Social Justice

Donate To California Wildfire Victims, Demand Justice For Jacob Blake, & More Actions To Take Now

How to put your energy towards making change this week.

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Even if you follow the news as much as your mental health can handle, it can be hard to know what issues to focus on. A quick tour of causes you can support this week can help you cut through the noise and make the change you want to see.

Showing up for the issues and people you care about can take a lot of different forms. With the 2020 election coming up, you might want to make your next Zoom icebreaker about creating a game plan for voting on time. You may also consider donating to help victims of the California wildfires, or volunteering for Bookshare to increase access to books. If you want to take some quick actions on your phone, you can email your senators to fund the USPS, or sign a petition for #JusticeForJacobBlake. Below, you can find a petition to sign, an email to write, a conversation to have, and places to donate or volunteer if you want to make a difference.

You can't do something about everything — but if you feel like you're spiraling at the state of the world, you might feel better if you do one thing about something. Here are five actions you can take this week to support five important causes.


Make A Voting Game Plan With Your Housemates

Since pandemic time is basically an illusion, the Nov. 3, 2020 election feels like it's both a couple months away and tomorrow afternoon — so, make a plan to vote as soon as possible. Like, today.

First things first: remind your roommates, your mom, and all your pals to make sure they're registered to vote if they're eligible. Don't rely on the fact that you voted in the primaries: it only takes a few moments to check, and checking is a lot better than finding out too late that something was wrong with your registration.

If you know that getting to a polling place won't be your best option because of COVID, you can opt to receive your ballot by mail in many states. Yes, there's a lot going on with USPS right now (see below), but the good news is that you don't always have to mail your ballot back — it's worth finding out ahead of time if and where you can deposit your vote into a ballot drop box come Election Day. Sometimes, the location is your local polling place, but sometimes it's not, so make sure to collect the right info. In many states, you can also vote early, which will let you avoid long lines at the polls come Nov. 3.

Make a point to check in with your family, housemates, and friends on their voting game plans so that no one forgets or is misinformed in the swirl of quaran-time. Get the latest on how to vote during COVID in your state here.


Donate To Help California Wildfire Victims

Wildfires are ripping through Northern California, affecting an area the size of Rhode Island, per NPR. Over 500 homes and buildings have been destroyed, and at least five people have died, Reuters reports, while thousands of others evacuate. Climate change has made these extreme weather phenomena nearly annual events, and because of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, wildfire recovery will likely look very different during the 2020 fire season. You can help California wildfire victims by donating to the American Red Cross, or GoFundMe's California Wildfire Relief Fund, which "will issue grants to individuals, organizations, and communities that have either been impacted themselves or are dedicated to helping those affected by the California wildfires."


Sign This Petition For #JusticeForJacobBlake

On Aug. 23, a Black man named Jacob Blake was shot seven times by Kenosha, Wisconsin, police officers, while Blake was trying to break up a fight, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. As of the morning of Aug. 24, the officers involved in the shooting were on administrative leave, per the Wisconsin Department of Justice. A video of the shooting quickly went viral, leading social media users to call for justice for Jacob Blake.

"While we do not have all of the details yet, what we know for certain is that he is not the first Black man or person to have been shot or injured or mercilessly killed at the hands of individuals in law enforcement in our state or our country," said Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers in a statement.

As the situation develops, it's important to stay informed. If you're itching to make your views heard, you can sign a petition addressed to Gov. Evers, asking for the officers who shot Blake to be charged.


Email Your Senators To Save The USPS

After the installation of Louis DeJoy as postmaster general, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has been losing resources it needs to efficiently deliver medications that people need to survive, ship books and letters to families, and pay its own workers appropriate overtime, in the name of budget cuts. Naturally, this is more than a little worrisome in the middle of an election-year pandemic where people will overwhelmingly want to exercise their right to vote by mail. Though DeJoy said he would halt some cost-cutting measures and pledged to make mail-in voting the agency's top priority, House members convened an emergency session over the weekend to pass a bill to protect the USPS' funding. What's next? You can email your senators to support this bill and other measures to safeguard mail service.


Volunteer From Home For Bookshare

If you've got a scanner, a love of proofreading, or both, you can help make books available in accessible formats for people with dyslexia, visual impairments, or other barriers to reading. Bookshare converts books into audio with highlighted text to follow along with large font, braille, and other formats. The platform is free for students, which is going to be especially important in such an uncertain back-to-school environment. To get involved, you can volunteer your services to scan books into the system, or to proofread files that have already been scanned.

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