Getting involved in grassroots organizing
by Kerin Cantwell '85
img_1225I have become involved a truly grassroots group called Onward Toward Progress (OTP) that was formed by an incredible woman, Angel Trienen (first row, black dress), right after the 2016 election.  Friends and friends/acquaintances of friends have joined to expand the group to 500+ supporters.  OTP has raised funds recently in support of a candidate in California's 25th Congressional District race.  The funds have gone toward creating PSAs that explains how to register to vote and how to vote by mail (in English and Spanish) and toward paying two young canvassers to knock on doors in the district.  In addition, group members have gone door-knocking ourselves in Lancaster and Palmdale.  This photo was taken on October 28th, my third time canvassing the district in the last six weeks, at the Lancaster satellite office (I'm in the first row, white t-shirt). 
Like many Americans, I have not been very politically active for most of my life (a little canvassing for Obama in 2008, but that is pretty much it). But the chaos, hypocrisy, and lack of respect for truth, the rule of law, and political norms of the current administration and Congress made me feel that I, personally, really had to do something about it. The actions of our government in the last two years have made me feel that our democracy is threatened, which I would have found hard to believe even a few years ago.  This country has never been perfect, but we used to aspire to higher values and principles, and were unified, at least in those aspirations, regardless of political party.   I attended the first Women's March, the gun-control march, the anti-family separation march, an ACLU teach-in and did some phone banking, but nothing has made me feel a sense of community and impact more than this group, especially talking to the people who live in the 25th.  Every single person who I encountered canvassing has been polite and civil, and that includes people from both parties.  It gives me hope for America and our basic decency, despite what we see and hear in the news.
Remember that Election day is Tuesday, November 6th!  It's important to cast your vote and make your voice heard.