Global Activism Can Turn the PAGE

By the Progressive Action, Global Exchange.

We started as a small group of friends on three continents having a staticky Skype call, wondering what role we could possibly play in the world after the election on November 8th. Today, we’re an organizing network with members in over 50 countries worldwide, called Progressive Action, Global Exchange, or PAGE.

“We realized we have a responsibility to the communities we come from and the ones in which we currently live.”

When we began in those weeks at the end of 2016, like our friends in the States, we felt despair and fear. Many of us also felt disoriented as we watched from afar, or at a loss for words when friends abroad asked us to explain how this had happened, or what it would mean for the world. Like so many living in the States, we felt the need to fight against Trump’s policies, and the hatred he stands for and incites, but were unsure what role we could play from far away. When activists in the US called on people to focus on their local communities, we wondered what we could we do from across oceans.

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PAGE Senegal members at a solidarity event on the day of the Women’s March.

In January of 2017, we started organizing weekly meetings in our various countries of residence to discuss these questions. We also wanted to learn, take concrete action, strengthen relationships with existing progressive movements, fight racism and other forces of oppression and build community. Across the world, our groups came to similar conclusions: we realized we have a responsibility to the communities we come from and the ones in which we currently live. We developed a guide so others around the world could hold meetings as we were doing.

A few months in, PAGE members fight for progressive causes by contacting our representatives, organizing divestment action, educating ourselves, building community, and contributing to existing efforts in our countries of residence. We focus on four issue areas where US policy has the greatest impact abroad: environment, immigration, U.S. foreign policy, and global corporations.

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Meeting of the Progressive Americans Action League, an affiliated group in Oslo.

We’ve organized so as to make connections where we are, and coordinate globally. PAGE’s coordinating committee sends out weekly actions to our members, focused on our priority areas. Our member groups meet regularly to do the actions, and also build links to existing movements where they live and communities in their countries of residence. As much as possible, we coordinate and learn from one another and with existing efforts. While many PAGE members are US-Americans, we’re also inclusive of people of all nationalities, and have allies from many countries. Members include a broad range of seasoned activists, and people organizing for the first time. While some organize in groups, some members commit to doing weekly actions on their own, from wherever they are.

“We encourage chapters to strategize around how we may use our varied privileges for progressive, anti-racist, feminist, and anti-oppressive causes.”

PAGE organizes across a diverse set of countries, cultures, and individuals.  We aim to confront the different power dynamics between our countries of residence and the US and to engage fully with the privileges we have as individuals and a group. We encourage chapters to strategize around how we may use our varied privileges for progressive, anti-racist, feminist, and anti-oppressive causes. We include some tips on doing this in our guide, and are also finishing an in-depth anti-oppression guide to support our groups in this work, which will be available soon.

Many of our actions encourage members to work with local activists, or amplify local issues. For instance, the Senegal PAGE group heard concerns about HR 802, a bill that would cut aid to Senegal because they co-sponsored a UN Resolution that condemned Israel over its settlement policy. We organized our global network, and contacted US-based Indivisible groups, to call members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs to oppose the bill. Progressive Americans Action League (PAAL), a PAGE-affiliated group based in Norway, coordinated with local activists to plan a satellite Women’s March, and volunteered with Greenpeace Norway and Framtiden i våre hender (The Future in our Hands) to work on divestment campaigns in fossil fuel industries (and more specifically in DAPL).

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The Niger PAGE group at the Niger river in Niamey.

We also encourage our US-American members abroad to stay connected to what is going on locally, in their hometown communities, which isn’t always easy to do from afar.  Caroline, a PAGE Member in Niger, has also gotten more engaged with her community in the US. She notes,  “I have always considered myself an engaged, informed citizen and yet had never called my representative’s office…Through PAGE, I started calling his office and writing to him through his website so that he would know that his constituents do not all agree with him. PAGE also encouraged me to join my local Indivisible chapter [in the US]….It’s empowering to know that even a relatively small group of us can make our voices heard.”

PAGE Paris has begun hosting regular postcard signing party outside Shakespeare & Co, an iconic English-language bookstore in Paris, focusing on environmental causes. PAGE Paris sits outside the bookstore with a sign, inviting Americans to look up their representatives and write them in support of the EPA, for climate action. The group has sent dozens of postcards.

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PAGE Paris hosts a regular postcard signing party outside Shakespeare & CO.

It is easy to feel ineffective or unengaged while abroad.  However, we’ve realized that our position abroad gives us an advantage in acting on certain issues. Today, these are PAGE’s four focus areas.

  • Global Corporation Watch From abroad, we can influence global corporations. For example, we pressure investors the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) to divest. We also plan to organize boycotts against Trump’s global businesses.
  • Immigration and Refugees As our nation closes its borders, we support movements for sanctuary in our countries of residence so that refugees and immigrants have options, and channel resources to legal services organizations
  • Foreign Aid and Foreign Policy: We have a unique perspective of how US foreign policy impacts people around the globe. We keep up with legislation that impacts the countries where we live, and advocate for policy that makes sense for US-Americans and for global citizens.
  • Environment and Climate: Many of us live in areas dramatically impacted by climate change. We can use this position to share stories from the front lines of climate change with constituents in the US and to work with local activists.

Wherever you are, whoever you are, we welcome you to join us. Check out our website at www.weturnthepage.org to get on our listserv, find a group near you, or learn how to start one.

Do you have a story to share from overseas or an action of resistance we can learn from? We would love you to share your experience: americansresistingoverseas@gmail.com.

 

 

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