Living in Grand Rapids has made me move closer to being a “political” creature. I’ve always cared about issues of social, economic, racial and environmental justice. I make a few small gestures towards being a better person and making the world a better place to live in; buying organic food, mainting a (mostly) vegetarian lifestyle, vote in every election I can, recycle my trash, use public transportation, create articles and videos on topics I support. Lately I have found that all of these small things I have been doing are a good start, but that there are plenty more opportunities to make a positive impact in my community.
In this city, it is easy to find small causes to care about, to meet people concerned about important issues, to have easy access to ideas and institutions (like GRIID) that are doing valuable work in the community.
My love affair with the Rapidian has definitely had an impact on my interest in politics and activism. Many of the people I respect most in Grand Rapids’ creative community have posted wonderful articles there, on a wide variety of topics.
Because of my proximity to all of these opportunities, and to the interesting people in the community that are focused on making some positive change happen in this world, I have found myself becoming increasingly engaged in activism in the community.
I attended a local protest in response to Israeli violence against a flotilla bringing supplies to needy Palestinians. Governor Rick Snyder‘s monkey business in Lansing sparked a series of protest actions across the state, including the one I attended at the WOOD TV studio when he held a “town hall meeting“. When Westboro Baptist Church threatened to protest the funeral of former First Lady Betty Ford, I wrote an article about T.E.A.M., a local nonprofit that quickly formed a counter-protest to shield people from the ignorance of these inbred rednecks (officially a hategroup as per the Southern poverty Law Center)
When Occupy Grand Rapids sprang up into existence, I leapt at the opportunity to cover the story. I quckly became immersed in the movement. I created articles, videos, and several social media streams to spread the word. I took part in rallies and marches. Eventually I started organizing some of the events. I generated PR kits and articles to promote the events, and even made some appearances on TV, radio, and the front page of my hometown paper!
For me, the positive feedback of my peers, and of the people in the community that I meet, means a lot to me. It gets me excited to make people take notice of something I feel is important. I love it when someone tells me that they really liked something that I created, that it meant something to them, that I persuaded them to see thngs differently.
Quite possibly, the only thing I like more than getting positive feedback is the the negative responses that inevitably come from people scared of change. For some people, seeing that you are doing something positive in this world only reinforces the fact that they’ve been wrong the whole time. Some people can not handle this, so they attack you, distort the facts, launch ad hominem attacks, correct your grammar, or just talk trash ad nauseum. For a good(?) example of what i mean, the comments section after any MLive article (especially if it is about LGBT, minorities, welfare, etc) is the de facto home of intolerance and hate speech in Michigan.
I’ve always said that it doesn’t matter what they say, as long as they’re talking about me I know that I’m doing something right.
I hope I make a whole lot more people talk smack about me in 2012!
- 7 Places the 99% Will Fight Back Hard in 2012 (alternet.org)