L. Haley Nelson lives in Alameda.
My daughter cried when we told her Trump was elected. She is five. One of the longest conversations that I had with her during the election was about the Judgment of Solomon. I told her that we hope for leaders who have wisdom, but that our president is not a king. If Trump won, there was still an opportunity to stop or stand up to his actions if he did not show wisdom in his judgment. My five-year-old knows what Trump has said about women. She knows what he has said about immigrants and what he has said about Muslims.
Perhaps because she is five, her world is monochromatic: right and wrong are absolute. It makes no difference to her if Trump says something in a locker room or in front of a lectern. My five year old daughter understands completely that this is a man who is neither wise enough nor compassionate enough to be a good leader. So the day after the election, our daughter told the other kindergartners waiting to file into class that we are ready to fight.
To that end, our family decided to hold a yard sale once a month, where all the money raised will go to support communities that the incoming administration is targeting. Every month the groups change. Our thought is, if you don’t like who will get our donation this month, there will be another one coming that you’ll be happy to support.
On the day of the first yard sale, it rained. We had worked for weeks to get ready, but on the day, the forecast included not just rain, but heavy downpours.
So the night before we moved the entire contents of our garage into our living room and popped a tent up on our driveway, converting our yard sale to garage sale and hoping for the best. Two hours in, no one had showed up. Then a trickle of curious neighbors walked through with their dogs and wished us luck. Then people arriving who had heard about the yard sale brought items to add to it. And then, both friends and strangers starting showing up to buy something or to add cash to the donation jar.
My brother and his husband, who don’t drive through the Caldecott Tunnel unless they absolutely have to, came by with a check to donate. When we explained to people what the yard sale was for, they asked us to keep the change for their purchases, or added an extra bill to the donation jar. Our first yard sale, in the pouring rain, raised more than $250 dollars that was donated to LGBTQ youth organizations, The Trevor Project and Lyric.org.
This month, the yard sale proceeds will be donated to Planned Parenthood and The Center for Reproductive Rights. In March, all proceeds will go to two Immigrant Rights groups. In the following months, sale proceeds will be donated to the ACLU, Black Lives Matter, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Environmental Defense Fund and more. If we can keep matching the January sale, then that’s thousands going to folks fighting the good fight for civil liberties and vulnerable communities.
We wanted to do something. We wanted our two girls to see that we are doing something — and that we are not alone. After two weeks of Trump in office, people are no longer asking what they can do. They are asking what else — on top of what they are already doing — can they do? We are coming up to our second yard sale in a week or so, and I am wondering how powerful would it be if this spread?
What if yard sales started popping up all over the place, as a grass roots strategy for funding a movement over the long term? How big of a recycle and reuse project would it be if, on a regular basis, we take stuff that we don’t need and sell it to folks who do need it at bargain prices? That’s cutting out the packaging, the landfill and the carbon footprint of shipping.
What would be the impact of neighbors getting together over gently used toys and never used exercise equipment to discuss the next march, the next City Council meeting, the next election? And, what a message, to the billionaire in office and those that fill his cabinet, if the opposition to their policies and actions is funded not by corporations or lobbyists, but by community yard sales.
L. Haley Nelson lives in Alameda.
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