Heike Peckruhn, Daemen College
I find the following resources useful to identify concrete political and social ways of engaging for social change.
Written by congressional staffers, “Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda” analyses the strategies of the Tea Party and the lessons to be learned for grassroots organizing (while noting important differences of political objectives). For action items, short-term and long-term, on how to hold members of Congress accountable and move them into desired action, this guide is a great resource. The website itself now offers more than just the actual guide (in English and Spanish), it offers a way to connect with local groups to tap into existing work done, or register a new group in an area, as well as a calendar for action items/events (national, regional, and local).
Another specific and action oriented general publication is “26 Ways to Be in the Struggle Beyond the Streets” (download possible after signing up for a free account with the website). Connected to the Black Lives Matter movement, it takes an intersectional framework when articulating strategies for resistance. I find it useful particularly because it counters an ableist (physical, mental, and emotional) image of activism, and lists various ways of being engaged in social justice efforts.
Both of these resources are already written from a certain political stance. The first may explicitly name resisting “the Trump agenda,” though it is broader than that in terms of joining a progressive political movement. The second one takes an intersectional, progressive stance for granted as well.
Depending on student demographics or course objectives, these may or may not be useful resources. I have used the “Action Continuum” in civic engagement courses towards the end of the semester – after learning about terms like privilege, justice, fairness, oppression, etc. When discussing “how to get involved” (no matter what the social or political stance of the student might be), the first image that most often comes to students’ minds when discussing advocacy or engaging in solidarity with someone else’s struggle is “protesting.” The Action Continuum casts many positions as “actions.” I have found it useful in the classroom since it casts silence or being a bystander as an action itself on a spectrum and posits us all already as actors in various situations of oppression-resistance, in different capacities and different positions. It demystifies political and social engagement while encouraging students to look for and identify the many groups and communities that are already engaging in social change work. I have also found that it lowers the perceived risk or energy needed when seeking social change.
Heike Peckruhn completed her doctorate at Iliff School of Theology with her dissertation, Sense-Making Bodies: Feminist Materiality and Phenomenology in Constructive Body Theologies. She describes herself as shaped by anabaptist theology and postcolonial theory. How we make meaning in embodied ways and how we engage in communal action towards increased social justice are at the heart of her research.