NCAA, then agreed to once again conduct business in North Carolina. Yet the state replaced this first law with HB142, a law that makes it illegal for local governments to pass ordinances that protect their residents from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Tell the NCAA that HB142 still creates a discriminatory environment in North Carolina, and demand that they commit to withholding events and championships in the state until all discriminatory laws are repealed. The state took notice when the NCAA pulled its support before, and the organization should maintain their ground on expecting non-discriminatory partners for their business.


The Environmental Protection Agency, under the direction of Scott Pruitt, is taking steps toward removing vital regulations that protect both the environment and the wellbeing of residents of our country. The EPA has called for comments on existing regulations as they evaluate which they might repeal, replace, or modify. These regulations cover things like air pollutants from vehicles, use of toxic pesticides, and standards for radiation protection—all of which have significant impact on the environment and humans. It’s clear the EPA expects to receive comments from businesses and special interest groups for whom regulations are an obstacle. Join citizens in favor of regulations that protect our planet and our health in adding comments in support of existing regulations. Don’t let the only voices the EPA hears be those of special interests.


Raise Your Consciousness

Have you been feeling overwhelmed by the state of our country? The pace of the news? The desire to continually participate in the resistance? Take some time to read this piece from Slate about self care—a term that has recently had connotations of pampering oneself, but that has its roots in the civil rights movement and has returned to the realm of radical action in the post-election landscape. Learn about the concept and take steps to preserve your own self and wellbeing. To quote Audre Lorde: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”


Action Steps 4/13/17

IL-9 Action Newsletter 4/12/17


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


Get Involved


Are you looking for strategies to be more involved in the resistance in a virtual capacity? Organizing For Action is hosting an online training on this very topic. Digital Organizing 101, part of a series of trainings called Turning Action into Organizing, will take place on Wednesday, April 12, at 7 p.m. You’ll need to register to participate; registrants will be emailed a call-in number and PIN to take part in the live training event.


Talk With Your Representatives


Congress is on a state work period until April 21, with federal elected officials traveling home to their districts to meet with their constituents.


Jan is holding a Town Hall meeting on April 18th at 6:30pm at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights. Click here to RSVP!


Find out when and where your other elected officials will be making an appearance using the Find A Town Hall search function from the Town Hall Project. Once you see your officials’ recess schedule, make plans to attend at least one town hall or other appearance. Better yet, bring friends and plan to ask questions about the issues that matter most to you. While you’re making plans to visit your officials, also look to see when your state representatives will be hosting town halls or office hours. Use the ACLU’s tool to find your Illinois legislators’ availability, then make a plan to show up and discuss issues that are important to you.


Ask your representatives to back HB40, a state bill currently awaiting a vote that would guarantee Illinois residents access to comprehensive reproductive health care even in the event of legislative changes at the federal level.


You can volunteer to support HB40 and protect reproductive health care in Illinois by signing up here



Boots on the Ground


Demonstrators around the country will be marching on April 15 in the Tax March, an event to demand that the president release his tax returns—or that Congress take action to demand as much. Only by seeing the president’s full tax returns can the American people understand whether special and foreign interests may be influencing our executive branch of government. The Chicago demonstration will take place on Saturday, April 15, at 11 a.m. downtown. Register as an attendee at the official Tax March site.


Raise Your Consciousness


Poetry can be a soothing balm or an inspiring flame. Whether you’re looking for calm, motivation, or camaraderie in what remains of the first 100 days of this new administration, poetry can provide that much-needed quality. The Poetry Foundation has put together a list of poems of protest, resistance, and empowerment for easy browsing—take a few minutes each morning this week to read one and set your mindset for the day.


Repro Rights Phone Banks

Sign Up to Phone Bank for Reproductive Rights!



Sign up for phone banking in Rogers Park (Tuesdays and Wednesdays)

Sign up for phone banking in Edgewater (Mondays and Wednesdays)

Sign up for phone banking in Skokie (Mondays and Wednesdays)

Sign up for phone banking in Evanston (Mondays and Wednesdays)

Sign up for phone banking in New Trier (Mondays and Wednesdays)

Sign up for phone banking in Lincoln Park (Mondays and Wednesdays)

Sign up for phone banking in Arlington Heights (coming soon!)


Protect Reproductive Rights!

Sign Up to Fight for Reproductive Rights!


Sign up to canvass door-to-door (Saturdays)

Sign up to host your own phone bank house party (Any Day)

Sign up to phone bank at a local office (Weekdays)



Abortion and birth control are not as safe in Illinois as you might think.  That’s why we need your help to fight.

President Trump and his anti-choice cabal—including recently-appointed anti-choice Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch—are working night and day to overturn Roe v. Wade and take reproductive freedom away from American women.  If they’re successful, things will be especially bad in Illinois.

Illinois has a “trigger” law that will immediately criminalize abortion in the event that Roe v. Wade is overturned, known as the Illinois Abortion Trigger Law.  Pro-choice advocates around the state are coming together to support legislation called HB40, which would repeal the awful Illinois Abortion Trigger Law.  HB40 will ensure that reproductive freedom is secure in Illinois—no matter what Donald Trump and his anti-choice allies do in Washington!

In order to pass HB40 and secure reproductive rights for women in Illinois, we need a few more votes in the Illinois State Legislature.  To get those votes and pass this bill, we need pro-choice volunteers from across Illinois to band together and fight back by contacting pro-choice voters in target districts and urging them to contact their representative in Springfield. 

We need your help contacting thousands of pro-choice voters across the state through phone banking and door-to-door canvassing.  We will give you all of the information and materials you need to be a champion for choice in Illinois.

Will you join us?

Sign up to canvass door-to-door (Saturdays)

Sign up to host your own phone bank house party (Any Day)

Sign up to phone bank at a local office (Weekdays)


Action Steps 4/5/17

IL-9 Action Newsletter 4/5/17


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


Write a Letter


We’re now one quarter of the way to mid-term elections in November 2018, or one-eighth of the way to the next presidential election in November 2020. Now is a great time to write a letter to the editor of your newspaper of choice to make sure that topics you care about stay at the forefront of discussion. Take a few minutes to take stock of the issues that have resonated most with you and to think about your ongoing concerns and hopes in these areas. Write some notes and talking points to clarify and focus your message, then submit your letter to your preferred paper. You can submit directly to the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times online.


Get Involved


Are you looking for ways to get more involved in resistance work? Whether you’re eager to channel your interest and effort into resistance volunteer projects, are curious about jobs in this work, or you want to meet other Illinoisans dedicated to the resistance, plan to attend the Illinois Resistance Resource Fair on Saturday, April 8, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. in Chicago. The event will include over 50 organizations and activists who are, or will be soon, actively recruiting for volunteers and employees. If you’re looking for employment opportunities, be sure to have your updated resume on hand.


Money Talks


Do you consider yourself a conscientious consumer? Have you considered ways in which some of your favorite companies may be conducting business in a manner that doesn’t align with your values against hate speech, sexual harassment, and more? Read up on brands’ recent efforts to pull their online ads from spaces associated with hate speech, sexism, and extremist propaganda, then make a plan for how to reach out to your own favorite companies when you notice their ads in reprehensible places. Taking a screenshot of the ad on an offensive site, then Tweeting or sharing it with the company on Facebook along with a complaint, can be a strong start.


Raise Your Consciousness


If you’re looking for ways to better support your Muslim neighbors, understanding the pervasiveness of anti-Muslim sentiment is a good place to start. Identifying anti-Muslim bias will be the topic of part one of a workshop titled Communities Against Islamophobia, which will take place Sunday, April 9, from 12:30-3 p.m. in Chicago. Those interested in attending are asked to register in advance so organizers can have an accurate head count to prepare for the light meal offered just before the workshop begins.

Are you finding yourself overwhelmed by the volume and pace of political news in the past months? Being intentional about your media consumption habits is important if you want to stay informed without becoming overburdened by constant updates. Two great podcasts from National Public Radio—one a little over a year old, the other brand new—can help you do just that. The NPR Politics Podcast has new 20-45 minute episodes 2-3 times each week, each featuring NPR political reporters from all areas of expertise talking about the political news of the moment, its context, and its potential impacts. The new podcast Up First will appear in your podcast feed every weekday morning with a brief (10 minutes maximum) overview of the major news you’ll want to know as you begin your day. Up First spans from politics to pop culture, allowing us all a chance to step out of the politics-only bubble if we need the help.



Action Steps 3/29/17

IL-9 Action Newsletter 3/29/17


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


Boots on the Ground


Governor Rauner will be attending a fundraiser in Chicago this week—ironic that he’s raising money while he and his administration are responsible for the lack of a state budget in Illinois. Rauner’s appearance at the Governor’s Dinner will be met by constituents demanding he fulfill the responsibilities of his office, including signing a budget so that vital state agencies can conduct their work. Plan to join the demonstration on Thursday, March 30, at 5 p.m., outside the Hilton downtown.


April 4 is Equal Pay Day, and residents of the greater Chicagoland area will be demonstrating for equal pay for equal work downtown. Equal Pay Day takes place every April to symbolize the extent of the pay gap—the date signifies how far into the new year women typically need to work in order to earn what a male would earn in the previous year (that is, it takes a woman more than 15 months to earn what men do in 12). Register to participate in the demonstration on Tuesday, April 4, from 12-1 p.m., at Daley Plaza downtown.


Raise Your Consciousness


Interested in staying informed on the opposition to the repeal of the Affordable Care Act? Just because Republicans withdrew their American Health Care Act from a vote last week does not mean the Affordable Care Act is safe indefinitely. Participate in a call on Thursday, March 30, at 7 p.m., through Organizing for Action (if you’re not yet a member, create a free account) to learn more about actions to take to defend health care coverage, in particular during the upcoming Congressional recess.


The Mass Incarceration Task Force from The People’s Lobby and Reclaim Chicago will be leading an education program about bail bond reform on Monday, April 3, from 7-10 p.m., at Heartland Cafe. The program, part of a Bail Reform Popular Education Series, will explore the ways in which the current criminal justice system in Illinois and Chicago treat poverty as a crime in and of itself and simultaneously cause harm to communities of color. Plan to attend to become more familiar with the ways in which our criminal justice system perpetuates inequity and to learn about steps to take to demand a more just system.

You may have seen media coverage around #findourgirlsDC—girls of color have gone missing across Washington, D.C., in recent weeks. Regardless of the coverage you’ve seen thus far, it’s important to recognize that the disappearance of girls of color is not a new or escalating issue; these disappearances have been occurring steadily for years, and in cities across the country (including Chicago). Read this special report from Essence to get a better sense of the full scope of this issue that touches on both safety and systemic racism.


Action Steps 3/23/17

IL-9 Action Newsletter 3/22/17


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


Boots on the Ground


Speaker of the House Paul Ryan will be in Chicago this week for a fundraiser and to promote the American Health Care Act, the proposed law to replace the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare). The American Health Care Act will result in higher insurance costs and loss of coverage for many Americans. The resistance will meet Ryan’s visit with a protest on March 23, from 4-7:30 p.m. The demonstration will open with a rally at Federal Plaza before moving to the Chicago Club, where Ryan’s fundraiser is being held.


Evanston residents involved in the ACLU’s People Power will meet with the police chief on March 24, at 10 a.m. The meeting is planned to discuss Evanston’s sanctuary cities ordinance, in particular in relation to the ACLU’s 9 model policies and rules for law enforcement. RSVP to attend the meeting and advocate for the safety and welcome of all Evanston residents.


Raise Your Consciousness


Make plans to get more familiar with Illinois governance this weekend. Illinois State Representative Lou Lang will be presenting a workshop titled “Civics 101” on March 26, from 12-2 p.m. at Oakton Community Center in Skokie. The event, which is open to the public, will provide an all-ages introduction to government and legislative process in Illinois. Families are encouraged to attend together to learn more about how our government operates.


Sharing of false, misleading, and biased news—which collectively are being called “fake news”—has been a major problem lately, with misinformation spreading in particular over social media platforms. Be a responsible consumer of news by considering your own reading and sharing habits, especially as they may influence others’ news consumption. A study from the Media Insight Project reveals that who shares an article has a greater influence on whether a person considers that news credible than does the source of the news coverage. That is, if you trust your best friend, you’re more likely to trust a news source they share regardless of the credibility of the source. Use this study as a reminder to be thoughtful and discerning when you read the news, but to also think carefully about what you share in your networks.


Share Your Story

The president’s proposed budget includes the defunding of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, an institution that supports libraries and museums across the country through funding, research, and best practices. Tweet your support for librarians and museums using #saveIMLS to share a story of what libraries and museums have added to your life. Better yet, visit your local public library or museum. If you haven’t visited the library in a while, make sure to update your library card account during your visit.