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 renowned comic living in Rapid City, Caitlin Monahan swings into our We the People blog today to share her stories about life in Mongolia, her love for the arts, and her passion for advocacy in South Dakota.

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Caitlin Monahan. I work at the Dahl Arts Center in Rapid City and am involved with community theater and perform stand-up locally. I recently taught myself how to make giant paper flowers, witnessed my friend give birth, and won the Black Hills Comedy Festival.

When did you first hear about the ACLU and why did you want to get involved?

I think I first was exposed to the ACLU through "The American President" and "The West Wing." It concerns me that patriotism has become more associated with flag flying and gun waving than with fighting for justice and for the common good. I am a Bartlett Patriot!

So, you lived in Mongolia for a few years. Tell us about that.

I joined the Peace Corps because I wasn’t sure what to do after getting my undergrad and I wanted to give back. I don’t have a religion and hate guns, so the Peace Corps seemed like a good option. Mongolia is a difficult country with rampant alcoholism, domestic violence, and extreme cold, but the people there are so hospitable and the culture is so rich. I lived in a ger (yurt) and it was below zero for months. The snow would come in the hole in the roof and sizzle on the stove as I did laundry by hand, sometimes by candlelight. It feels like another life in a lot of ways.

How does the ACLU and our work relate to you personally? Are there any issues you feel most connected to?

I was diagnosed with MS after returning from Mongolia so disability rights are important to me. I also have two transgender cousins and have been fighting for LGBTQ rights since high school.

What made you want to attend our event in Rapid City and how did you hear about it?

I schedule all the events for the Rapid City Arts Council and was excited to book an ACLU event at the Dahl. I immediately decided to schedule myself to work it.

What other events by the ACLU would you like to see in Rapid City?

I would love to see more events at the Dahl. We should do a screening of "The American President!"

What would you tell someone who is considering joining the ACLU as a volunteer or member?

Do it!