March On! Texas

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5 Tips for Raising Empathetic Children in 2017

5 Tips for Raising Empathetic Children in 2017

The morning after the 2016 presidential election a friend sent me a message telling me she had to explain to her five-year-old twins why a bully won.  I can’t imagine how hard that conversation must have been for her. Or for the millions of parents around the country and the world.

As Hillary Rodham Clinton said during the campaign “Kids hear a lot more than we think.” Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama both made multiple speeches in 2016 about the dangerous effects a trump presidency could have on our children. From his hateful speeches, to his shocking policies, and the appalling appointment of Betsy Devos, there is no doubt that the trump administration is already taking a toll on our children from all directions.

Then the ICE raids and the discriminatory laws coming out of the Texas Leg, such as SB4 and the “bathroom bill” have many of our Texas children feeling directly threatened. The parents I know have been working overtime to counteract these attacks of hate.

I am not a parent but I am a firm believer in the idea that “it takes a village” and we are all responsible for teaching and nurturing the next generation. I built this list of tips based on my studies of child development, my experience as a childcare professional, and techniques I have watched some awesome parents practice with their kids.

These are things you can do as a parent, childcare professional, teacher, aunt, uncle, grandparent, neighbor, or community member to help nurture our little Texans…


Read to them – You might be surprised how much reading a book to a child will influence them. Children’s books are typically designed to teach children a life lesson and those stories may stick with them for years and years to come. Not to mention it will foster a love for reading and learning. One book that always stuck with me was “The Big Fish” in which a big fish takes a couple around the world to find a child to adopt. The couple starts out wanting a child whose skin matches their own but at the end they learn that people do not have to match to be a family.

Here are a few books to get you started!



Volunteer with them – Taking your kids to volunteer will teach them to be contributing members of society and the importance of giving back. Picking up trash at a local park or putting a fresh coat of paint on the neighborhood playscape will teach them that the community must all pitch in to take care of the places we share. Volunteering to serve meals at the homeless shelter, delivering food for meals on wheels, or reading to the elderly at a nursing home will help teach your kids empathy for people that don’t have all of the same privileges and abilities as they do.

Here are some volunteer activities to do with your kids!



Listen to them and talk with them – Parents hear it all the time, “talk to your kids about _________” drugs, sex, bullying. Well the same goes for politics and current events. Kids really do pay attention more than we think and they need help processing the world around them. If your child is in the room or the car when a story comes on the news that provokes hate or discrimination, talk to them about it. But before you talk, listen. Ask them what they think. Find out what they know or what they’ve heard at school or from their friends. Then help them work through that information and guide them in the right direction. Don’t lecture them on shoulds and shouldn’ts. Instead, have a conversation with them. Trust me, not only will they appreciate you treating them as an equal, but it will also help teach them to have productive conversations about tough issues.

Here are a couple links to help you get started:

How to talk to your kids about racism

How to talk to your kids about gender and sexuality



Teach through example – Show children how to be compassionate and empathetic through being those things yourself. Show them your compassion by being sensitive to their feelings and reminding them that they are cared for. Show them your empathy by listening to their problems and concerns, no matter how small they may seem to you, and reacting appropriately. These small things go a long way. When they feel safe and cared for they will feel more comfortable extending that same compassion to others and you will help model ways they can express their empathy to others.


VOTE! – You can play a huge role in your child’s future by VOTING. Your local and state representatives will have a direct effect on your child’s education and opportunities. School board is one of the most important offices to keep any eye on. Voting in progressive and empathetic candidates will help promote diversity, compassion, and empathy in your child’s school and those influences will have a lasting impact on their life.

The next school board elections in Texas are on November 7th in these areas: 

Artist Activist Lisa Congdon:  Women Stay Fierce

Artist Activist Lisa Congdon: Women Stay Fierce

As a fine artist and illustrator known for making whimsical illustrations, Lisa Congdon makes no excuses when it comes to her activist art, despite pushback from some of her fans who say they’d rather just see her “pretty pictures.”  But Congdon refuses to be silent, even at the risk of losing followers.  She argues that as an artist, she must speak her “truth.”  By this she means expressing herself as a “whole” person, not compartmentalizing her private life and opinions apart from her art but rather integrating them so that she gives voice to the things that matter to her. 

The things that she most cares about come from her place as a woman and a lesbian in an American culture that regards both as secondary—the female as subordinate to the male and homosexuality as, at best, inferior to heterosexuality, or worse, as illegal or “immoral.”  Congdon is navigating how to situate these experiences through art so that she serves as a voice for women, lesbians, and others who are marginalized and do not have as strong of a presence or platform.

Having worked with both the Clinton and Obama campaigns, the Human Rights campaign, and other progressive causes, Congdon is no stranger to speaking her truth but she is committed to doing even more.  Here’s a plan of action she set out recently in a blog post and one she encourages other activists to follow:

“+Use your pain to express yourself.
+Make time to express your feelings and beliefs through your art.
+Own your anger or frustration. Do not let others tell you to “settle down.”
+Be authentic: say what you feel and in a way that you would say it. Speak your truth!
+Stop worrying about whether people will stop following you or like what you post.
+Participate in fundraisers with your work.
+Support causes you care about through your art — raise money, encourage others to donate, do pro-bono work for them.
+Connect with other artists who are also interested in using their work and platforms to shed light on political issues and human rights issues you care about; collaborate with them!
+Research workshops in your community that teach about activism for artists. Participate in local initiatives.
+Follow and support fellow artists who are using their platforms to express themselves. This is a time to unite!”

Pictures are copyrighted by Lisa Congdon and kindly shared here.  website and blog

lisacongdon:  instragram

Interview originally posted on–an online community for new political activists.

The Voting App:  “The Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How” of Local Elections

The Voting App: “The Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How” of Local Elections

Don’t want to vote in today’s election because you aren’t sure for whom to cast your ballot?

Not to worry, there’s an App for that. F. Joeseph Santori and Jeff Cardenas, co-founders of an Austin-based technology company developed The Voting App, a free nonpartisan tool that aggregates the “who, what, where, when, why, and how” of local elections, according to address.

Santori and Cardenas developed this App to increase voter turnout. When looking at the best place to test the application, they chose San Antonio because it has one of the lowest voter turnouts in the nation. Reports estimate that less than one out of every ten registered voters actually voted in San Antonio in the past.

After successful launches in San Antonio, Houston, and Austin, the App is now available state-wide. The tool will include other states soon, and the company is coordinating with many organizations to expand the applications’ capabilities.

No more excuses. Get the App and get to the polls by 7 p.m. tonight.

Find out more about the Texas addition of the App and download now.


Artist Activist Abigail Gray Swartz and Rosie the Riveter in her knitted Pink Pussy Hat

Artist Activist Abigail Gray Swartz and Rosie the Riveter in her knitted Pink Pussy Hat

You may know Abigail Gray Swartz’s work.  She’s been getting a lot of attention lately because of her Rosie the Riveter cover on the New Yorker magazine.  But Rosie is a woman of color, and she’s sporting a knitted pink pussy cap. Swartz says of attending the march and producing the New Yorker cover,
“On the Monday following the (women’s) march, I started thinking about the art I wanted to make in response to my own experience, as well as the collective experience of women nationally and worldwide.

I adored seeing the images flooding in of the sea of women (and men) in pink hats. So much pink! I saw a headline from a newspaper that read “She the People” and I thought, “She The People: The revolution will be handmade.”

Read More

Terrilynn Quick and the Uterus Flag Project:  Crafting Women’s Health Awareness

Terrilynn Quick and the Uterus Flag Project: Crafting Women’s Health Awareness

Thursday the House of Representatives narrowly passed a measure to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act, and the Huffington Post referred to the proposed bill as a “’Coordinated Attack’ on Women’s Health Care.” While this round of legislation appears particularly harmful to women, the state of women’s health services have been at the mercy of men and a male-dominated medical profession for too long.

Artist activist Terrilynn Quick recognized this problem and began to address it through her work.   She started the Uterus Flag Project in 2010, which is an investigation into the socio-political concerns around women’s health issues, looking specifically at the overuse and misuse of hysterectomies in America. The project serves as a beginning point of conversation for women who are often silent about their health concerns and too trusting of doctors, who may recommend a hysterectomy without considering other options or a woman’s long term health plan.

The project is based on the idea of the sit and stitch, which is grounded in the feminist ideals of “sharing, conversation, consciousness raising, and craft.” It’s a time for women to create but to also engage with each other about their health concerns and other issues that women face in society today. Women have a long history of this type of collaboration but have not engaged in hand-work like this as much in the late 20th and early 21st centuries as in the past. The Uterus Flag Project is just one attempt at bringing this type of collaborative coordination among women back.

Image courtesy of Terrilynn Quick

Like all craftivism, it is yet another way of giving a voice—both visually and through testimonies of participants—to issues of social justice. In this case by bringing awareness to unnecessary hysterectomies, especially for women who are unaware of the options available besides uterus removal. About 600,000 hysterectomies are performed annually in the United States and it is the second most common surgery performed on women of childbearing age (cesarean sections are the first.) By the age of 60, more than one third of all women have had some form of a hysterectomy.

While some hysterectomies are necessary, such as with invasive cancer, many are not, and the surgery carries risks that many women are not made aware of, such as damage to other organs such as the urinary tract or bowel, that can cause long-term complications. Additionally, young women who have hysterectomies are at an increased risk for heart attacks, stroke, and early menopause. The surgeries have also been associated with serious urinary issues, sexual dysfunction, and depression.*

Thoughtful consideration and conversations should be engaged in prior to a woman’s consenting to a hysterectomy. Many are avoidable, especially if the condition is not causing any problematic symptoms. Learn more about the risks and alternatives to hysterectomies at the National Women’s Health Network.

Find more images of the Uterus Flag Project at


Learn more about the Uterus Flag Project here and here.

Check out this video about the uterus flag project.

Volunteers are Crucial to High Voter Turnout

Volunteers are Crucial to High Voter Turnout

This week’s Marching Orders asked people to get out and vote in the local municipal and school elections that end today.   Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

This contest is for school boards, local officials, and even a few mayoral positions. In the past, many Texans have not bothered to vote in municipal elections. Most did not find out who was running or even what positions were contested.

But voting in these local elections is the most fundamental aspect of a practicing democracy, and these are where a person’s vote can have the most impact. If you ever believed that your vote didn’t matter—these local elections are where you can see one or two people deciding the fate of a community.

For example in Collin County, voters will approve or reject six bond propositions that will fund street, public safety, and park improvements, as well as monies to build new recreation centers and libraries. One of the bonds will impact local historic preservation. Five cities will cast votes for mayors, a government representative with whom constituents can have almost daily contact.

The good news is that voter apathy appears to be much lower in this year’s municipal elections, in part due to the efforts many volunteers have engaged in for specific candidates. Volunteers, many of whom marched in one of the Women’s Marches in January, have taken that excitement and relayed it into a steady commitment to activism, volunteering their time and money to help progressive candidates, some of whom are running in their first election. Volunteers have manned phone banks and hit the pavement, going door-to-door to talk with potential voters.

These efforts are having a huge impact. The first day of early voting resulted in record-breaking turnouts across the state, exceeded by the second day of voting. Here are some early numbers: In Harris County, 73,542 votes were cast as compared with 51,578 votes in 2012 on the second day. In Travis County, 38,079 votes were cast, as compared with 16,382 votes on day two in 2012.

It’s not too late for you to vote. The only way to turn Texas blue is to vote for progressive candidates. None of the other efforts matter if we do not show up at the polls. Get out there and make your voice heard.

Find out more about what is on the ballot.