2016 Presidential Election Fallout

gelserIn wake of the results of the 2016 presidential election, as shocks reverberate throughout the nation,  wind ourselves peering through a thick layer of tension and foreboding, to see people scrambling by—doing their best to chin up and problem-solve new ways forward.

The local Corvallis community is just one in the masses of places and people severely impacted by this election, however, hopes remain. Upon checking in with some of our city’s citizens and leaders, we see, overall, a steadfast resolve and propellant force. You can bet our city is determined, and doing their best to remain positive. But don’t just take it from me. Hear what some of our state and city leaders have to say, how they’re planning to take care of themselves and others in this time of change and needed unification.

Senator Sara Gelser, Oregon State Legislature
“As a community member and legislator, I will continue my efforts to amplify the voices of those who are living in the margins and shadows of our community. That role is even more important now as so many have expressed an overwhelming fear of the future. I plan to continue to speak out against acts of overt hate and violence, and bring attention to discrimination in its more subtle, pervasive, and systemic forms.

 I also plan to go back to work developing policies that ensure that Oregon’s economy works for every Oregonian, that we have an education system that is responsive to the needs of all students, and that we protect the social services safety net that is so essential to so many Oregonians. We’ve made a lot of progress in Oregon in recent years, and I expect we will continue to edge forward with that work here in our corner of the world.

Finally, I am heartened by the overwhelming number of young women and girls who have reached out to me over the past week who are inspired to get engaged as community leaders and run for office. I look forward to mentoring these women and continuing to encourage an ever more diverse panel of candidates to run for local, state, and federal office and to serve on boards and commissions.”

Anne Schuster, Benton County Commissioner
“The morning after the election I wanted to paint a watercolor picture of a persimmon. It was therapeutic, allowing me to focus on the beauty of nature and not obsess over the election results. After that, I spent a lot of time talking with people in the community as I walked between various downtown meetings.

The results from this election make me want to take care of people. To tell them they are not unwanted. I feel protective. Everybody counts!

We can focus locally because we live in a stellar community. For the national level, I am not going to worry until I have to. Stress is the worst thing for one’s health. That takes us full circle back to painting persimmons…”

Cindee Lolik, First Alternative Natural Co-Ops, General Manager
“We live in a great community which acknowledges that everyone, regardless of economic status, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or political affiliation, deserves to be treated with the basic respect every person is entitled to as members of the human family. I will continue to work for expanding equity, justice, and sustainability in our community, and making sure our business continues to provide our community with healthy choices, that is the best self care I can strive for.”

Bart Bolger, Veterans For Peace (VFP) and Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Member
“I will rededicate myself to pursuing radical change—meaning getting to the root of the problem—and not settling for concessions offered by those in power.

In this election, we see the result of many years of reformist change which did nothing to fix the underlying system. Reform works at the local level and on small problems, like adjusting a bus route to serve more riders. We cannot fix a national government beholden to big monied interests (capitalism run amok) nor a society afflicted with racism, patriarchy, and classism without big, radical change. It cannot be done by electing a different president or leader of the DNC. Self-defined progressives and conservatives alike are harmed by the current system. They just chose different paths to correct it, normally by accepting minor reforms that do not work over time. Even the “New Deal” was a concession and has been whittled away over the years.

So I say, get to the root, work for radical systemic change and build a community and movement to advance that change.

On an interpersonal level and of the most immediate concern, I will help to protect those most vulnerable to the anticipated policy and legislative changes that will place them at risk of physical and mental harm.”

Helen Higgins, Boys and Girls Club Corvallis, CEO
“We are acknowledging our staff and members’ feelings and then talking about how the work we do for kids makes positive and lasting change. Our staff is using this as a teachable moment with our youth to spur discussion on how individually and collectively they can get involved in our community to make a difference. And we’re encouraging staff to either stay off social media for the next little while, or counter any negativity by posting joyful or positive pictures or messages.

This is a great time to really understand what resiliency looks like, how to overcome disappointment, or win gracefully depending on the view.

Over all, stay optimistic as our country continues to grow up. This is either our terrible twos year, or our angsty adolescents, not sure yet!”

Jay Dixon, Benton County Commissioner (2000-2016)
“This last election day was clearly a shock for many people. I encourage folks to not speculate (another word for guess) about what might happen. Watch carefully, and if something untoward appears to be in the planning stages, band together with others who share your concern and take action. Although their power has been weakened by Tuesday’s results, our senators, congressmen, and congresswoman are still in place and can still be relied upon to help in many cases. While it may feel like the world is coming to an end, it is not (at least as a result of this election) and we have plenty to do to continue to carve out the kind of world we want to live in. We’ve had setbacks before.

Don’t get caught up in all the rumors of things that may never occur. Have hope, band together, continue to pursue your goals, and surround yourself with people who share your goals and seek positive outcomes.

Personally, I am seeking yet another career; I have some significant volunteer commitments.  With the help of family and friends, “I’ll Get By!” (for those of you who remember that old tune).”

Lisa Wells, Co-Owner of Live Well Studios
“One of the oldest meanings of yoga is to yoke, but not to yoke just anything, yoga refers to yoking a wild horse to a chariot. The human mind was observed to behave like a wild horse, liable to start and jump at any whim. Patanjali, who wrote the Yoga Sutras some 2,000 years ago, says that yoga is attained through practice and imperturbability. In other words the wild horse of the mind can be trained to best benefit if we practice daily, remain steadfast and focused, and do not allow life’s irritations to divert us from our goals.

In the Bhagavad Gita, a mythologic text contemporary to the Yoga Sutras, Krishna says that yoga is selfless action. Krishna tells Arjuna, the hero of the epic, that he must show up on the battlefield of life and act, do his dharma, his calling, and let go of the fruits of his actions. In a simple modern colloquialism: “Do the footwork and let go of the result.” Krishna is a god incarnate, Arjuna is a warrior. Krishna does not tell Arjuna to go into the forest and pray. He does not tell Arjuna to turn the other cheek or wash the feet of his enemies. He says, and I summarize, “You are a warrior, it is your calling to fight a righteous battle, you must show up and fight the battle before you. You may not win, but you may not turn away.”

So what will I do in this time of turmoil? I will take the lessons of yoga and I will show up for my life. I will practice meditation and yoga postures and movement. I will stay strong and healthy so that I may arrive on the battlefield of my life prepared for what is put in front of me. I will do the footwork and let go of the outcome of my actions.

In daily life, this looks like my mundane daily meditation. I sit in my garden lean-to every morning rain or shine for 30 minutes to an hour. Later in the day I will move my body through yoga postures, dance, bike riding, weight lifting. I will enjoy the moment of life that I am in. I will support those in need and I will step forward to defend the harassed and abused. I will minimize my participation in consumer culture and I will conserve resources. I will boycott companies that perpetuate abuse on the planet or other humans. I will write letters. I will call politicians and business people who have the power to protect both native people and the planet.

I plan to be leaving to join the Standing Rock Water Protectors within the next couple of weeks. I am called to show up in support of those standing up on the battlefield of indigenous rights, the rights of the environment and the planet. I intend to be willing to put my body where my heart is and to show up where I am needed and can make a difference. If you would like to support Standing Rock and have North Dakota winter-reliable resources to gift to the Standing Rock Protectors (sub-zero shelter, propane stoves, solar panels, oak or ash firewood, financial donations) please feel free to contact me. Or offer your donations to the Native American Longhouse at OSU or directly to the Water Protectors online.

Finally, I will keep these words of
@sonofbaldwin in the forefront of my mind: ‘We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.’”

Annabelle Jaramillo, Benton County Commissioner
“Our county government will continue to serve all who live and visit here. I look forward to making Benton County a welcoming and safe place to be!

I am a defender of civil liberties and an advocate for social justice. I will continue that work. Personally, I am turning to my family and close friends for support and will respond with my support for them.

And tonight, my sisters and I will see and hear ‘Il Divo,’ a remarkable quartet at the Schnitzer auditorium in Portland.”

Steve Lundeberg, OSU College of Business Communications Specialist, Journalist
“For support I look to anyone who can join me in the belief that treating others how we wish to be treated is pretty much the foundation for being a decent human being. It’s really tough to be a quality person without at least making an effort to be kind, understanding, and empathetic. Most importantly I look to support from my girlfriend Laurie, who’s a member of multiple groups denigrated by the President-elect, and of course my main aim is to support her in any way I can also. Together we’ll work to prove that love conquers hate and that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. We plan to take an active stand, even more than usual, anytime we see acts of evil by people emboldened by the election results—or acts of evil, period. Beyond that, I’ll continue to coach baseball, where all that matters is a player’s talent and dedication; that is, whether gay or straight, white or black, Asian or Mexican, Christian or Muslim or Jew, it’s the content of someone’s baseball character and overall character that matter, which is a great concept for the rest of life to strive for.”

Kim Scott, Trillium Family Services, President & CEO
“[This year’s] historic election outcome has left many of us feeling saddened and confused, and others of us heartened by the potential for political disruption and change.

In any case, our goal at Trillium Family Services is to continue to take care of each other, be supportive, and practice all of the things we have learned and continue to discover through our organizational journey towards trauma-informed care. Our efforts to transform Oregon into a safe, supportive place for ALL people to live, work, play, learn, and worship will continue to thrive.

What is undeniably true is that our work makes a difference. We have been there for people who need us, we have taken on the battle of fighting stigma, and we have committed to being an inclusive, diverse and anti-racist organization focused on equity and fairness. Regardless of political outcomes, these ideals are still relevant, maybe even more so than ever.

I am so proud to be the president and CEO of this organization and I invite you to join us in our efforts to Keep Oregon Well!”

By Stevie Beisswanger

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