We the People is a blog series that features the stories of members, supporters, volunteers, and allies of the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota. Together we are accomplishing critical work in our state to protect and advance civil liberties across the Midwest and beyond.
A dedicated nationwide ACLU volunteer, living in Sioux Falls, Alison jumps on our We the People blog today to share about college in Nebraska, her passion for smart justice, and why she thinks more people should give their time to causes they care about.
When did you first hear about the ACLU?
I first heard about the ACLU from a college professor of mine. They knew I had a passion for justice and that I would be interested in the work of the ACLU. I later ended up getting involved with the ACLU of Nebraska during college and attended an ACLU national conference in Washington, D.C. Now that I’m living back in South Dakota, I’ve wanted to get involved on a local level.
Which of the ACLU’s issue areas are you particularly passionate about and why?
This is a tough question for me because I care about all the issues the ACLU focuses on. In particular, I am passionate about the issues impacting the LGBTQ and Two Spirit community. I feel like this legislative session there have many bills impacting this community, specifically the transgender community. Transgender people deserve equality and deserve access to gender affirming care. I’m also passionate about the smart justice campaign and the work the ACLU does around criminal justice reform. The criminal justice system is broken and needs serious reform, from sentencing to re-entry.
What is your favorite way to get involved in your community?
I enjoy attending local political events. Whether it’s a protest or an educational event learning about the legislative session, I feel like there are so many opportunities to get involved in our community. Recently, I attended an Ally Academy with the ACLU of South Dakota and learned how to be a better ally for the LGBTQ and Two Spirit community. I think it’s important to attend educational events to be informed about local politics and actively work to become a better advocate.
What would you tell someone who is considering joining the ACLU as a volunteer or member?
Do it! It’s a great way to get involved. I’ve also found it to be really fun, I’ve learned a lot and I’ve met wonderful people while doing so.
Do you have any advice for someone who might be interested in getting more politically involved in their community?
Your voice matters! Sometimes it can feel overwhelming with everything going on. It can be hard knowing where to start when there’s so many things you want to do and so many ways you want to get involved. Know that there’s no wrong place to start and no matter how you are getting involved, it makes a difference.
Recently you took part in one of our phone banks for House Bill 1057. How was it?
I really enjoyed it! It was my first phone bank and I did not know what to expect. It was not nearly as intimidating as I thought it would be. I felt comfortable making the calls and it was encouraging to hear from community members about their opposition of HB 1057 and their willingness to contact their representatives.