Friday, November 11, 2016

America voted. Now what?

Eight years ago this month, I took a nap late in the evening and then awoke again in the wee hours, packed up some bottles of champagne and walked through Istanbul's for-once quiet streets to a fellow expat's house. There a group of Americans and their friends held a vigil through the night, drinking, eating, and goofing around, but mostly glued to the TV and our laptop screens as we watched the election results roll in back home. We got to pop those champagne corks around sunrise, which seemed utterly fitting, and as I made my sleepy but thrilled way back home, it felt like the world outside shone just a bit brighter.

There was a little déjà vu, if a lot more anxiety, Tuesday evening in heading out around midnight, already sleepy but determined to watch this year's returns until the bitter end. And bitter it was. There's already so much armchair analysis and so many emotional outpourings online, I don't really feel like opining further here. But if you, like me, believe in progressive ideals and are concerned about the effect the U.S. presidential election might have in terms of racial/gender/LGBTQ equality, the environment, human rights, global peace, and much more, you might, like me, need a little shot in the arm and some ideas about what to do next.

So I'm starting (and will keep updating) a list here of other people's writing that I feel provides one or both of these things; if you have more suggestions, send 'em my way. (Admittedly, this is an American-centric list, and post, but many of the issues we face are global ones, and I'd love it if this inspires anyone to take like-minded action in their own countries.)

Get fired up:
  • Inspiring Down-Ballot Wins That Defy Racism, Sexism -- Short profiles of the nine women of color elected to the U.S. House and Senate this week, including my new California senator, Kamala Harris. (Another article has more on female firsts in this election, including the first Somali-American woman to be elected to public office in the United States.)

  • Don't Mourn, Fight Like Hell -- "Trump appealed to America's worst impulses. Now it's on the rest of us to show, to prove, that this is not all that America is. This is a time when we're called on to do things we may not have done before. To face down bigotry and hate, and to reach beyond our Facebook feeds in trying to do so."

  • Here's what progressives need to do to stop Trump’s insane agenda -- "We need to take back Congress in 2018 like our lives depended on it because they do."

  • Forget Canada. Stay and Fight for American Democracy -- "Fighting for democracy is part of America's heritage, from abolitionists to suffragettes to the progressive reformers. Maybe you thought that fight was confined to history. It will go on."

  • Autocracy: Rules for Survival -- "Believe the autocrat. Do not be taken in by small signs of normality. Institutions will not save you. Be outraged. Don’t make compromises. Remember the future."

  • The Morning After -- "Let’s get off the floor and get busy." The brilliant Samantha Bee's call to action. Need further convincing that the 2018 midterm election can matter? Watch her trenchant piece from earlier in this campaign season about the 2010 midterm -- you know, the one that only 40.9% of eligible voters bothered to cast a ballot in -- and then read about some of the voter-suppression laws enacted by people that apathy allowed to sweep into office.

  • We Have To Create A Culture That Won't Vote For Trump -- "We’re going to need every single one of you. Because what we need to do is hard. Very hard. We have to create a culture that won’t vote for Trump, that won’t vote for anyone like Trump ever again. And in order to do that we have to shift our focus from our politicians, our electoral college, our TV pundits—and we have to start focusing on our communities. Because Trump did not elect himself."

  • Citizens, United -- "Despair is a counterproductive response. So is denial — an easy temptation in the wake of the inevitable postelection pleasantries and displays of respect needed to maintain the peaceful transfer of power. The proper response is steely resolve to wage the fight of our lives."

  • Trump changed everything. Now everything counts -- "With due respect for the colored ribbons we’ve worn for various solidarities, our next step is to wear something on our sleeve that takes actual courage: our hearts... There’s safety in numbers, but only if we count ourselves out loud."

Get active:

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Running so kids can be kids -- not farmworkers

Runners are often advised to rekindle their love for their sport in tough or unmotivating times by remembering the joy and freedom they felt running as a child. But not all children have the freedom to run and play. In Turkey, at least 1 million young people under the age of 18, including both Turkish children and Syrian and other refugee children, are spending their childhoods working — at least 400,000 of them in grueling seasonal migrant agricultural labor — instead of learning and playing.

Helping some of these children get back to school is the reason why I’m running the 15k race in the Istanbul Marathon on 13 November for Hayata Destek, a Turkish NGO that provides social support to vulnerable communities, and its "This Work is Not Child's Play!" campaign.

For each 250 TL I raise (that’s just $80, €72, or £65), Hayata Destek will be able to provide one migrant farmworker child with school supplies, educational materials, and the hygiene items they need in their tent home.
Jennifer Hattam's campaign page
I know there are many, many organizations and causes in need of funding right now. I've chosen this one not only because of the good work they do, but also to help support Turkish civil society, which is both increasingly embattled and woefully underfunded. The group through which I'm carrying out my funding drive, Adım Adım, has done amazing work over the past eight years promoting two things that were once very foreign in Turkey: running and individual charitable giving. I trust their vetting of the organizations they choose to partner with; the founders have even started a new project, Açık Açık ("Openly") to promote transparency among Turkish charities.

Unfortunately, the Adım Adım donation pages are only in Turkish, so if you need a little help navigating them, here's a quick translation:

"We're running so children working in seasonal
agriculture can be children,
because this work is not child's play"
At the top of my campaign page, you'll see my information, including the campaign I've chosen to support and how I'm doing at meeting my goal. Scroll down below the "Neden Koşuyorum" (Why I'm Running) section and underneath "Kampanyamı Destekle" (Support My Campaign"), click on the orange button labeled "Online Bağış Yap" (Make An Online Donation).

From there, type in the amount you want to donate ("Bağış Miktarı") *in Turkish Lira* ( is a good currency converter); your credit card number ("Kredi Kartı Numarası"), expiration date (“Ay” is month, “Yıl” is year), and card security code ("CVV"); your name (“Adın Soyadın”); and your email address (“E-Posta Adresin”). Then click on the red button marked “Bağışla” to make your donation! 100% of all funds raised go to my selected charity, Hayata Destek.

If you have a Turkish bank account and want to donate via electronic funds transfer, click on “Havale/EFT yapmak istiyorum” to see the recipient bank name (Finansbank / İstanbul Maçka Şubesi), account name (Hayata Destek Derneği / STL), and IBAN numbers for Turkish Lira, US Dollar, and Euro donations. Don’t forget to write the code “CC10138” in the explanation section ("açıklama") so that the donation gets registered to my campaign.

If you have any questions or difficulties making a donation, please PM me. If you have trouble donating from abroad, I'd be happy to accept donations to my personal PayPal account and then send them through to Hayata Destek myself.

Please help me meet my fundraising goal of 3000 TL ($961 / €865 / £779), which will support 12 children in going back to school. All it takes to meet that goal is for 40 of you to donate 75 TL ($24 / 22 Euro / 19 GBP) each! Thank you for your support!

UPDATE: Thanks to the generosity of my supporters, I concluded my campaign with a total of 6,454 Turkish Lira ($1,833 US) — more than twice my original fundraising goal! These donations will provide more than 25 migrant farmworker children with school supplies, educational materials, and the hygiene items they need in their tent homes. Overall, 324 children will be assisted by Hayata Destek's fundraising campaign. Read more in my thank-you letter to my fundraising supporters.