This Resistance Q&A is with the Progressive Americans Action League working in Oslo Norway.
What is the story behind how your Hub began? Who is involved and what motivated you to begin it?
I started up Progressive Americans Action League (PAAL) two days after the U.S. election. I felt there needed to be more grassroots organizing efforts around progressive issues for U.S. citizens living abroad. I was very concerned about the populist wave spreading through Europe and the U.S. We share global values that I fear are being eroded, not just in the U.S., but also around the world. I wanted to find a way to be part of the resistance back home in the U.S. but also want to engage in my local community here in Oslo, Norway, where we are based.
We started out as a small group of friends and have grown to 80 members and an official chapter of Progressive Action, Global Exchange.
What action has the group taken that you are most proud of?
Our first meeting was in early December, and we decided the very first action we would take is the Women’s March. We found that a Norwegian woman had started organizing the march here in Oslo, and quickly asked if our group could help. PAAL was on the core-organizing team here in Oslo. We had three successful marches in Norway—the one in Oslo was estimated at 2000-3000 people. It was a great kick off for the year.
We have also been building partnerships both in the U.S. and here in Norway. We are currently working with NARAL Pro-Choice America on women’s reproductive health issues—holding letter writing parties to oppose the Supreme Court nominee, etc. We are working 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).
Our Vice-Chair of PAAL is the Oslo lead for the March for Science. Norway had 4 marches! This is what PAAL focused on in April. http://marchforsciencenorway.com
What advice do you have for other people living overseas who might want to start a group?
First, don’t be afraid to start a group and reach out to people!
Second, I think it’s pertinent that we support organizations and community leaders who have been in this fight for decades—they are the experts, they can help you focus your efforts in a more impactful way. We’ve had great success partnering with progressive organizations.
Third, join forces with other activists and groups. We are currently coordinating events with Democrats Abroad Norway and Indivisible Norway. Together we had our first U.S. Civic Activism workshop—one of many we hope to hold over the next few months.
What has been the biggest challenge you feel that groups resisting overseas face?
Burn-out. I think with all the news and legislation that’s being pushed through back in the States, people can get overwhelmed and disheartened. The biggest challenge will be keeping up momentum and activity.
Why do you feel it is important that Americans overseas Take Action? And what impact do you think we can have?
For a healthy democracy to function, citizens need to participate. If we want to make progressive changes; if we want to stand up for our values; if we want to resist xenophobia, racism, misogyny, and bigotry—we have to take action.
I think we can have a strong impact—especially if we work together in solidarity and build partnerships with the organizations that are working on these progressive issues. An example of the impact we can have is working on divestment strategies—as the Trump Administration and Republicans roll back environmental protections, it may be up to us to change the way people and companies think about climate change and investing in fossil fuels. We can be a part of a bigger movement and impact change with our pocketbooks.
We also, as Americans living abroad, have a unique opportunity to see how U.S. policies affect the international community. We can raise awareness to these issues—both with our representatives back in the States and with our local communities. For example, after President Trump signed the global gag rule, Norway was one country that said they would increase funding to global health organizations. We can have a great impact by working with our resident country’s government to make sure they stand up and push back against harmful U.S. policies.
How can people get in touch with you to join your group?
The best way to get in touch with us is by email. We will be launching a website and social media sites soon. Our email is: firstname.lastname@example.org. We do have a closed group on Facebook.