Ordinary-people-turned-activists packed Iowa City Brewlab Friday night for “Postcards and Pale Ale,” an event organized by Johnson County Supervisor Kurt Friese. Attendees filled out stamped postcards to send to congressmen, state legislators and even President Donald Trump. By the end of the night, the box was filled with over 1,000 postcards.
After the Women’s March last weekend, Friese said he felt compelled to channel the momentum of the political moment into something productive, and created a Facebook event. The response was unexpected and overwhelming.
“I thought it’d be me and about six of my friends might show up here and have a couple beers and write a couple of postcards, and instead, look around, it could be 200 people here,” Friese said.
Packets containing addresses of elected officials representing Johnson County were provided, along with a map of the county for those who weren’t sure who their state legislators were. Guests were encouraged to write to whomever they wanted, but some information was provided to get them warmed up.
Friese provided a sample script which asked Republican Sen. Joni Ernst to reject Betsy DeVos’ nomination for Secretary of Education, and there were other scripts circulating encouraging various officials to reject policies that target immigrants. Local activist Matthew Pierce talked to the crowd about a bill that would weaken gun control in the state and shared a sample script and contact information for legislators on the applicable committee. Pierce encouraged attendees to learn more about what’s happening in Des Moines by visiting the Iowa Legislature’s website.
Jefri Palermo, a lifelong activist and staff member at the University of Iowa’s School of Social Work, brought homemade postcards pre-addressed to members of Congress, and Hello Kitty cards for President Trump.
“I feel very strongly that Trump’s policies are going to devastate civil rights for a lot of different people and a lot of different groups, and we have to do whatever’s necessary to defeat him,” Palermo said.
Friese said that, due to the positive response, he plans to organize additional events in the future, at least once a month. He encourages anyone who’s interested to check out the Facebook group from which this event was born.
The group that organized the Women’s March on Washington is also promoting advocacy through postcard-writing as part of its 10 Actions/100 Days plan to continue channeling the momentum from the march. Another local group will meet to take on this task at the Iowa City Public Library tomorrow, Sunday, Jan. 29 from 3 to 4 p.m.