Friends, I'm completely bleary eyed after a whirlwind couple of days in Washington, D.C., followed by what very well may be the worst night of sleep in the history of my universe (Vi is sick and woke up every hour...aagggh). However, my (somewhat cloudy) mind is still spinning over the events of the last couple of days and I wanted to take a moment to share something with you.
I was in Washington for a ONE Moms board meeting and to participate in the ONE Power Summit, an incredible event that gathered 200+ impassioned volunteers from across the country for briefings and training to lobby for meetings on the Hill. There were so many people that I couldn't fit everyone in the frame from the very back of the room:
I will admit; my initial, reflexive reaction to the word "lobbyist" isn't usually the most positive, thanks to corruption reported in the news and portrayed in movies and books. But my perspective on that word shifted this week. As many of you may know, I believe in the power of making your voice heard and the power of small actions to help move the needle. Yesterday, I lobbied for bringing energy to Africa via the Electrify Africa Act + prioritizing funding for global development programs such as GAVI (which provides lifesaving vaccinations and immunizations for children) -- the feeling of assembling with a crowd of volunteers passionate about a mission was truly electrifying. While at the offices of Senator Markey and Senator Warren I was not only moved by how engaged their staffers were in hearing from ONE advocates (of which there are 40,000 in Massachusetts -- FIST BUMP!), but also by how many constituent calls the front desk was fielding (yes, there are real people waiting for your call and answering the phones!).
Why am I telling you this? Because I want to remind you of the power of your voice. And how much your state representatives actually do want to hear from you. And how important it is to teach your kids that their voices matter too. Whether it's attending a rally (the Mother's Out Front rally I attended a few weeks back was incredible), writing a letter to local administration (Laurel and I have done this several times, both to issue thanks and constructive comments), taking 2 seconds to sign a digital petition (like this one in support of smallholder farmers in Africa), sharing with your loved ones about something you care about (like the FashionABLE Genet scarves shown above), or placing a call to your Representative or Senator (I now plan on doing this more), SPEAK UP. As I departed the Hill for Union Station I was overwhelmed by emotion. I couldn't stop looking back at the Capitol Building, thinking, we are so lucky to have the freedom to speak up. And that more than ever, even when -- especially when -- problems seem large and intractable, we've got to exercise that freedom and make our voices heard.
Image credits: thumbnail sticker by ONE.org; Genet scarf photo by Liz Gumbinner; remaining images by Christine Koh