Activism in the 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 February 3rd. About twenty 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. WV 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 February 23rd, 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 Senator Shelley Moore Capito questions. WBOY, WDTV, The Record Delta local newspaper, and other press were there. Senator 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 February 28th Senator Capito’s office held a Mobile Town Hall event in Buckhannon. These events offer people a chance to meet with her staff. Several 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 held March 18th. Senator Capito, Senator Manchin, and Representative McKinley were invited to a Health Care Town Hall in Morgantown. It was sponsored by Mountaineers for Progress, National Organization for Women, and West Virginians for Affordable Health Care. Over 600 people attended, at least thirteen from Tucker. Senator Manchin took questions on health care, coal mining regulations, cuts to the EPA, and more. Neither Senator Capito nor Representative McKinley showed up.

WV Highlands Indivisible has asked for an audience with Senator Capito during the Congressional recess between April 8th and April 23rd. At the time of this article, her office has not replied. Also, they haven’t announced any town hall events during the break. The Tucker activists will join Mountaineers for Progress for their weekly visit to Capito’s Morgantown office on Tuesday April 11th. They hope to meet with the Senator. A Tucker County town hall event is in the works for the summer. For more about WV Highlands Indivisible, go to their Facebook page.

Alain Kieny
Parsons, WV

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