The ringleaders of the resistance often come from unexpected quarters. Take the example of the founders of the Long Island City (LIC) Coalition, a community group committed to opposing the Trump administration and achieving political change at the local level. Laura Greenberg and Melissa Bieri are two moms from Hunters Point who first met at a yoga class last summer. Today, they are the organizers of a resistance group over 70 members strong that is already making a stir in their little corner of Queens.
The pair started LIC Coalition as a means of furthering their own political engagement following January’s Women’s March on Washington. Yet it was Trump’s election in November that first lit a fire in Greenberg’s belly.
“It was soul-crushing,” she says. “I have a daughter, and I took her into the voting booth with me and we all took a family photo – it was going to be amazing [and I] couldn’t wait to show the photo to our daughter to show when we elected the first female president.”
Instead, Trump’s success forced Greenberg to confront some uncomfortable questions. “How were we so wrong? How did it happen? What is really going on in the rest of the country that they are so upset that people are willing to do anything to not have the status quo?”
Being a mother to young children in such times also played a factor in what she and Bieri did next. “You always have to leave the world a better place, especially if you have a child. [Now] we are like: what world did I bring them into?” says Greenberg.
LIC Coalition was a means to get some answers to this question and set about building a better tomorrow. The group functions as an information clearing house for budding members of the resistance in Long Island City, connecting eager activists to upcoming political actions and offering a forum for representatives of other organizations to engage and recruit local residents.
“It became the glue that held all these groups together,” says Michele Melnick, a member and also co-founder of LIC Opposition, a local resistance group based on the Indivisible guidebook. “What they provided was something bigger than opposition work; a group that was going to bring everyone together.”
Greenberg thinks of the organization as “an incubator”, able to nurture ideas and shuttle resources to worthy causes as needed. Current partners include ‘No IDC NY’, committed to breaking the Independent Democratic Caucus in the New York State Senate, and the John Brown Party, a progressive group that meets at Long Island City’s popular John Brown Smokehouse. In recent weeks, the group has plugged in with lobbying for the New York State Reproductive Health Act and is also exploring ways in which to support so-called “deep canvassing” – a campaigning technique for changing voters’ perceptions by engaging them on their own turf.
“We welcome everyone,” says Greenberg. “We just want to make sure we are held accountable and stay motivated. The easiest way to do that is to come together every week, set tasks that are easy to digest, and make progress.”
And progress has been made. For example, LIC Coalition has connected with local state senator Michael Gianaris to discuss bills making their way through Albany. On the hyper local level, it’s also participated in a parent-led campaign to install a new stop sign at the corner of 46th Avenue at 5th Street with City Council member Jimmy Van Bramer.
Yet the group has also evolved into a social forum, offering a new space for neighbors who might otherwise never have rubbed shoulders to meet, mingle, and learn together. “One of the activities we are going to keep doing again and again, because it’s a good community activity, is making ‘peace flags’. The children and adults decorate them, and then send these messages of hope and love and support out into the world by hanging them around the community,” says Greenberg.
She admits that the group is yet to exert an influence much beyond its base in Hunters Point. “We know it’s a shortcoming right now that we are not fully representative of LIC. We are working to really bridge that gap.” Future projects envision a much closer political relationship with Long Island’s City diverse immigrant population, on such topics as dealing with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers and voter registration.
In a city famed for its rugged individualism, the Anti-Trump movement has engendered a welcome upsurge of community sentiment – something well encapsulated in the LIC Coalition. No doubt the resistance has much to learn from the yoga moms of Hunters Point.
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