In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, many people have channeled their political anxiety – and elation – into social media. Some community organizers in Austin are working to help people go beyond those online platforms and get involved with the causes they care about.
On Election Night, David Gimnich and his wife Cathryn Snyder shared similar reactions to Donald Trump’s victory – grief, anger and concern for the social causes they cared about. Cathryn Snyder woke up the next morning and went right to a community meeting.
“For me, I was immediately ready to get to work,” Snyder said. “I respect that everybody kind of was grieving in a way, but I was already mad and ready to work.”
For Gimnich, getting involved took a little more time.
“I grieved in a lot of different ways and kind of really just poured myself into my work, and then now, I’m coming out and I’m going to volunteer, and I’ve done a lot of online research, but I’m ready to physically get active,” Gimnich said.
A few weeks after the election, Gimnich and Snyder attended a fair put on by the group Activate Austin at the Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex in East Austin. Organizations like the Austin Justice Coalition and Environment Texas gathered to get the word out about their causes. Snyder and Gimnich had previously been active in online groups. They’re both members of Pantsuit Nation, a private Facebook group of almost 4 million Hillary Clinton supporters. But after this election, they felt the need to get involved in person.
“We had talked about how we can as a couple divide up our activism, and he takes a lot of environmental initiatives, and then my main interests are reproductive rights, immigration rights,” Snyder said.
Becca Hyatt with Activate Austin says they wanted to represent groups that felt particularly targeted this election cycle, including people of color, Muslims and immigrants. She says now more than ever, she’s hearing from people who want to feel like they’re making a difference.
“We were really focusing trying to be deliberate or organizations with opportunities for action that people could act get involved, because that’s the sense that we were getting from peers and friends and people that we were kind of trying to seek feedback from, that people wanted to get feet on the ground,” Hyatt said.