Friends,

This week, we have five action items for you,  We hope you do as many as you can! And encourage your friends to take the solidarity pledge as well – all are welcome to sign!

  • 1) Engage with family and friends
  • 2) Support humanitarian efforts in Syria and Iraq
  • 3) Flip a Virginia state House seat blue
  • 4) Fight budget cuts that harm Cambridge students
  • 5) Sign up for Mass Power Forward’s Lobby Day

Please also answer this one-question survey so we can better understand what’s working, what needs work, and what our priorities should be. Please take 30 seconds right now to help us be more effective. Thank you!

We’re also looking for people to help us run the Solidarity Pledge! The work is very granular, and even 1-2 hours a week of help would be very welcome. We’re particularly looking for people with good writing/editing skills, webmasters, or news junkies. Contact us at solidaritymit@mit.edu if you’d like to help! Non-MIT people welcome too!

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1) Engage with family and friends

With holiday season, many of us will be meeting relatives and friends we don’t see often. It’s an important opportunity to engage with those whose views differ from ours on key issues, and to get those already sympathetic to be more politically active and engaged.

For family/friends with divergent political views:

  • The goal is to understand each other, not to prove yourself right. People generally have good intentions, so it’s important to listen and not antagonize. Even if a particular family member will never agree with your political views, they may be able to understand why you feel the way you do.

  • Try to frame arguments in terms of what matters to the other person. A 2015 Stanford study of liberals and conservatives and found that reframing issues in terms of the other person’s morals increased the persuasiveness of the arguments.

  • If someone makes a claim you disagree with, (gently) ask why. Do they have evidence? What makes them believe the claim? This is not about being smarter or better informed, it’s about understanding where their ideas come from.

  • Find evidence for your claims. Start with the SURJ winter holiday guide and try to think of responses to specific statements, such as “I’m not a racist for supporting Trump.” You can also text SOS to 82623 get key talking points if you’re stuck!

For family/friends with sympathetic political views:

  • Share your concerns about recent developments in the Trump administration. Emphasize the magnitude of the challenge and the need for all of us to take action.

  • Encourage them to get involved in local organizing efforts. Some starting points might include wall of us, weekly resistance, tell all your friends, and togetherlist, a comprehensive database of advocacy groups to support.

  • Where possible, ask family members to donate to some of the organizations listed below in lieu of holiday gifts. Consider making donations in their names, as well.

  • Ask them to join you in the solidarity pledge! All are welcome, and people outside of MIT can sign the pledge as well.

2) Support humanitarian efforts in Syria and Iraq

Civilians in Aleppo and Mosul desperately require humanitarian aid. Since the ceasefire on December 15 after four years of brutal war and atrocities in Aleppo, tens of thousands of civilians are being evacuated to the rebel-held city of Idlib, which has inadequate resources and may be unsafe. In Mosul, Iraq, one million people are trapped in the battle to recapture the city from ISIS. Civilian casualties are so high that doctors are struggling to meet the demand. More than 90,000 civilians have been displaced from their homes. You can help provide emergency aid and resettle refugees by donating to any of the organizations below:

Organizations in Iraq: (for more details, article here)

Organizations in Syria:

3) Flip a Virginia state House seat blue

There will be a special election held in Virginia on 1/10/17 for a Republican-held seat in the state House that just became vacant. Democrat candidate Cheryl Turpin is a progressive who teaches environmental science to high schoolers in Virginia Beach. Help flip Virginia Beach blue- donate here, and volunteer to phone bank here or here. While you’re at it – sign up for Flippable, whose mission is to turn America blue by building a movement to flip seats – first in state legislatures, and then in the House and Senate by closing the information gap, identifying critical races, and organizing to successfully turn states “blue.”

4) Fight budget cuts that harm Cambridge students

On Dec. 6, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker cut a $110,000 grant given to Food For Free’s Cambridge Weekend Backpack food program (which sends meals home on Fridays to Cambridge Public School students whose primary source of nutrition is the school cafeteria). The eliminated grant represents 80% of the program’s food budget and 69% of the program’s total budget which provides meals to 485 Cambridge students. They are now desperately in need of donations: the organization spent $35,000 on meals this past month, and the state is now refusing to reimburse them. (See news articles here). Call Charlie Baker’s office and ask him why he thinks kids in Cambridge don’t deserve weekend meals.

Governor Charlie Baker
Boston office phone:  617-725-4005
Springfield office phone: 413-784-1200

“Hi, my name is _____ and (if applicable) I am a constituent who lives in _____, Massachusetts. I’m calling to ask Governor Baker why he cut funding for Food For Free’s Cambridge Weekend Backpack program. This program’s effect on Massachusetts’ budget is negligible, but its impact on students’ lives is enormous. It has provided food to hundreds of students that may now go without. Studies have shown that hungry students can’t focus or do well in school. Massachusetts has always been a strong supporter of education, and it shouldn’t undermine children’s ability to learn just to save a such a small amount. Please tell Governor Baker that he should reconsider the need for these cuts because Cambridge kids are important to me. Thank you.”

5) Sign up for Mass Power Forward’s Lobby Day

It’s clear from Trump transition team statements and memos that federal action will likely be more of a hindrance than a help in the fight against climate change over the next four years. Climate leadership in the U.S. will therefore have to come from the bottom up – from local institutions, cities, and states. Mass Power Forward is a broad coalition of social justice groups, faith groups, and energy and environmental advocates from across Massachusetts, working to pressure Massachusetts legislators to step up our transition away from fossil fuels. On Wednesday, January 25, Mass Power Forward will host a statewide lobby day (RSVP here), where MA residents will meet with their state representatives and senators to push for at least 50% clean power by 2040, expanded investments in community and low-income solar, and stronger action to stop municipal gas leaks. While it’s over a month away, it’s important to RSVP now so there’s time to arrange your meeting with your state rep or senator.

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That’s all for this week. Thank you for standing up for progress with us! And don’t forget to share your commitment and actions with friends, both online and in person!

If you have questions or suggestions, or would like to get more involved, contact us at solidaritymit@mit.edu. We especially welcome suggestions for potential action items!

Until next week,

Solidarity MIT

tinyurl.com/solidaritypledge

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