Let's get the 411 out of the way. Press HERE, Great Americans to get information, driving directions and more – as if you didn't already know them – to prep for my favorite civic activism event ever, the 30th annual Great American Write-In, sponsored by Women For: Orange County. You'll want to share the info and invite friends because, of course, the Times and Register won't mention it as they might, should, toward promoting political engagement and civic literacy, unlike this magazine you are reading online, which profiled the long-time OC feminist outfit last year. This despite or perhaps because of the truly dangerous idea it represents as manifest in the powerful image at right, of an older woman holding a pen, mightier than the sword, they say, in the wonderfully authentic and vivid and scary act of hand writing a letter to an elected official. It's a modest if impressive bit of what remains of both participation and resistance in an often otherwise virtual and therefore mostly meaningless "like"-along or online petition or Facebook un-world
You've read me on and on about this event, in various venues, from this blog to mainstream newspapers and political websites. And if you are a friend of mine, had to put up with my near-impossible delight at the write-in, whose only disappointment is that it isn't ever darn weekend, and not just in Orange County, of all places. To review, here's how it works. The committed activists of Women For, which also holds year-round forums and speakers, secures the hall, invites representatives from nearly seventy excellent left-liberal organizations, conservationist, women's rights, human rights, good government, and so on. They open the place at 9 (next Saturday, folks, March 7) for coffee and juice and bagels. Inside the Delhi Community Center (just off the 55) those reps will be set up behind individual tables, with literature, sample letters, buttons and bumper stickers, just armed for activist bear and wanting you to please take their materials and learn about their issue. Planned
Parenthood, the ACLU, California Clean Money Campaign, Food & Water Watch, Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace, UCI's new Community and Labor Project, Council on American-Islamic Relations, the League of Women Voters, the OC Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, OC Peace Coalition, Greens, Democrats, United Nations Association, you get the idea.
Then you sit down with a bunch of other terrific, engaged, smart letter-writing Orange County people and, yes, right there on the spot, write a short letter to the targeted member of
Congress, state legislature, school board, mayor, Supervisor, whomever, about whatever the current issue or problem or campaign is. You might chat in between with one of the other high-quality individuals who finds this the absolutely best way to spend a Saturday morning in America. (I'll be there, 'natch!) After a few hours of this, the letters start to stack up and and before you know it the volunteers of Women For are loading them into big boxes, to be stamped and posted on Monday morning. WF pays for the postage, though they sure don't mind if you want to make a donation or, even better, become a member and attend their singular and extremely special Annual Suffrage Luncheon in August, which raises some bucks and honors a woman and occasional dude who's done the right thing by way of some excellent citizen-activism.
You don't have to endorse or agree with everybody there. With so many to choose from, no doubt it'll be easier to find solidarity and affinity with a lot more organizations you dig than one or two which don't float your boat. Here's Women For's excellent mission statement:
Advancing human & civil rights. Promoting peace & justice. Improving public education. Securing health care for all. Protecting the environment.
I dig this caveat: No participating organization may be anti-choice, racist or sexist.
Which is why I am in love with the women (and men) of Women For: Orange County and so look forward to this annual wing-ding for democratic participation.
Women For: Orange County presents The 30th Annual Great American Write-In,
Saturday, March 7, free and wide-open to the public, 9 am – 1:30 pm at the Delhi Community Center, Santa Ana, CA. 505 E. Central Avenue, Santa Ana 92707.
Andrew Tonkovich edits the West Coast literary journal Santa Monica Review and returns in spring 2015 to hosting the weekly books show Bibliocracy Radio on KPFK 90.7 FM in Southern California.