How Did the Americans of Conscience Checklist Begin?
The idea for the checklist began in a coffeehouse (similar to Harry Potter and the French Revolution, and many other great things when you think about it) when the founder Jen Hoffman overheard three women talking about what to trust on the internets and how to speak up and be heard in a trustworthy way. Remember that pre-Snopes era? I mean, try not to, but it’s hard to forget given all the trials going on about that overall concept…
Anyway, Jen (as she explains in the site’s FAQ) teaches social media and strategy and loves research. She approached the women offering to help compile a list of her findings in a weekly email. They knew about 30 people who were feeling the same way as them to distribute the list to, and thus began the checklist. By January they had over 30,000 subscribers. I started subscribing in August 2017 and shortly after Jen got about 20 dedicated volunteers to help. This year they hired researchers and a couple weeks ago they finally made the move to a website due to the number of subscribers. So, it’s definitely grown even since I started.
What Exactly Is Americans of Conscience Checklist
Today the list is a collection of To-Dos that focuses on three core priorities that will ensure the integrity of American democracy:
- Voting access for all people.
- Equal rights for all people.
- The rights of aspiring Americans.
In their words: The AoC Checklist features clear, well-researched actions for Americans who value democracy, equality, voting, and decency. We also practice gratitude, self-care, and celebration to stay engaged.
What I Love Most About Americans of Conscience Checklist
Obviously I love that it’s promoting a solidarity among Americans in creating and enforcing change and holding our elected officials accountable, but what really gets me excited about this checklist is how simple and straightforward it is.
For example, they used to promote their Action Worksheet to get you started. Here you’d look up your Members of Congress, write down your top three priorities, check off that you secured postcards and postcard stamps, downloaded specific apps, and listed your specific actions you plan to do that week.
Now they’ve narrowed it down to three activism priorities (see above), so the action worksheet is not as relevant. However, I find it useful enough to continue promoting because it gives you a quick glance of all your Members of Congress’ contact information. For those of you who love a printable (you know who you are!), check out this one that’s a pocket-sized action worksheet designed by Kelly Wooten.
Super Easy & Not Overwhelming
Once you’re set up with Members of Congress’ contact info and some post cards (or note cards if that’s easier for you), you’re basically ready to roll. Each week the list delivers a clear cut set of actions to follow. You can prioritize so you don’t have to do all, just the ones that matter most to you. Doing just one thing is still more than doing nothing!
One of the best things about the list is that they write scripts for you. So when you call or write your congresspeople, you know exactly what to say and can just read your script. This has really transformed it for me because I always get nervous when I call about stuff like this. The script makes it so you say your piece (usually to a voicemail) and hang up. No fuss at all. Easy.
Self-Care & Gratitude
One thing the list has done for a long time is promoting self-care. They have a self-care worksheet and offer self-care tips in every checklist. In fact, they began taking off one week per month for their own rest and self-care. I love that they do this because it respects that we are all human. This is emotional stuff we’re dealing with and the results and change are often slow moving.
The Americans of Conscience checklist also includes acts of gratitude to perform and highlights positive news from the week to keep you energized and share results and change. The acts of gratitude I especially love because you are sending thank you messages to the people who are taking action on your expressed views. Usually they’re to democrats or liberal activists, but these sometimes include writing to Republicans who publicly state support for something you value or who vote in a way that’s supporting democracy and equality.
The people behind the checklist recognize the world is both beautiful and ugly, and they work hard to make sure you remember the balance.
Subscribing is Free and Easy, Plus It Feels Great
If you feel like this is for you, or even if it’s maybe for you, you should subscribe to the checklist. I encourage you to fill out your Action Worksheet. At minimum fill in the congress people’s contact info, as this will make everything that much easier. Subscribing is free and you literally get one weekly email with a quick message and the link to the checklist. No spam ever. It comes out every Sunday so you can act over the course of the week and pace yourself.
I cannot stress enough how great it feels to be involved, even in small ways that add up over time. Your voice matters.