Updated: May 22, 2020
As we stumble through this pandemic, unsure of what our future will look like, one thing is certain: our government is letting down millions of its people by mismanaging a crisis and not bailing out its people. I have been devoting myself pretty steadily to the UBI movement to do what I can to make sure that the people do not go without financial security, and to join others advocating for this basic level of support. Since the crisis, we have been focusing our efforts through bailoutthepeople.com as the go-to hub to take action , this is from the collaboration of many different organizations including Income Movement, that I work most closely with.
With over 13,000 people sending letters to their representatives since mid April, the need for recurring cash payments being a part of any stimulus package has millions of lives depending on it and we will not stop giving a voice to the people who need it most. With so much uncertainty over their heads whether that is feeding their kids, keeping a roof over their head, or managing a closed business; people desperately need stability. It is heartbreaking to see the people adamant to risk their health so they can return to work because they know they cannot survive without financial support or they are devastated by losing everything they have built. With the pressure on Congress, we have watched the number of co-sponsors grow to support proposals like H.R. 6496 & H.R. 6553 that will do this, and even Speaker Pelosi mentions this, but our Representatives are not in a place where they themselves live the urgency and continue to not do their job to the level that is required and expected. We've been gravely disappointed that the HEROES Act did not include recurring cash payments. I don't know about you, but I think that the people deserve better than to have their representatives fight and negotiate over whether or not they might give their constituents financial security while the government also has a pandemic to manage.
As a response to our outrage, our disappointment, and the unnecessary suffering that is happening in our communities , on May 16th, after two weeks of preparation, other UBI supporters and I braved the public 6ft apart with masks & our cars to Shake Up Congress for Recurring Cash Payments. We took to the road for the second time to organize a car-protest parade that ended with a memorial that tells the stories for the people whose lives depend on this and the people who demand recurring cash payments. Portland joined Pheonix, San Diego, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and New York. These photos are from our Portland event.
I made a lot of these signs in the week leading up to it, covering them in packing tape so they could endure the rain, and this being my first time doing an installation there was a lot to learn. I constructed a lot of this to be able to hang or be staked into the ground, but the site didn't fair as well for this. I printed over 500 letters to put in that case, and it really weighed on me what holding all those letters felt. It made me realize how the digital systems of contacting your representative has really impeded the weight that your voice should have. It's frustrating that the thousands of emails that are sent to a representative can just be dismissed and if I dropped all of them in their laps and they physically held the weight of their constituent's words (which doesn't even compare to the weight and value of their life), I can't help, but think: would it matter to them more? One representative represents an average of 700,000 people. Maybe they shouldn't. And that is why taking action really matters.
I also did some design work for our main posters for the event:
Overall, it was a great turnout. There are a lot of other thoughts to work through on what
organizing an event during the crisis with social distancing being a factor felt like, but ultimately it was so good to see people come together. I know that in a time that is stressful, unstable, and chaotic that it feels good to have something to do and be a part of. Each of these parades we do we learn more of what worked, what needs to be tweaked, and get new ideas to bring to the next. Ultimately though, I wish that this had been our last because our representatives would have done their job. I think about the people being forced to go back to work, getting their unemployment benefits stripped from them, and the people who have lost so much.
I plan to highlight some of the work I do as an organizer, and continue to tell my story because I think transparency is useful. Not only does it help give big grandiose events background and weight, but I hope it also helps other people learn to replicate that. The work of an organizer can feel like labor that doesn't get acknowledged, especially because most people only arrive to the show, but they don't see the person who spent hours making calls to invite those people. They don't see the daily meetings that led up to it ensuring each event had gotten its press releases sent out, their day of organizing coordinated, all of the social media posted and shared, and at the end of an event there can be a disconnect. Not really understanding why you're asked to do what you do, and I hope by sharing this insight it helps people connect to the cause more. I am a big believer in breaking down barriers, and never really understanding the bones of what goes through organizing events like this was something that in the end I assumed I couldn't do or didn't care to do. Being an organizer that's a part of a good team can be the difference of a message that makes an impact, and a cause that gets believed in. With a future needing to be rebuilt, restructured, we are going to need organizers more than ever, and I hope the help grows. This is our second one, and we learn more about what works and what needs tweaking. We are growing, and build experience to what we can manage, what we need help with, and are excited to continue to bring people in and make an impact that will change our society for the better. Thank you for showing up.
If you'd like to learn more about this movement, visit bailoutthepeople.com