Friday action items: End the year on a hopeful note

The March for Science approaches the Capitol. (jby)

On Fridays this year we’ve been posting small, concrete things you can do to help make things better under the current administration. It’s been a tumultuous year, and one in which it was impossible to ignore the politics outside our labs. We pushed back against an EPA funding freeze, organized to march for Science, phoned Congress more than ever before, supported public school science classrooms, and pitched in to help Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria. We didn’t stop the GOP’s massive tax bill, which will endanger funding for everything from healthcare to basic research in the name of a trillion-dollar corporate tax cut — but we did lessen its immediate impact on graduate students.
Now, as 2017 draws to a close, let me suggest a few more things you might do to help make 2018 a better year.
First, more to help science in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands: the American Society of Naturalists is collecting funds for a special grant to scientists affected by this year’s Caribbean hurricanes. You can pitch in using an item on the ASN subscription page — either as a standalone donation or in the course of renewing your membership for 2018. (Whoops, I’m due for that renewal, I think. Make that a first-and-a-half item.)
Second, if you’ve gotten a pile of science-y books as holiday gifts, consider donating copies to your local public library. Science titles can be a little more obscure, especially if you’ve gotten something field-specific, and even in the age of the Internet, libraries are still where children (and adults) can encounter books they’d never find at home.
Third, if you haven’t before, now’s a great time to pay for some of the journalism we’ve all relied on this past year. I’m a member of my local NPR station, and public radio is always a solid choice for both local and national news — but you might also consider your hometown newspaper, or an independent national resource like ProPublica.
Finally, get ready to help change the government. Campaigns are already underway for the 2018 congressional election. Make sure you’re registered to vote in November, and figure out how you can help — either in your own district, or by finding a nearby swing-able seat with SwingLeft. Prospects look good for changes in the House and even the Senate, but it’s up to us to turn good prospects into better government.
Got a suggestion for an Action Item in the new year? E-mail us!

About Jeremy Yoder

Jeremy B. Yoder is an Associate Professor of Biology at California State University Northridge, studying the evolution and coevolution of interacting species, especially mutualists. He is a collaborator with the Joshua Tree Genome Project and the Queer in STEM study of LGBTQ experiences in scientific careers. He has written for the website of Scientific American, the LA Review of Books, the Chronicle of Higher Education, The Awl, and Slate.
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