Like many of you, I experienced the news of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing as a giant, heart-sickening blow. She was such an extraordinary force in so many ways, and I hope that we can carry her legacy on. And like many of you, my next thought was, “Oh shit.” For a year that has already been tragic in so many ways, and for inevitable Supreme Court battle and its impact on the election.
So I cried. And then we watched “Knock Down the House” (if you haven’t seen it, it’s amazing and inspiring). Cried a bit more. And then reached out to the smartest, most politically savvy people I know to ask: What can I do to make a difference.
I got a *lot* of answers, starting with: Use whatever platform you have, and be vocal. I’ve never thought of this newsletter as a platform as much as an opinion-loaded pen-pal relationship with people I don’t know. But if any of you are feeling like I am, and looking for ways to help, I’ve laid them out below. I’d also encourage you to use *your* platforms, as employees, founders, friends, and family members to encourage those around you to register, to get out the vote, and to donate in as much as they are able.
It’s not enough to be quietly good right now. We need to be visibly and optimistically engaged in order to set the tone for everyone around us.
And so, here are some ways you and I can make an impact today, plus a mishmash of food and kid tips to round things out.
Get out the vote: Everyone I spoke with said the same thing: Get as many people to vote as possible, especially in swing states. This is a once-in-a-lifetime election and the scary thing is that it might come down to a handful of battleground areas across the country.
- Make sure you’re registered and have a plan for voting. Easy peasy! Go to Vote.org, where you can check to see if you’re registered, register if you aren’t, request an absentee ballot, and find your polling place. You can also find state-by-state voter registration deadlines.
- Grab some buddies. Make sure your friends and family are doing the same, especially if they live in swing states (all states matter but the electoral map says some matter more than others). Text them, email them, send them a Google calendar invite to a Nov 3 poll party.
- Call, text, write, or virtually knock doors. It can seem intimidating but talking to real people is one of the best ways to encourage voter turnout. Choose your mode of communication (I get tongue-tied calling people so am going to write and text-bank) and set yourself up with a tasty snack. You can sign up to call or text-bank through the Biden-Harris campaign, and I also just learned about Knock for Democracy, which organizes phone-banking events to build in community and moral support (they also have a great Instagram). Finally, I just signed up for Vote Forward, which I learned about from my friend Nandita. They give you templates that you use to write letters to underrepresented voters encouraging them to turn out on Election Day.
Staff the polls: The majority of poll workers (like my mom!) are over the age of 60, which means we’re facing a huge shortage of people to staff the election. If you’re able, consider signing up to be a poll worker (Rob and my sister have both applied!). Power the Polls makes it easy to find out everything you need to know.
Make your dollars count: If you’d like to donate but not sure how to make the biggest impact, swing states are a good place to start. Vote Save America’s Get Mitch or Die Trying allocates all funds across candidates in key battleground states, like Sara Gideon in Maine or Jon Ossoff in Georgia. You can also support the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition’s Amendment 4 Fines and Fees Campaign, which pays the fines of returning citizens who have completed their sentences.
Many of my smartest friends also suggest supporting down ballot (i.e. state and local races) candidates this election because, as this Run for Something (an inspiring org I just learned about from Sarah Kunst) newsletter explains, exciting local candidates can drive up voter turnout even if people aren’t jazzed about Biden and will result in better local and state laws. I just donated Samra Brouk, a Rochester native and former Peace Corps volunteer who is running for New York State Senate, and am excited to attend a virtual event with her in October.
Refuel with chocolate: I’ve had ample opportunity over the last six months to experiment with chocolate chip cookie recipes and I have a new go-to. I don’t agree with the “basic” in Tara O’ Brady’s Basic, Great Chocolate Chip Cookies but they are indeed excellent and react well to tinkering (I swapped the white flour for a mix of whole wheat and spelt). They use melted butter, eliminating the need to wait for butter to soften, and don’t require refrigeration before baking. They’re the ideal crisp-chewy texture, with tons of dark chocolate pockets.
Counteracting cooking fatigue: While the vast majority of our meals are some variation on a grain bowl, we have added a couple simple, stand-out, recipes into the mix. I made Yasmin Fahr’sSheet-Pan Baked Feta after it popped up in my IG feed a dozen times; it’s quick and delicious and can be adapted to other vegetables by changing the cooking time (squash season is now upon us, after all). Similarly, Yewande Komolafe’sBaked Tofu with Peanut Sauce and Coconut-Lime Rice is extremely tasty and makes for great leftovers (kid and adult!).
A comfy, stay-put mask: It took me awhile but I finally found a mask that works for me: Baggu’s Fabric Tie Masks. It has a tie that goes over your head and I’ve found that for me it stays put better than the ear loop ones (though they have those too), plus it comes in a spectrum of great colors. (Side note: I’ve been very impressed with people’s commitment to masks-as-accessories—check out my friend Grace’s fun array).
Cardigan breakthrough: I always like how cardigans look on other people but they generally made me feel frumpy. That is, until I tried this amazing Alex Mill one. I’ve worn it nearly every day this week—over dresses, printed tops, and t-shirts—and think that will be the case all fall.
Magical wellness products worth the wait: I read about Golde and founder Trinity Mouzon Wofford in a roundup of amazing Black-owned brands and promptly ordered two of her cult face masks and a trio of the superfood latte powders. I wasn’t the only one: she was backordered for months. I finally got my Clean Greens Face Mask, Papaya Bright Face Mask, and Superfood Latte Sampler, and have been super impressed by everything. The masks are powders that you mix with a little water before applying, and leave my skin noticeably softer and brighter. And the Cacao Turmeric blend is my new mid-morning treat when I’ve already had too much coffee.
Back to school odds and ends: We’re endlessly grateful that Lilly is able to her 3’s program in person, and she is definitely excited—runs right in with barely a wave good-bye. We didn’t do much prep, aside from dusting off her Bentgo lunch box from last year and deep-cleaning her backpack. Clothing-wise, I continue to love Primary for basics, like leggings in a million colors and these amazing heart jammies. Feel free to use MOLLIECHEN20 for 20% off your first order (not an affiliate, just a fan). I also picked up a few special things for Lilly (like this twirly party dress) and Finn (upstate cool tee) from Taylor + Max, a super chic Black-owned kids’ boutique.
Getting back into reading: We went to visit my parents over Labor Day and my goal was to finish a book while we were there. I sped through Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half in less than a week—it follows twin sisters who leave their small Southern town as teenagers and end up on opposite ends of the country and the American experience. It’s gotten a huge amount of attention, and with good reason. This weekend, Rob and I are going upstate for our anniversary and I’m bringing Yaa Gyasi’s Transcendent Kingdom. I can’t wait for a romantic evening of ignoring each other so we can read our respective books.
And finally, read Irin Carmon’s obituary of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in New York. It’s beautiful and many-layered, and touches on all the different ways in which RBG was truly extraordinary. And, if you have kids, add I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark into the storytime rotation.
Whew. That was a doozy. Thank you for listening and hope you are safe and healthy.