Things are going to be a little different for this one. I fell off the listening wagon at the end of June because I came down with COVID and it hit me pretty hard. It was my first time having it, but luckily I'm on my feet again- and we're chugging along.
I was sleeping in a hotel room when the news broke that the US Supreme Court actually turned over Roe v Wade. While this was somewhat expected with the current climate, it still rattled me. Generally, a lot has been rattling me. The blatant white supremacy, the increasing anti-LGBTQ+ language, and the general vitriol everywhere. I do what I can, highlighting podcasts and being active on social media- but that's not really going to change minds. Not from me.
I've never been sure what I can do to feel like I'm helping. I lived most of my life in New York State and New Jersey, and I can barely afford to donate anything to any sort of fund, protest marches are not where I belong. I've felt like I've been spinning - what can I do to help?
Then I noticed a pattern emerging in conversation. There is a certain degree of apathy when it comes to voting. We all know this. However, I see the most apathy being around local government. We care a lot about our president, but why don't we care who our state legislatures are?
I couldn't tell you who runs any of the towns I've lived in, who represents me in any state other than maybe my senator. I don't always realize who my congressperson is. These are problems a quick internet search can fix, but then how do I work from there?
Luckily there's a website called LegiScan where we can start keeping track of bills like NJ S589 or the "Fairness in Women's Sport Act" which is another bill trudging its way through our legislatures that would prevent children from participating in sports based on their gender assigned at birth. Using LegiScan you can track the bill to see where it goes.
But Keelin, you're a podcast review blog, what about podcasts? I'm getting there.
I've found that a lot of podcasts might be out of reach for people. If you're not already interested in politics, a podcast on congress might be too much. What's not too much, might be one a little more local. I'll use my Western New York life as an example. I won't find podcasts about news happening in my hometown - it's too small- but what's a step bigger. Buffalo as a whole, but also there's a lot of "716" pride. I found a podcast called 716 Together which is a great start for people in the area to be connected with issues in the community.
But podcasts on "how to make a difference". A step by step process? It's daunting to find and evaluate them for people like me. But they are out there.
One I really want to highlight is Future Hindsight and their episode "End Gerrymandering with Ballot Intiatives: Katie Fahey". This is a phenomenal episode that goes through how Katie Fahey lead a grassroots ballot initiative in Michigan to form an independent redistricting committee to combat gerrymandering. A ballot initiative is when registered voters can write a law or a state constitutional amendment, and have it voted on directly. Read more about it from Ballotpedia here. Is it particularly easy? Not as an individual. As a community? It can be surprisingly easy to push forward.
Future Hindsight has other episodes that are well worth the listen. They tend to be around thirty minutes and are very easy to listen to. I'm also dabbling in the podcast Gov Love which interviews local government officials from around the country. It's a little longer, about forty-five minutes or more, and probably for the person who might already be active, or who is considering a career in local government, but hey. It's all a start.
So hey. Here are some starts on how to get informed, and from there we can all work on getting involved. This will be a process for me, especially because I'm not ingrained in the community I live in because I didn't grow up here. However, we can all start. Do a quick search or two once or twice a week, and start staying informed on a local level.
What I Reviewed in June:
An Episode Highlight: Something I'm working on doing is highlighting episodes here and there. Sometimes there's just a really great one- and this one is no exception to that. The Bleeders is a niche podcast for those interested in writing and publishing, but this episode with Chloe Caldwell was interesting to listen to.
Thanks for reading everyone, and please stay involved, stay informed, and please wear a mask. Getting sick sucks.