The election of Donald J. Trump as ppppppp… president of the United States has sent much of Berkeley into a frenzy of resistance unseen here probably since the 1960s. If the New York Times is correct in calling the state of California a “laboratory of resistance” to the Trump agenda, then Berkeley could be called the front burner of that resistance lab. (Although the city is certainly not without competition.)
At least a dozen local groups started meeting and organizing against Trump right after the November election, sometimes in people’s living rooms, but also in bars and churches. Everyone, it seems, wants to do something. Awareness of these group spreads partly by old-fashioned word of mouth — there are at least two groups of “70s feminists” who have known each other for decades — and partly by social media, which brings total strangers together.
Unlike in the 1960s, Facebook has been a major organizing force for this particular revolution. One group in central Berkeley was promoted on NextDoor. And national websites created by former political operatives for the Obama and Clinton campaigns have also served as portals where groups can list themselves and attract members.
Like all popular movements, this one is starting with a fair amount of chaos. The national websites were put together quickly— Trump was not supposed to win! — and many of the organizing details are not yet worked out.
Everyone in these groups agrees on the overarching goal: defeat Trumpism and win back the red states in 2018 and 2020. In other words, make America Democratic again. But how to get there? What kind of Democratic candidates should be supported?, the groups are asking. Do groups want to support “corporate” candidates (as some people refer to Hillary Clinton), or candidates more in the mold of Bernie Sanders or Paul Wellstone?
And what should the primary focus be? Defeating the Trump agenda, or recruiting new Democratic candidates for the upcoming elections? What can people living in ultra-blue districts such as Berkeley do? Should Berkeleyans reach out to friends and relative in red states and offer to support them as they recruit and run Democratic candidates, or should the path be following the Democratic Party script and supporting candidates that they pick out and promote? And what about our own Congressional delegation: are they doing enough to defeat the Trump Cabinet nominees? Why are California’s two Senators attending the inauguration, rather than boycotting it like 60 other members of Congress?
All these questions (and many others) are being debated with some passion at group meetings every day of the week in Berkeley, home of the Free Speech Movement. And while there is consensus on the larger goals, there is often less consensus regarding specific tactics and the nuts and bolts of where each group should put its energy.
So what does the current “revolution” look like? This reporter spent much of the past 10 days trying to find out, attending meetings, trainings and gatherings. Spirits among attendees were high, but many of the group leaders were still defining what it is they want their group to focus on; several have begun reaching out to others in an effort to reduce duplication and increase effectiveness. Two groups have already merged into one. All the groups are volunteer-run at the moment, and many people have full- or part-time jobs. Burn-out is a real concern.
Below is a travel guide to some — but far from all — corners of the movement. We begin with one-time events and happenings — such as a five-minute “banging of pots and pans” and Berkeley Rep’s “Ghostlight Project” — as well as an anti-inauguration Blue Ball and three Women’s Marches.
We continue through a sample (incomplete) listing of groups that are meeting in and around Berkeley and planning years-long efforts to defeat Trumpism. (The largest of these movements, called Indivisible, urges people on the Left to use the same tactics the Tea Party used, but this time to move their Congressional representatives further to the left.) And finally, we list some national websites that provide organizing tools and suggestions for local grassroots groups.
ONE-TIME, INAUGURATION-RELATED EVENTS
(In chronological order)
The Ghostlight Project
Jan. 19, 5:30 p.m.
Berkeley Rep, Narsai M. David Courtyard
2025 Addison St. (Check if your favorite theater is participating.)
Local theaters including Berkeley Rep, Shotgun Players and Berkeley Playhouse, are joining over 100 theaters and theatrical organizations nationwide in launching The Ghostlight Project, a collective, simultaneous action, creating “light” for challenging times ahead. Inspired by the tradition of leaving a ghost light on in a darkened theater, artists and communities will make or renew a pledge to stand for and protect the values of inclusion, participation, and compassion for everyone. There will be a short program followed by the ceremonial lighting. This event is free of charge, and members of the community are invited to bring an electric light, flashlight, an electric candle, or smartphone.
The Banging of the Pots
Friday, Jan. 20 from 6-6:05 p.m.
On Inauguration Day, Berkeleyans are invited to go out into the streets and bang pots and pans for five minutes in keeping with the Central and South American tradition of Cacerolazo, which registers protest against the government by banging pots and utensils.
The Blue Ball:
Inauguration Day, Friday, Jan. 20 from 8:00 to 11:00 p.m.
Call it the anti-inauguration ball: “Did the election leave you unsatisfied? Commiserate, activate, donate.” The event is at Home on Treasure Island (free parking). Tickets are $75 and cover food and drinks. Attendees are expected to donate to specific charities while at the event. You can also donate to those charities on-line, without purchasing a ticket. From the site: “The gathering, conceived in love and rage by a group of Bay Area friends in the wake of the Election, offers appetizers, cocktails, DJ sets, and the chance to donate directly to organizations protecting those targeted by the incoming administration… Join us in your best blue cocktail attire to support our shared values of inclusion and equality.”
Not our president with Hadley & the Hippies and Los Bros
Friday, Jan. 20, 9:00 p.m., Ashkenaz, 1317 San Pablo Ave.
Ashkenaz is hosting a “Not Our President” community protest with music, poetry, speakers, and dancing. As the musician Hadley explains it: “This is not just a concert; this is a rare moment in time featuring inspirational speakers from Code Pink and other progressive local groups, including local poet Rosetta Egan and poet laureate Jack Foley, and protestors, hopefully including you! Come and put some flowers in your hair!”
For those who are not traveling to the March in Washington, DC, there are numerous marches to choose from in the Bay area. See a complete list. There are four marches nearby. All the marches take place on Saturday, Jan. 21:
UC Berkeley March
Marchers will meet at noon at Memorial Glade.
The march will go down and back University Avenue and will end with a rally at the glade at 2:00 p.m.
From the site: “We’ll walk from Ocean View Elementary School at 1000 Jackson St. to the Memorial Torch at the corner of Solano and Key Route. We’ll start early — 8:00 am — so you will be able to join other marches in the Bay Area if you would like to. Wear Pink (for Women’s Rights) or Purple (for anti-bullying) or Rainbows (for LGBTQ rights) and a Pussy Hat!. Meet at 7:30 am to make signs.”
Marchers will meet at 10:00 a.m. at Madison Park in Oakland near Lake Merritt. The march itself starts at 11:00 a.m., speeches begin at 12:30 p.m., and the march concludes at 3:00 pm. Members from the Indivisible Berkeley group will be traveling to the march together from each of the three Berkeley BART stations at 9:45 am. Sign up to join them here. (Leaders will be wearing Indivisible Berkeley t-shirts.)
San Francisco March
Rally with speakers, arts, and music from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. at Civic Center in San Francisco. At 5:00 p.m. a candlelight march begins down Market St. to Justin Herman Plaza. The march concludes at 8:00 p.m.
Many women in these marches will be wearing pink pussy hats as an additional protest.
ON-GOING GROUPS FIGHTING THE TRUMP AGENDA
(These are edited descriptions provided by the leaders of several groups.)
Age of Trump Action Group
“We had our first meeting just after the election, and about 12 people in each of our two face-to-face meetings. We are more active and have more participants on-line, where we post actions we want others to join in on. Some efforts take a few minutes, others take a little more effort, like communicating directly with members of Congress. Those who send or fax letters, or make calls, often post a templates or scripts for others to follow. In the future, we plan to participate in actions that will be even more effective and will require greater contribution of time and energy. We have been inspired by the Indivisible Guide, and have found it to be very helpful in guiding our actions.”
Albany Parlor Meeting
“Our goal is to serve people in the area as a primarily face-to-face support group for on-going activism to protect our democracy and to resist the Trump agenda. Our group has formed action teams that work on issues of health care, voting rights and redistricting, civil rights, the environment, and media accountability and influence. We also have a team planning to organize Sister Districts in red areas around local action using the Indivisible Guide. We accept new members and are interested in collaborating with like-minded groups locally and nationally.”
Next meeting: Wed. Feb. 1, 7:00 p.m. (email for location)
“Indivisible510 is a group of East Bay progressives committed to holding our members of Congress accountable, having difficult conversations about politics, and resisting the Trump agenda. We are a small group of folks who already know each other, and for now, we are keeping it a closed group. Still very much in the beginning state of the game, finding our focus, but we are interested in collaborating with like-minded groups.”
“This is the largest of several local groups called ‘Indivisible Berkeley,’ all inspired by the Indivisible Guide (www.indivisibleguide.com). The first meeting was held last weekend at the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists and attracted an overflow crowd of 37 people. The group decided to create four teams to focus on areas of particular interest: overall research and messaging; organizing to defeat the Trump agenda and elect Democrats; lobbying on climate change and environmental issues; and immigration issues. Small teams will meet individually, and the entire group will meet every two weeks.” [Disclaimer: Indivisible Berkeley was organized by this reporter, and works in coalition with Indivisible Bekeley-Cal.]
Facebook page for this group.
Action alert list sign up.
Next meeting: Jan. 29 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists
Indivisible Berkeley – Cal
“This is a group of UC-Berkeley students, faculty, and workers created to oppose Trumpism and fight for progressive values. By directly engaging with our elected representatives at the local, state, and federal level, we use our voices to oppose regressive policies and empower the people and causes working for equity and justice. We coordinate with other Indivisible Berkeley groups to share research, resources, and campaign ideas.”
Indivisible East Bay
“Our group includes members and organizers from across the East Bay, which includes three different congressional districts (CA-13, CA-11, and CA-15). We had about 30 people at our first meeting. By incorporating such a broad group, we can combine our efforts and focus our energy on taking on Trump and the GOP agenda together, following the principles of the Indivisible Guide. Many of our members are also involved in other more locally focused groups. We seek to be a highly diverse and representative organization.”
NATIONAL ORGANIZING WEBSITES AND TOOLS
“Flip the House, flip the Senate, flip the President.” From the site: “We focus on state races, which play a huge role in national elections but are often overlooked. Information about these races is hard to find, and busy people don’t have the time to sift through it.” The site offers to help.
It was founded by “a team of organizers, politics junkies, strategists, and engineers who met each other working on the Hillary Clinton campaign in Columbus, Ohio and Brooklyn, New York. We come from a variety of worlds – international development, consulting, tech, and social enterprise. But we were united by the profoundly moving experience of working on the campaign, and a resolve never to let Nov. 9, 2016 happen again.”
This site was created by former congressional staffers who “reveal the best practices for making Congress listen.” They wrote a “practical guide for resisting the Trump agenda:” The guide teaches those on the Left the tactics that made the Tea Party so successful. In other words, the guide shows how small groups of citizens can use very strategic actions to influence Congressional representatives to move to the left (in this case.) This guide is a good place to start if you want to create a new group or find a group in another zip code altogether.
Living Room Conversations
This site is different from the others listed here since it’s non-partisan and aims to build consensus around “cross-over” issues that can unite people of different political persuasions after this divisive election. The site offers simple guidelines for holding civil conversations on numerous social and political hot-button issues. This group is founded by Berkeley resident Joan Blades, the co-founder of MoveOn.org.
Living Room Conversations is now working with another group called www.hifromtheotherside.com, which also matches people across the political divide. (Living Room Conversations tries to get groups of six people together, to keep things civil and to give support to people on each side. Hi From the Other Side creates one-on-one conversations on-line.)
Rebuild the Hope
This is a huge and resource-rich site created by alumni of the Organizing for Action (originally Organizing for Obama) team. It has all kinds of forms and tools that make it easy to run grassroots meetings and campaigns and saves activists from having to re-invent the wheel. That said, this group is very tied in to the Democratic Party establishment. Those who feel the Bern or belong to the Wellstone Club may want to look elsewhere for candidates (although the organizing tools here are still very useful).
The Sister District Project
Founded by four Bay Area attorneys, this site intends to “pair red districts with blue districts for a bluer tomorrow.” The site says “if you live in a safe blue or red district, your economic and volunteer resources can be channeled to a swing district that needs your help. We can change the map together.” You can sign up to help on the site now, but the red-blue connections are not yet functional.
Two Berkeley women, Amelia Miazad and Kara Ganter, created Wall-of-us “To make it simply irresistible for Americans to become active participants in rebuilding our democracy.” The group describes itself as “the largest daily action site out there” and has brought together suggested “weekly acts” and other ways to participate, including an inauguration day oath. Connect on Facebook, Twitter or by email. Sign up for the Wall-of-us email list.