a 5.5 min moment
When are the meetings?
Calendar of regularly scheduled City Council Meetings is here: https://columbus.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx
And, there are many additional meetings. Special town hall series, meetings for specific committees, etc. Short of asking people at the City, to keep up, I’d recommend signing up for emails and following on Facebook.
Speaking: The floor opens to the public at the end of each city council meeting.
“Residents who wish to speak during the meeting via WebEx must submit a speaker slip online. Online speaker slips can be submitted between 8am-3pm on the day of the meeting. To access the form, visit www.columbus.gov/council/information/Online-Speaker-Slip/.”
When you provide spoken testimony at a virtual city council meeting, your mic is activated but not your camera. You’re limited to three minutes, so keep it concise!
Written Testimony: Can be submitted to stand alone, or alongside your spoken testimony.
“During the emergency period, non-agenda speakers must submit their testimony to the City Clerk in writing by 3pm to email@example.com. All submitted testimony will be entered into the record.”
“Council urges residents to submit their testimony in writing for virtual meetings. Residents can submit written testimony for or against an ordinance to the City Clerk. It must be received by 3pm on the day of the meeting and emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.”
YouTube stream: https://www.youtube.com/user/cityofcolumbus
Facebook Live: https://www.facebook.com/ColsCouncil/
Phone: Residents can also listen live by calling toll-free 1-650-479-3207, access code: 180 133 1625
Have a Question?
I’ll answer it, or reach out to an expert to help!
graphic: Libby VanderPloeg
We’ve had almost a week to soak in the words of the true winner of the 2021 inauguration ceremony, poet laureate Amanda Gorman. But to President Biden’s credit, there was at least one line that struck me and stuck with me: “We will lead not merely by the example of our power but by the power of our example.”
When I was young I remember the presidential election being about Power with a capital P. About who got to be The Boss of the whole country! Now, with my more nuanced understanding of the role, in addition to Biden’s words, what rang through instead was a sense of public servitude.
The administration of 45th president gave us all the evidence we need to see that oppressive leadership doesn’t get things done.
Donald Trump’s army of formally and not-so-formally appointed sycophants put the repercussions of oppressive leadership style on a national stage. Regardless of your politics or your personal philosophy, it is undeniable that teams made up of folks competing for the ‘most agreeable with the boss’ award are not the ones that succeed.
Since this time last year, most Americans developed a deeper familiarity with oppression and its many manifestations. We’re exploring racial dynamics with a new lens, and better understanding social determinants of health. We’re looking at abusive landlording and even what it means to decolonize parenting, acknowledging that perhaps obedient isn’t the most important thing we should teach our children to be (h/t Dr. Stacey Patton).
We know that servant leadership isn’t reserved for public office. When managers practice servant leadership we honor our team members, allowing each person to bring all of their expertise, all of their talents, and all of their integrity to the table. My direct reports who have challenged me to be a better marketer and a better leader were most consistent in adding value to our work. Being agreeable is an asset, but it can’t be the only one that matters–lest we reinforce cultures that suppress critical thinking and the integral gift of respectful and constructive feedback.
Most of us were brought up in cultures of oppressive leadership styles, but now more than ever we know that we have the capacity for unlearning. We know, now, that unlearning is a practice, not something that happens overnight. Every day is a new opportunity for us to recalibrate toward servant leadership. A practice to take on for the sake of our organizations, our teams and ourselves.
Since culture is slow to change, everyone has a role to play and no one has time to waste. So we have to remember that we can lead from anywhere. With Biden’s occupation of the Presidency, our nation moved one step in the right direction, but we are still far from freedom. Putting pressure on people in power is a gift. It gives them more opportunity to be the best servant leader they can be. It’s on each of us to offer this gift, in this moment and in the years to come.
doing your part in dismantling white supremacy:
What is Accountability?
Barnard Center for Research on Women
Creative Interventions toolkit
a community-based approach to ending interpersonal violence
Join a Group
Showing Up for Racial Justice (everywhere)
Boycott: Grab Your Wallet list (big Trump supporters)
(Columbus, OH’s Friends of the FOP list seems to have been taken down)
Talk with the Kids you Love
And don’t stop. Even when you’re tried. Even when you’re bored. Even when you feel like your part is so small. You contribution is needed, always.
‘You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time.’
— Angela Davis
Ask for help if you need:
Since we can’t take progress for granted, civic engagement is a never ending obligation. Considering this fact could overwhelm you, or it could open up a window of compassion for yourself. For your humanity and the other critical roles you play besides that of Engaged Citizen. This responsibility isn’t going anywhere, it will be here when you can get back to it.
When life knocks you on your ass, throw yourself a pity party, replace the rug that was destroyed by said party and Begin Again.
I wasn’t successful in posting a Sustainable Step a week but I loved this process, I learned a lot and I think the ideas I shared still hold value for folks wondering what tf to do about the dangerously polarized space we live in. I’ll keep sharing my list of sustainable steps for you to revisit or to share with anyone who shares a sentiment along the lines of:
“I feel like I should get involved but I don’t know where to start”
I’d love to refine my suggested calls to action, so feedback is still welcome. Civic engagement is a practice we get to keep improving. We’re doing our best and I’m proud of you for whatever steps you’re able to take to engage in the larger issues that impact our world.
- Think of a group who is marginalized, remember the helpers who are doing right by them, and send your money there.
Do your research, of course–don’t fall for a scam. A reputable org should be able to tell you what will be done with your donation–and the org should be purpose-built to do it efficiently. For most groups monetary donations are the best way to make the biggest impact.
- Then, reflect on the propriety of this solution being addressed by individuals sharing their hard working incomes instead of a real, systemic answer to a critical need.
3. If it pisses you off that you are contributing to a cause that should never be at the mercy of private donors like you in the first place, tell your reps.
Not everyone has the capacity to give. But for some, skipping your matcha habit for a week and sending $25 to a charity is more realistic than signing up for a volunteer shift. Figure out what’s sustainable for you, and whether it involves charitable giving with a side of “Dear elected official: WTF.” If you’re reading this, it probably does!
You’ve done your research and know where you stand on the issues and the candidates. As you make your game plan, be sure you have all of the details you need. You’ve come too far to get turned away on election day!
For the most part, the laws that determine voting procedure are determined by state. I’ll give example info for the state of Ohio.
Here are four easy-to-make election mistakes, and how to avoid them (spoiler–it’s doing your research):
1. Getting an absentee-by-mail ballot and showing up at your polling place.
In Ohio, if you request an absentee ballot in the mail and then arrive to vote in person, you’ll have to cast a provisional ballot. (and yes, if it’s your only option, you should cast a provisional ballot)
Let’s say you got an absentee ballot but you forgot to buy stamps or for whatever reason you didn’t get your ballot sent in in time. You can still deliver your ballot to your county board of elections on election day.
2. Missing a Valid ID
Requirements vary by state and can change over time. Ohio voter ID requirements can be found here.
If the address on your driver’s license is old, no problem. If your expiration date has passed, however, you need another form of identification. If you have a govt-issued photo ID that is not a driver’s license, the address must be current.
When in doubt–bring a back up form of ID to be sure you are able to cast your ballot.
3. Missing the Poll Closing Time
Even if you think you know when the polls are open, double check! Here is the Voting Schedule for Ohio. In the final days leading up to Ohio elections, the early in-person voting hours get shorter.
And for election day voters, here is a map of poll hours by state.
Ohio polls are open 6:30 am – 7:30 pm. If you’re in line by 7:30 you get to cast your ballot.
4. Heading to your Usual Polling Place sans Research
Double check your polling place at Gettothepolls.com. You might need to head to a different place than last time!
feature photo: Alicia Steels
Have you made goals, plans or broader intentions but are struggling to follow through? Share those ambitions with someone in your life.
I believe that sharing your intentions–just putting them out into the universe–sets you up for success. That things are more likely to go your way if you just make your ambitions known. But if you’re not the crystal-charging, sage burning, karmic energy believing type, here are some practical reasons to share, too:
- intrapersonal – you’ll feel like an ass if you told someone you were going to do something, and then didn’t.
- interpersonal – you’ll look like an ass if you don’t follow through.
Okay real talk you should always exercise self compassion. No one is perfect. But we know having a workout buddy is the only way some of us actually get our butts to the gym, and there’s no shame in that.
- Once you’ve shared your intention, it’s easier to ask for help making it come true. Maybe you need a reminder, a check in, some encouragement, a proof read, a practice venue… Remember when I said to ask for help? Here’s a nice warm up for that.
- Create your tribe. We talked about finding your tribe. But if you can’t join one, you can build one. Perhaps the person you talk to wants to be a part of it.
- And when you do the thing you set out to do, you’ll have someone to celebrate with.
- ConnectionsIt’s all about who you know, right? If your friend/neighbor/colleague knows what you’re up to, maybe they also know someone who can amplify your efforts, send some resources your way, or mentor you.
Okay. You’re ready to socialize your game plan. Now, who to share it with? Someone who supports you. Someone you speak to often. Someone who tells you the truth.
I took a Women’s Health in Global Perspective Anthropology class a couple of years ago, and some of the content was brutal. We read books on female genital mutilation, female infanticide as a product of son preference, how the response to the AIDS crisis often ignored women, particularly women of color… Heavy, systemic stuff. To soothe our resulting intrapersonal crises, our professor integrated a section at the end of each class to cover a grassroots organization that worked to address the issue we were discussing.
As bad as things get, there is always someone to look to for hope and inspiration. Hope that there are people like you who are standing for the same thing you believe in, and inspiration to get off the sidelines and become a mover and shaker yourself.
It’s too easy to find media coverage of the scary people, events and systems that keep you up at night. It takes a little more intention to get enough of the good stuff. We’ve talked about a balanced media diet before, and this is another dimension of finding the right mix.
Fill your tank with inspirational stories–not just the infuriating ones. If you can find local groups to follow (and later engage with!) that’s even better. You might just watch a documentary or scan some articles, and social media gets you access to some pretty impressive people, but connecting with someone you relate with IRL is more powerful.
On that note–what are you putting out into the world? I can admit I’m more likely to use my platforms to vent rather than share the good stuff. The same intention we apply to our content consumption can have a role in what we decide to share, too.
No matter what you are feeling, you are not alone.
What kind of helpers and good news resources are you going to look for? Let me know and I’ll point you to any I’m aware of.
Feature Photo by Jon Tyson
I’m a fan of any tool or community that makes it easier to engage with your rep, but sometimes these resources give lame advice.
A few weeks ago (before multiple women came forward to women have come forward to share their stories of sexual assault at the hands of this nominee) I wanted to call my Senators to ask them to vote against Brett Kavanaugh.
I went to a popular civic action resource and found a script for calling Rob Portman’s office. The script prompted me to demand that Senator Portman defends reproductive freedom. The problem was, Senator Portman is hostile toward women’s right to choose. These talking points weren’t going to cut it.
. . .
You need to advocate for your cause even when it doesn’t align with your rep’s. Yes, your elected official should listen no matter how much they agree with you. But there is an opportunity to make your ask count for more:
1. Know where your rep stands on the general issue.
Is this senator on the record regarding the specific vote or the broader issue? Are you on the same page?
Maybe you don’t agree with their stance. In my case, I was focused on the supreme court nominee’s stance on abortion. Again, we’re in pre-sexual assault allegation land. Stay with me. So abortion rights were a primary concern, but I knew that wasn’t my opportunity to connect with my anti-choice representative.
2. Explore all angles of the topic.
When you call your rep, you want to present as a constituent who might be on their side. When you have something in common, you can come off as someone who they might be able to win over (or retain). Propose about mutual wins instead of digging your heals in on the issues that divide you.
So I wasn’t going to resonate by advocating for reproductive freedoms. I considered other topics of concern regarding the nomination. I knew Portman had vocalized concern with the Commander in Chief. And that Kavanaugh had expressed reluctance toward holding the President accountable for breaking the law. I felt like I was onto something.
I figured presenting first and foremost as a pro-choice advocate would probably have gotten me written off. Don’t get me wrong–I believe there is absolutely a time and place to advocate for fundamental rights that we believe in. But engaging more strategically gives us a better chance of being heard on related-but-separate issues such as this.
3. Bring up your official’s platform promises.
They’ve all got em. Did your rep commit to reducing opioid-related deaths in your state? Bring it up. Say, “I know [Senator] _____ is a champion for _______.” Then make your point for how their vote can make good on the promise they have already made.
Since this Supreme Court nominee demonstrated hostility to a healthcare policy that makes mental health and addiction recovery services more accessible, I tuned into that.
. . .
If you’re going to take a few minutes of your day to appeal to your representative, throw in a moment to consider how to reflect their interests. This takes more work when you’re calling an elected official who sits across the aisle, but it’s a worthwhile investment to make your engagement count.
The same could be said to appeal to a neighbor or family member you don’t always agree with. Connect in ways that resonate with them–or risk broadening the gap. The need for empathy in our communities is increasingly urgent, and everyone has an opportunity to practice.