by Jonathan Krall, writing on behalf of the Grassroots Alexandria Steering Committee
If not for the pandemic, right about now we’d be hosting a holiday gathering at my house to celebrate both the season and the anniversary of our first meeting, on December 19, 2016.
Our mission in 2016 was both to respond to specific issues, such as the Women’s March and high-profile white nationalism in Alexandria, and to promote personal engagement in democracy and personal skill-building.
I am happy to see that, four years later, we are continuing this work.
It is the nature of activism to wax and wane. Major “people power” events, such as the protests of this summer, are difficult to sustain. Indeed, any decent activism handbook will explain that the power to force political leaders to act boldly (instead of timidly) for the common good is temporary. A coalition is assembled, outreach campaigns are launched to reach political leaders and the public, and coalition-building and outreach activities build up until political leaders act. Later, a renewed coalition will come together to launch the next campaign.
While coalition power is temporary, personal activity is not. In a free country, there is no requirement that we engage in politics. However, we see what happens when most people vote only in major elections; it isn’t good. In this time of change, we see the influence of city hall and Richmond over our quality of life and that of our neighbors. Elections have consequences; especially state and local elections.
It is the mission of Grassroots Alexandria to teach effective political engagement. We focus on local politics because that is where we can most readily have an effect and can see the results of our work.
Individuals may come and go, work harder or take a break. We all need to take time for self care. Because we work together and learn together, however, no one should fail to act because they do not know how to act.
We hope that, as we work together, we are sharing that knowledge. If not, you are invited to speak up, volunteer, and help us do better.
Best Wishes for 2021.