What Can I Do: 5 ways you can get involved right now

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Whether you prefer to volunteer behind the scenes, spend your dollars to support causes you believe in or you choose to run for office, you can make an impact in big ways and small. They all add up.

Join a Women’s Action Group
Hardy Girls Healthy Women has been empowering middle school girls to make a ruckus since 2000. This month, HGHW is launching a program to support adult women activists—including those just dipping a toe in that activist pool for the first time. Women’s Action Groups will meet in various towns around the state for one hour a month with trained facilitators (called “muses”) to lead a half-dozen or so ladies in getting sh—stuff—done. Groups are open to women of all walks of life and political leanings. Members will be asked to donate $15 a month to HGHW. Check out their site here.

Sing for social justice
Protest songs have helped shape history, proving that when people come together and raise their voices together extraordinary things can happen. Right after the 2016 presidential election, Deirdre McClure, an adjunct music professor at the University of New England, started the Portland Street Choir, an informal group for people who want to sing songs of social justice—like “This Land Is Your Land” and “If I Had a Hammer”—at public demonstrations. Anyone who wants to sing in a group is welcome. It’s free, and the songs are taught by ear with a songbook, so there’s no need to be a super-skilled vocalist. Rehearsals are the first Monday of each month at UNE’s Ludcke Auditorium, 710 Stevens Ave., Portland, from 7 to 9 p.m. See the Portland Street Choir Facebook page for more info.

Prepare to run for office
Remember seeing the statement, “Today we march, tomorrow we run”? Emerge Maine recruits, trains and inspires Democratic women to run for elected office. Applications will be accepted beginning in April for the six-month class that starts in September. For more info go to www.emergemaine.org. SHE Leads is a Maine Republican Party Initiative aimed at identifying, training and supporting Republican women to be political leaders at a local, state or national level. For more info go here.

Stand up for Planned Parenthood
Ever been to a “data party”? Every Monday night, volunteers meet in Portland to input data for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England—one of many ways that volunteers support PPNNE. “We have things going on pretty much every day,” says Nicole Clegg, vice president of public policy for PPNNE. Whether you’re interested in greeting patients, making phone calls or writing letters, there are volunteer orientations several times a month to equip new volunteers for the region’s largest provider of sexual and reproductive health care. If you have insurance, even just being a patient can help offset the costs for someone without insurance. For more info go here.

Promote feminist film screenings
Once upon a time there were complex female protagonists … Believe it or not, Bluestocking Films founder Kate Kaminski says it’s not easy to find films with female protagonists where at least two female characters talk to each other about something other than a man. Seriously! For six years, the Bluestocking Film Festival brought three days of women-centric screenings to Portland every July. For 2017, Bluestocking is in a growth year as a program of CineFemme, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit dedicated to women in film, and is going both national and global. Bluestocking founder Kate Kaminski is taking a year off from the multi-day festival format and instead has a premiere in L.A., followed by screenings around the world, including Maine. In 2018, Bluestocking will be back for a three-day film fest in Portland. Volunteers help find films and venues and promote them, whether that means being a social media maven, going out with handbills and a stapler or calling prospective venues. Feminist film junkies should email Kate at bluestockingfilmseries@gmail.com. Check out their site here.

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