Activism is alive, well in Highlands

Since the November election, citizen activism has surged. Nationwide, thousands of groups of neighbors are meeting to learn about people power. In December, former congressional aides published an activism handbook called “The Indivisible Guide,” which has been downloaded over a million times. It’s teaching people effective ways to speak to their elected officials.

WV Highlands Indivisible held their first meeting on Feb. 3. About 20 locals reviewed “The Indivisible Guide” and discussed duties and actions. Some related their experiences attending the Women’s March on the day after the inauguration. According to the guide, the best way to be active is to call your members of Congress with your opinions. Postcards, letters and emails are also encouraged. West Virginia Highlands Indivisible members have already made hundreds of contacts to their representatives.

Another way to interact with elected officials is to attend town hall meetings. The group has participated in three. Before each event, they work together on in-depth questions.

On Feb. 23, citizens from Upshur County (now Upshur Indivisible) and WV Highlands Indivisible hosted a town hall in Buckhannon. Turnout was excellent, including about a dozen Tucker County residents. People hoped to ask Sen. Shelley Moore Capito questions. Press representatives were there. Capito was not there, but citizens read their questions anyway. Two WV Highlands Indivisible members were interviewed and appeared on the TV news that night.

On Feb. 28, Sen. Capito’s office held a Mobile Town Hall event in Buckhannon. These events offer people a chance to meet with her staff. Several members of WV Highlands Indivisible attended. The senator’s staff was unable to answer most of their questions. The group then requested to meet with the senator directly. Her office promised to get back to them with answers instead. Four weeks have passed and they have not heard from the senator.

The most recent event for WV Highlands Indivisible was March 18. Sen. Capito, Sen. Manchin, and Representative McKinley were invited to a Health Care Town Hall in Morgantown. It was sponsored by Mountaineers for Progress, the National Organization for Women and West Virginians for Affordable Health Care. More than 600 people attended, at least 13 from Tucker. Manchin took questions on health care, coal mining regulations, cuts to the EPA and more. Neither Capito nor McKinley showed up.

WV Highlands Indivisible has asked for an audience with Capito during the Congressional recess between April 8 and April 23. At the time of this letter, her office has not replied. Also, they haven’t announced any town hall events during the break.

The Tucker activists joined Mountaineers for Progress for its weekly visit to the senator’s Morgantown office on April 11. A Tucker County town hall event is in the works for the summer. For more about WV Highlands Indivisible, go to their Facebook page.