From Art in Action to heARTful Action


These are difficult days in my little city. Since the presidential election, LGBT friends have been harassed and threatened. One was nearly run off the road as she jogged near her home. Adults and children alike have been bullied for the color of their skin or their family’s country of origin. University police have harassed and bullied students. Anti-semitic graffiti has been painted around town.

Things are not good and they don’t look like they are turning around any time soon.

In light of this disturbing shift, I will also be shifting my energies. On Tuesdays, I have been writing Art in Action posts which offered practical, tangible ways of implementing our focus of the week. Starting today, Tuesdays will be for a piece called heARTful Action.

heARTful is my made-up word meaning, awareness from and leading with the heart. With this wave of hate and bigotry, I will focus on how to stand up for the most vulnerable in my community and help as best I can to create a culture of inclusion and kindness.

I have no idea how to do this.

As the political, cultural, and social smoke clears, I will endeavor to learn what is needed most and how I can help in my area. In heARTful Action posts, I will share what I am learning and offer practical, tangible ways that you can do your own heARTful action.

For folks in the Charlottesville area, there will be events and experiences in which you can participate. For people living elsewhere, you can use what I’m learning here and apply it in your community.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.® Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead

For today, two places to start:

~ Choose Something that Matters
Look at the current landscape in your community and think about what really matters to you. For me, it is helping vulnerable people and supporting the environment. What matters to you on a deep level? By following our highest values positive change can happen.

~ Listen and learn.
I don’t know a blessed thing about social activism. And I’m ready to listen to people who do and learn. I’m ready to listen to the people who need help and learn. I’m ready to gather people who care about the things I do and listen and learn. I’m also open to resources like this and this
(If you have resources about starting social action or helping those whose rights are in jeapordy, please put them in the comments below.)

BONUS: Some thoughts on symbolic gestures
Some of the things we can do are more symbolic than practical or direct. Does a symbolic gesture mean nothing? Take for example, the “safety pin movement”: wearing a safety pin to identify yourself as an ally, a “safe” person to anyone who is afraid in the current environment. There are differing opinions about this: some for and some against. Here’s my take on it. I think public and symbolic displays of support are important. Demonstrations, signs and symbols don’t directly create change but they set up a culture and community of support. AND symbolic acts can’t be the ONLY thing we do, but they can be ONE thing we do to say that this situation is not okay with us. So I say, wear a safety pin (and as the second writer suggests, a Black Lives Matter necklace, too) but ALSO take direct action. More on that soon, love warriors!

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