One of the environmental organizations I really like is asking people to help advertise their facebook page. The organization, Citizen’s Climate Lobby Canada, focuses on creating the political will that allows politicians to enact the policies we need, such as a carbon fee and dividend. Clicking “like” on their facebook page is a very small quick thing people can do to help. Having an abundance of likes will help them get funding. I don’t know all of their expenses, but I know one of them is to monthly conference calls that train people on how to lobby their politicians and write letters to the editor. Sending them a donation, even a tiny one, can help because they gain credibility when they can say they are financially supported by a large number of people. If your are in the United States, you might want to check out their American Citizen’s Climate Lobby.
I work my way through my new emails. There’s a notice about the municipal budget consultation period coming to an end soon, and about some features of the budget. There will be some money towards good things like the municipal compost program being extended to schools and money going towards storm water management, but there’s not enough money towards the homeless shelters and probably not nearly enough money towards preventing people from needing homeless shelters. I don’t know enough about the budget to know what areas could be trimmed and I feel frustrated with my own lack of knowledge.
At the same time I don’t think it should be a question of putting money towards homelessness prevention only if people can come up with answers to where the money should come from. It isn’t a luxury item. Canadians have already made that decision that we will help care for the poor. We provide social assistance and we provide medical care. Now we need to do it properly. We need to give enough for people to actually live on. The province is downloading responsibilities to the municipalities. The municipalities need to fight back against that (because they are the level of government with the least ability to increase taxes) but they also need to carry out the responsibility properly while they do have it. And if anyone asks “what is in it for me?” we need to speak out clearly saying that decreased inequality means lower healthcare costs and less money spent dealing with crime and prisons. It means better security for all of us, because none of us are immune from slipping into poverty ourselves. Moreover, caring for the vulnerable is a powerful statement about what what we believe it is to be human. To say every person deserves to live with dignity, and I am going to do what I can to help them, is to affirm one’s own dignity. To dismiss others need for dignity is to degrade oneself.
So what can I do with a two year old asleep in my arms? How can I make a change in the world? I can write letters. I can write letters to politicians. They need reminders about what issues people are watching. I can work on the webpage for my local anti-poverty group, organizing the information to go on it. I can donate (even small amounts) to organizations that I know are making a difference. I can read more so that I know where money in the municipal budget is going. I could contact some of my local activist friends and invite them to some social activity, because I know that burn-out is a problem and we need to establish good connections to help us through things. I can remember that the work I do educating my children is important too both for their sake and for those they will eventually go on to help.
But right now I can go and make lunch and feed three hungry children.