Diana Nelson Jones' Walkabout: Fear of Trump prompts surge in donations to advocacy groups
January 16, 2017 12:01 AM
Courtesy of 100 Days of US
In a still image taken from a video, Jody Guy and Ben Fiorillo fundraise for the "Portrait Project: Faces from Within" to advocate for proper healthcare for the incarcerated.
By Diana Nelson Jones / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
In the days after the presidential election, millions reacted by contributing to organizations that advocate for women, immigrants, the environment, the arts, the disabled and other causes that they felt a Donald Trump presidency might threaten.
The local Sprout Fund’s “100 Days of US” is an incentive for local people to launch the change they seek in the first 100 days of the new administration. Sprout has committed $100,000 to support local projects that help people “demonstrate the values and vision of America,” as stated in its request for ideas.
More than 150 applicants met the Jan. 9 deadline. Sprout is asking the public to help it choose the winners by Thursday. All the proposals are presented at 100daysof.us. About 20 projects will be funded.
“We will be accepting votes until noon” Thursday, said Ryan Coon, Sprout program officer. A committee will consider the votes to make its decision by Friday.
“We asked applicants to identify with key issues” — the environment, education, women, veterans, non-violence, immigrants, refugees and criminal justice, to name a few, he said.
Each project description includes a video and text. Among the ideas are calls for dialogues among people who disagree, breaking down barriers and borders with poetry and cooking, mentoring, turning a blighted lot into a neighborhood celebration site, promoting civics education through independent publishing, turning pocket lots in Downtown into homeless housing, involving youth in soil sampling for lead and promoting environmental education.
One idea would get adults to consider playing again — not competitively but the way kids play. “Play Training” would bring groups together in a safe space to relearn and re-explore the demands that play makes on imagination, collaboration, accepting the roles of other people and on learning physical communication skills.
Another idea would bring immigrant oral history to the city steps for performances by “The Steppin’ Stanzas.”
“100 Days of US” would be a laudable engagement anytime, but it is a rallying cry of sorts just in case the next administration is as callous and contemptuous as the president-elect sounded in his campaign.
As far as I remember, he didn’t demean or threaten prison inmates, but they are already demeaned and threatened. They are also vulnerable because their health care inside is spotty depending on the facility; on the outside, coverage that would have been extended under the Affordable Care Act is likely in jeopardy now.
“The Portrait Project” would raise awareness of the needs of inmate health care and health care coverage upon release. An incarcerated artist at SCI Fayette is drawing portraits and collecting inmate stories so that journals can be bound for sale. Proceeds would go into a health care fund.
It’s hard for many people to be sympathetic to inmates. Some are vile miscreants and psychopaths. But the majority made stupid mistakes as youth — maybe just one — or had limited opportunities to exercise options, or lack of consistent guidance. Some people are foul balls in the line drive of life. But they still should be treated with care if they become ill.
Being humane is a leading value among the standards America should expect of itself, and it is encouraging that people are piling up support for causes that support our people and our earth, including more than $7 million to the American Civil Liberties Union within five days after the election.
The Sierra Club, the Anti-Defamation League, the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, National Immigration Law Center and International Refugee Assistance Project all saw jumps in memberships and donations after Nov. 8.
But do not believe it is solely a liberal outpouring. Many people I know are among tons of conservatives who contributed to advocacy groups for the environment, the disabled and other greater-good causes that they fear for in the months and years ahead.
It is arrogant to exclude conservatives from the camp that expects clean air and water, fair and equal justice, the right to be free of official harassment, the right to criticize government and to pursue happiness. These are common sense causes. Who in his left, or right, mind wouldn’t expect these standards to be self-evident?
Diana Nelson Jones: email@example.com or 412-263-1626.
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