Ben Head's blog

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North Carolina recently repealed HB2, commonly known as the “bathroom bill,” under immense pressure from organizations who pulled their business engagements from the state due to the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and demand that they commit to withholding events and championships in the state until all discriminatory laws are repealed.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)

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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.

Action Steps 3/15/17

IL-9 Action Newsletter 3/15/17


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


Boots on the Ground


The revised executive order on travel goes into effect on March 16. Despite some of the toned down restrictions in this revised executive order, it is still effectively a Muslim ban, affecting people from six Muslim-majority countries and halting intake of refugees. On March 16, from 4:30-7:30 p.m., a press conference and demonstration in protest of the order will take place downtown. The demonstration stands in opposition to the Muslim ban as well as the increase in raids by ICE.


If you’re looking for more ways to get involved in resistance work locally, plan to attend Chicago Engaged! Words into Action! on Saturday, March 18, from 2-4 p.m. in Chicago. The event, hosted by Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey and Better Together Chicago, is a free advocacy fair that will feature local organizations focused on issues of immigration, health care, LGBTQ rights, and more. Talk to organizations already doing the work and learn how you can help.


Add Your Name


With the rapid pace of alarming news resulting from this administration, it can be difficult to keep abreast of persistent threats to Americans’ civil liberties. The current administration is still discussing the creation of a Muslim registry—a list of all Muslims in the United States, regardless of citizenship status. Resist this unconstitutional idea and make clear your willingness to protect your Muslim neighbors by adding your name to #RegisterMeFirst, a project from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).


Share Your Story


The White House has put out the call for Americans to share their stories about the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. It’s clear the White House is hoping to hear from people unhappy with the ACA, despite the fact that the majority of Americans approve of the law. Join organizations hoping to overwhelm the comment form with positive experiences of the ACA by adding your own story.


Raise Your Consciousness


Folk Fights Back is a musician-led organization dedicated to raising funds for and consciousness around critical issues in the current administration. On Sunday, March 19, from 6-10 p.m. at the American Legion Post 42 in Evanston, the Chicago chapter will be hosting Folk Fights Back for Immigrants and Refugees. Tickets are a suggested donation of $20, with all proceeds going to RefugeeOne, the largest refugee resettlement agency in Illinois. Wrap up your weekend listening to music, learning about an important organization, and supporting immigrants and refugees in Illinois.

Action Steps 3/8/17

IL-9 Action Newsletter 3/8/17


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


Boots on the Ground


The Chicago Chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) is meeting on Thursday, March 9, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Monthly meetings are open to all, whether new to racial justice work or a longtime activist or ally. This meeting will focus on the Coalition for Police Contracts Accountability. The event will include free on-site childcare.


The ACLU’s new People Power initiative is ramping up with a huge action event. On Saturday, March 11, at 3:30 p.m., sites and homes across the country will livestream a Resistance Training. The training aims to engage volunteers at the grassroots level to resist and make change in their communities. Fill out the form to find an event near you.


The sentiments and action of the Day Without A Woman strike and protests are not limited to March 8. Join the Chicago International Women’s Day for Equality, Justice & Power in a demonstration Sunday, March 12, from 12-3:30 p.m., which will take place in front of the Trump International Hotel downtown. Speakers from over half a dozen local organizations will speak about building a united, intersectional movement to resist discrimination and patriarchy.


Write a Letter


Send a note to your local school district to encourage them to allow students to use the restroom and locker room that corresponds with their gender identity. The current administration has overturned Obama’s protections for transgender students, and the Supreme Court will not be hearing arguments in the case of Gavin Grimm, but you can insist that your local school district respect the rights of all their students, including those who are transgender.


Raise Your Consciousness

Chances are you’ll continue to hear people talking about the newest executive order on travel. Take a few minutes to really educate yourself on the new order; this annotated version from NPR is excellent. Be conversant on how this order is different from the first released in January, and be prepared to talk about how this order is similarly harmful to immigrants and refugees headed for the United States.


sign up to take back your government

Sign up to volunteer at any of the office locations below, or email to set up a call party at your house or local coffee shop!

Click Here to Sign up for Lincoln Park (new!)

Click Here to Sign up for Evanston

Click Here to Sign up for Skokie

Click Here to Sign up for Rogers Park

Click Here to Sign up for Edgewater 

More locations coming soon!

The next election for most voters in Illinois is April 4th, 2017.  Most people aren’t even aware that these elections are happening—but GOP Super PACs and dark money organizations are paying close attention.

For too long, the GOP has organized and beaten us at the local level—mayors, school boards, township trustees—and that local dominance is part of the reason they now control  the White House, Congress, and the Governor’s mansion.  If we want to reclaim our country and deliver it from the forces of misogyny, racism, hatred, fear, and bigotry, we have to start at the true grassroots: local elections.

While these elections may be local, their consequences are not.  Mayors determine whether or not the local police force will be part of Trump’s deportation force or if they’ll stand against it as a sanctuary city.  School boards decide not only how much funding your public schools get, but how things like climate change and evolution are taught.  Trustees determine whether or not families in crisis have the resources they need to get back on their feet. 

We can’t vote Trump out of office until 2020.  We can’t vote Rauner out of office until 2018.  But on April 4th, 2017 we can make a real impact right here in our own communities.  These are smaller elections so every vote—and every volunteer—counts even more.

Across Illinois, outside groups are spending money and influence to recruit, train, and support candidates who push an extreme agenda that includes cutting or eliminating food bank resources, mental health services, programs for the severely disabled and children in crisis.  These candidates are often anti-choice, anti-worker, and anti-immigrant and seekito enact Trump and Rauner’s agenda at the local level.

This is our chance to make a difference—not in two years, not in four years, but right here and right now.

There are enough people who vote Democratic in Presidential elections that if a fraction of them came out to vote in their local races, we’d win every race by a mile.  Unfortunately, most of these Democratic voters don’t come out to vote in municipal elections.

That’s where we come in.  We are going to shine a light on these important elections to help create voter enthusiasm and participation.  Help us run a comprehensive Get Out The Vote phone bank operation!  We’re going to call fellow Democrats in these areas, educate them about the upcoming election, and get their commitment to get out and vote!