A Simple Checklist Inspires a New Kind of Activism

Activists chant and display signs at at a protest prior to World AIDS Day on November 29, 2017, in New York City. (Photo: Working Families Party)Activists chant and display signs at at a protest prior to World AIDS Day on November 29, 2017, in New York City. (Photo: Working Families Party)

 

What do a podcaster from Portland, an actor on the CBS drama Criminal Minds and a retired lawyer in central Iowa have in common?

They’ve all become activists of sorts in the last year, staking out a corner of their otherwise busy lives to regularly make calls, write letters and perform a range of other actions in support of democracy and equality.

What’s driving them is a simple weekly checklist compiled by another newbie activist: Salem, Oregon, writer Jen Hofmann.

Hofmann started Americans of Conscience Action Checklist a year ago as a resource for friends struggling to make sense of the wave of post-election petitions on social media. In those days of outrage and confusion — between near-daily rallies and protests — her checklist became a menu of actions for people seeking to push back against divisive rhetoric and extremism flooding the country.

Hofmann spends 20 to 30 hours a week creating the list on a volunteer basis and over time has hit on a winning formula of well-researched, hype-free, values-based suggestions, along with a recommended reading list and a blend of positive news.

“Jen’s checklist came along at a time when people were trying to figure out how best to respond,” says Asha Dornfest, the Portland podcaster and author who uses it as a key resource for a women’s activism Facebook group she runs. “She offered concrete action steps to take and she did it in a way that was so human … and so welcoming to a wide swath of people.”

A year in, as the resistance landscape continues to shift — with new projects joining the movement as others lose steam and fall off — Hofmann’s project continues to carve out an important niche.

Posted each Sunday, it prioritizes the important over the urgent, and under-the-radar but critical issues over what’s grabbing the big headlines. Key issues range from healthcare…

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