35 Comments
Sep 7, 2023Liked by Shannon Watts

Hi, Shannon. I'm looking forward to seeing how this community develops. I'm in New York. And what I am interested in is in seeing how other activists are driving local engagement in their communities. Progressives tend to be good at focusing on big, national macro issues, but often struggle at getting the engagement at the local level, which is where the impact is often greatest. I hope to learn more strategies and tactics for supporting community-level initiatives.

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Let me know if you have specific recommendations!

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Sep 7, 2023Liked by Shannon Watts

I'll think about specific people or narrow topics - but here are a couple of areas that I find that I struggle with: 1) better collaboration with potential partners around intersectional issues. For example, in the GVP space, we have often struggled to get Latinx communities fully engaged. When I meet with leaders in Hispanic communities, they often say that it's just not a top priority compared to housing, employment, immigration, education, etc. I'm able to start the intersectionality discussion, and intellectually they get it, but emotionally it doesn't resonate. Would love to hear how others have found ways to build coalitions around related issues; 2) getting folks excited around local elections, particularly in supporting nearby communities where they may not live. They get why it matters at the national level, but locally, the impact does not seem direct enough to motivate them.

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Sep 7, 2023Liked by Shannon Watts

Hi Shannon, Where I am now at 64, creating another new chapter in my life career wise, there is filming going on in my home as I type for a Regional Electric Company commercial, and I rep other locations, I started a year ago. What I would like more from you is Going from Ordinary to Extraordinary. You did that.

There was $ for one child in my family to have college that was my brother, there were many instances that prevented me from living fully for years but now after 4 years of therapy and an almost fearlessness I want to take the steps to believe in myself, to say yes I can pay the mortgage and continue all the volunteer work, and maybe perhaps even have a partner that is able to love me and I him. But it will be unchartered territory for me. When you speak and from your sharing your stories I believe it is all possible. So keep going from your gut, and your passions and it's going to keep us interested.

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YES! This is very much on point regarding my new book and what it's about. I'd be interested in learning more about your journey...

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Sep 7, 2023Liked by Shannon Watts

I first began following you in Instagram when you did a series of interviews for Mom’s/EveryTown. I hope you’ll consider interviewing important figures and not always the ones that are in our headlines. I’ll admit, I love a little hopefulness. You do it well.

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Thank you! Any recommendations of those people??

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Sep 7, 2023Liked by Shannon Watts

I would be thrilled to do something here with you! I’d love to share my insights, and experience with the child welfare system & related nonprofits and how many of the big ones sometimes ignore the simplest solutions for the absolute worst reasons & even pass on resources for kids because they don’t benefit their narrative.

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Sep 7, 2023Liked by Shannon Watts

Hi Shannon. I’m 73 in a few weeks. Loved your post about marriage. Helped me. So my vote is for personal stories. Also I like the idea from another commenter that you interview interesting people.

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Let me know if you have any recommendations re interesting people!

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Sep 7, 2023Liked by Shannon Watts

Hi there Miss Watts. I'm Steven, and i live in lansing Michigan. I look forward to all of your posts. I'm gen x as well. I just learned to program my vcr but now have to learn this roku streaming stuff. It's weird being the same age as old(er) people. I have cats but no kids. That journey is not for the faint hearted. Also, I hate the gop and their gun loving cult. Have a swell day!

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Shannon, thank you for this on top of the gazillion other things on your to do list! It is great learning more about you and your life/experiences. I’m a blue spec of sand in deep red Alabama it’s a challenge to find a place to belong here. I’m looking forward to this space and seeing it grow ❤️

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Sep 20, 2023Liked by Shannon Watts

Hi Shannon, I have followed you for years and have great respect for your work. I love that you are embracing a 'what's next' phase of your life. I am 59 years old. Throughout my adulthood I have served on our school board for 9 years. I have served on the board of the largest food bank in our county. I have volunteered in a myriad of ways in my community. And recently I added a new title...Nonna. I too am at a what's next place in my life, wanting to move into service that has more personal connection. I just don't know what that is, and honestly, the not knowing is very unsettling for me. I look forward to being a part of this community to interact with new people and ideas.

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Your “be a traitor not an ally” essay articulated and hit the mark so well. Thank you for that. I’d love to see a well defined action plan discussed and developed to dismantle white supremacy in our laws and institutions. Speaking as a WW looking for next steps. Thanks for everything!!!

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I live in South Carolina and am a political science professor. What I'm really looking forward to is your Substack community being a place for empathetic, non-toxic conversations focused on what you want to focus on after leaving the leadership of Moms Demand Action. So I'm looking forward to the ride that you'll lead us on and I know it will be an empathetic one with you at the helm.

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First, I want to thank you for what you're doing. I am a 71 year old grandfather and life-long activist, native of New Jersey, now living in Ann Arbor, Michigan to be close to my children and grandchildren. My number one concern, because of its implications for so many other issues I care deeply about, is Voter Turnout among Americans who are either registered Democrats or leaning Democratic. I would like your platform here to help us understand exactly how voter turnout can be consistently increased year after year, beginning in 2024 and who or what organization is having the most success in that area and how all of us can help. As you know 66.5 percent of eligible voters voted in the 2020 Presidential Election, the highest turnout since 1900. Still, that voter turnout ranks the U.S. at 21st among developed nations around the world. For my grandchildren's sake, in particular, I hope we can become a consistently 95% turnout nation as they approach voting age (the oldest is 6), so NOT VOTING becomes the LEAST COOL THING you can do no matter where you live in America!!

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Hi!! I didn’t know that non-subscribers could comment until just now! I was actually thinking of sending a message to you some other way, as I really loved your newsletter the other day about lessons from your marriages. I was so impressed by the commitment you have for your 2nd marriage and how you are going to therapy so often with your husband. I wish my husband and I could do the same! I have my own personal therapist and we have done 1 or 2 sessions with her, but we need someone else to really do couples counseling. We’ve been married almost 6 years and have a 3.5 yr old daughter which has brought a lot of tension and stress. We have definitely become a bit disconnected the last year or 2 and are struggling to find balance and bring that spark back. I so admire you for all that you do, you are so inspiring- it’s unbelievable how you’ve built up moms demand!!! So originally started following you on Instagram for that, now on Substack. I love the newsletter so far and think I’d most like to hear about personal things and the nitty gritty on how you built moms demand.

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Hi Shannon, started following you through my involvement with Moms Demand Action and was there with you in the Senate chambers when the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act was passed. I also heard your final speech to us at GSU recently. I loved hearing about what you have learned as a grassroots activist and particularly LOVED the recent post about what you learned as a white woman. Definitely want to see and hear more about what it means to show up and get involved in the important issues we are facing. AND I am loving your content about the beauty and challenges of this season of life; menopause, hormones, adult children, long term marriages. I am 59 and feel like I am just getting stronger, more focused, more clear about how to use my voice in this season. I love your encouragement to older/ middle aged woman that we are needed in this work. Lastly, I personally would love to see you run for office :-)

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Hi, Shannon. I live in Southeast Georgia and I feel like I'm a complete outcast. I believe in gun control and I actually hate Trump and is Maga mindless minions. Sadly, this includes my family. I no longer go to church since Trump won the GOP nomination. Then their attitude towards covid and wearing masks. So, your Instagram posts have been so refreshing.

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I don’t have particular expectations. I just figure you will have interesting and valuable things to say. The recent post about wisdom you’ve gained in marriage was terrific.

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I'd love to read more about your experience as a leader, and your life experiences in general. And maybe suggestions for how to be effective as a changemaker.

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I'm looking for inspiration and ways to overcome feeling disillusioned. As the leader of Moms Demand Action, I always found you inspiring. I've often wondered how you were able to stay so resilient in the face of constant attacks, hate and having to fight to get common sense gun laws passed. How do you keep going and stay above the fray?

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Hi Shannon! I'm in Atlanta. I've been a stay-at-home mom for nearly 20 years now, and volunteer in various capacities over most of that time. I've learned a lot as a volunteer and activist, but I guess I'm feeling frustrated that no one in our culture considers that translatable to a job or career (I did work several years before having kids). I think you touched on something about this in your first book that was very relatable to me! It goes back to the same theme we kept hearing during and after the pandemic that the work of women (and yes, often of black women) is free labor. We cook, we clean, we educate, we drive, we counsel, and at the end of the day, it's all FREE labor. No one considers me employable! All that said, I am happy that as a person of privilege I've been able to do activism work and be with my kids -- a choice many don't have. But it just further points out the frustration that our society doesn't have any appreciation of women and service workers -- childcare workers, teachers, nurses and medical staff, and other types of caregivers. How sad! This was talked about so much during covid but I don't see anything actually changing. I'm not sure how you can help, but maybe just discussing this topic some more. Thank you!

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I'll continue to post thoughts - this is just a start - but I think we're all looking for information to make sense of the world from sources we trust. I really like reading Heather Cox Richardson and The Nerdy Girls group of women scientists.

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Hi Shannon! I have admired your mission and dedication to Mom's Demand Action. Your ability to clearly and logically address important issues without letting emotion get in the way is something I aspire to! I would like to explore strategies to bring respect and kindness back to everyday life. Seems like many people have forgotten that we can disagree without being angry and mean!

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I'd love to see you interview women who pivoted later in life to try something new. I recommend the comedian Leanne Morgan who started out selling Tupperware in women's homes and her experience lead her to stand up comedy--her story is pretty remarkable and a good reminder that sometimes you get to where you want to be in the unlikeliest way possible. Feels good to subscribe and invest in your pivot! Go Shannon!

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Hi Shannon. I am 64 and my journey in life never involved politics, except following what my brother told me. He was a journalist and news anchor with a minor in Political Science. But in 2016, I became involved in Politics and started getting involved with many organizations such as NARAL, Ultraviolet, Moms Demand, and others. And I am still involved. I also now do spaces on X/Twitter to get people involved, especially in their local elections to make sure we get Democrats elected up and down the ballot. But a few years ago, my life was turned upside down when I was diagnosed, first with a tumor behind my eye, and then a few months later with a Brain Aneurysm. I then learned the struggles of having to live solely on Social Security when I had to retire early. And not getting my full benefits I almost lost everything I had, including my house. I am still struggling but I am doing my best to get back on track from all the bills because insurance paid for nothing. I got involved in my counties Progressive Democrats and now I am fighting fiercely for marginalized people living in Camden County, NJ that are being harmed by an Incinerator facility that is literally killing people, causing birth defects in newborns, health issues for adults and our elected officials will do nothing about this. We go to the County Commissioner meetings to air our grievances and they shut us down and will not let us speak. In all your years of being an advocate do you have any suggestions on how to breakthrough to these people? The harm that is being done is heartbreaking. And the toxic chemicals also spread to other areas. We know there are other options for our trash and we try telling them, and we have professionals with us to corroborate this.

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Hi Shannon, congrats on your new chapter in life! You are an inspiration. I'm a mom/teacher in Long Beach, CA and active with MDA here. I enjoyed your first book and look forward to your next one. I really enjoy hearing about your personal experiences - loved the recent write up on marriage. With MDA groups in mind, I'm interested hearing how others got started in activism and sought out other people/groups to collaborate with, how to best be of use to others already doing the work, how to form a diverse group that reflects your community, etc. Also, I hear you mentioning in interviews that black women/moms have been in this (gun violence) fight for a long time and I would love to hear more details on that to be better informed. Maybe interviews with women who've been in it and have advice or just can share their stories. Good luck with the book!

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I'm Tom from Philadelphia. I enjoy sports, music, movies, travel, the NJ shore, volunteering, etc. And I'm passionate about gun control. I was in-love with someone 25 years ago. She had a daughter who she waited a year to introduce me to, at age 6. For a few years, my paternal instincts were booming. But the woman I was in-love with ultimately married someone else. I have no children, but because of my experience, I'm very protective of them. And I 100% support your achievements and continued activism. I wish I had known you all these years. I'd like to hear more from those on the RIGHT who value children over tactical gun culture.

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I am in Plano and work in Dallas. TX. Tell us where you found the courage, determination and strength to keep going. How do we individually keep going - so we can make the world better for our children and grandchildren?

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Hi Shannon! I’m a Moms Demand vol and former state social lead in Florida. I stepped back from leadership this year due to growing career demands. Once upon a time I missed a phone call from you, still have the voicemail.😊 I’m really enjoying your writing here and looking forward more Shannon Unleashed content (my characterization of the broader scope of topics, not necessarily yours). Both progressive political causes and general adulting topics are of interest to me. Thanks and best wishes for this new venture!

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deletedSep 7, 2023Liked by Shannon Watts
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I can only speak to my own experiences, but I have found that I needed to find and engage other communities over the past 7-8 years in order to find folks whose concerns align with mine. Time is our most valuable resource and I won't invest mine on folks whose values and priorities don't match mine.

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I think there is value in your statement. When I watched Judy Blume's recent documentary on Amazon Prime, she said she learned the hard way to not spend the vast majority of your energy trying to convince others of your beliefs - spend your time with people who already share your values. I'm not articulating it exactly, but I have found that basic sentiment to be true in a lot of areas.

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I totally get that and have experienced similar. Yet, in the advocacy work that I've been doing over the past 8-9 years, I've developed friendships with folks I might never have otherwise known. And, because they share my values, we tend to be aligned in our goals, even if our strategies and tactics may vary. Finding the right community(ies) may take time, but it's worthwhile IMO.

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I hear you India, about the world burning. So many people just seem to have their heads in the sand. I'm very worried.

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