Making Our Voices Heard

On April 1st we attended an Environmental Caucus meeting, focused around our university, that was promoted by the sustainability department. The goal was to come up with ways to make Northern Arizona University more sustainable with realistic goals for the near future. Everyone around us was either faculty, from a city department, or was a graduate student. We were surrounded by people who have the power to enact the change we desperately need to see.

All of us separated into different work groups. We chose to offer our ideas in the implementation and adaptation group. This was a really exciting group to be a part of, because we were able to give our ideas to someone who wants to see our ideas implemented. One of the ideas we provided was to utilize punch cards to incentivize people to bring their own cup at popular coffee shops around campus. In fruition, every time a customer brings their own reusable cup at the Starbucks on campus, they would receive a stamp. With enough stamps they could then receive a free drink (in their reusable cup!).

In a room full of relatively powerful people in our community, we were able to talk about our ideas in a place where our voices were heard. Involvement within your local community is more important than you might think.

Another community event we attended this week was on April 4th, where we participated in the national protest that demanded the release of the Mueller report. These protests were arranged just one day after Democrats in the House Judiciary Committee voted to authorize subpoenas for special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

We went to this protest, to not only take a stand against the hidden aspects of our government, but also to get involved with our community. In our eyes, activism at the community level is extremely important—you are able to make your voice heard to those who going to listen and have a greater chance of making actual change. It’s not just talking to people through a screen, its much needed human interaction regarding important community, state, and national issues.

We had the opportunity to talk to some of the attendees of the protest and we were able to hear how members of the community feel about what is going on in our government right now. Notably, one protester explained to us in the midst of shouting on the side of the street that, “you need to have thicker skin.”

This same woman told us a story of a different protest she attended in Durango, Colorado, against Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination into the Supreme Court. She explained that while partaking in a peaceful nonviolent protest, a man came up to her and said “you are garbage and you should be shot.” We were appalled by this. A majority of the work people on the left do is nonviolent, resisting violent acts by the right, so why are we generally confronted with animosity?

Despite peaceful protests commonly countered with outrage, this particular one had an overall positive response. The majority of those who were driving by were enthusiastically honking and yelling support as they drove off into the rest of their days. A realization we both had while holding signs was that many people are in support of these issues; however, very few are actively trying to combat them. This is another aspect of why community activism is so important. If every person driving by got out of their cars and joined us, we would have made an even bigger impact—together.

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