Democracy (and a Poem)

January 1st, 2024 — 11:09am

I had planned to write my January Women’s Circle Writing Group newsletter about welcoming this new year in with renewed belief in ourselves, and other uplifting thoughts, but my heart is tugging me in a different direction.

This is going to be a pivotal year. We have a presidential election in November that will decide whether our country will remain a democracy or slides into a dictatorship. The leading Republican candidate tried to overturn the 2020 election, and now casually flings words like “vermin” around to his followers. If it sounds familiar it is. This is the language of fascism and it’s terrifying. We must not look away.

We, the people, are stronger together, and the time to express that power is now. No one person can do it alone, but together we can take action to protect our democracy, for ourselves, our children, and future generations. 

Vote. And if you are able, help register other people to vote — especially young people and people in swing states. As Third Act co-founder and my friend Bill McKibben tells us, the best thing an individual can do to address attacks on democracy, and the climate crisis, is to stop acting like an individual. We are more powerful when we act collectively. 

Thankfully we have pro-democracy organizations in the world doing vital work, as well as smart journalists and writers chronicling what is happening in our country, how to interpret it all, and what actions to take. Just a few of these organizations and journalists are linked to below. There are more. No act is too small. Do what you can. The time is now.

Finally, this newsletter closes with a poem by the wonderful Bay Area poet Danusha Lameris, who writes about how we are all in this human soup together, and small kindnesses matter.




New round of Women’s Writing Circles begins January 10th! One spot left in each class. (Hoping to add a third class in the near future!)

Eight week series. Zoom Classes begin January 10, 5:30 pm PT to 7:00 pm PT In Person Berkeley Classes begin January 12, 10 AM to Noon. Cost: $360 per series. No one turned away for lack of funds. If you are experiencing financial challenges, please reach out.


Pro-Democracy Organizations

Third Act

“Experienced Americans” are the fastest-growing part of the population: 10,000 people a day pass the 60-year mark. That means that there’s no way to make the changes that must be made to protect our planet and society unless we bring our power into play.

Swing Left

Swing Left is building a lasting culture of grassroots participation in winning elections for the Left by making it as easy as possible for anyone to have maximum impact on the elections that determine the balance of power in our country.

Pro Democracy

Helping state leaders establish a shared vision for what an inclusive and participatory democracy looks like, and engaging with them to win critical fights to protect democracy and promote pro-democracy policies and actions.

Protect Democracy

Protect Democracy is a nonpartisan organization committed to combat the rise of authoritarianism, and preserve democracy for future generations.

NextGen America

NextGen America’s mission is to empower young voters to engage in the political process and ensure our government is responsive to the largest and most diverse generation in American history.

The Civics Center

The Civics Center is a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing voter registration to every high school in America.


Political writers to check out:

Simon Rosenberg, Hopium Chronicles

Veteran political analyst. (And one of the only ones who got 2022 right.)

Robert Hubbell

A newsletter devoted to preserving American democracy.

Joyce Vance – Civil Discourse

Former United States Attorney, currently a law professor and a legal analyst for MSNBC and NBC.

Ruth Ben-Ghiat

Lucid is a solutions-oriented publication that provides clear analysis about the consequences of democratic erosion. It also covers the global resistance to tyranny past and present.

Jay Kuo – The Status Kuo

Committed to protecting the rule of law, our civil institutions, and the future of our democracy. This newsletter takes a deep dive each weekday into important political and legal topics, broken down in plain English.


And last, this:

Small Kindnesses 

by Danusha Lameris

I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk

down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs

to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you”

when someone sneezes, a leftover

from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying.

And sometimes, when you spill lemons

from your grocery bag, someone else will help you

pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other.

We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot,

and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile

at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress

to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder,

and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass.

We have so little of each other, now. So far

from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.

What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these

fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here,

have my seat,” “Go ahead — you first,” “I like your hat.”

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