Taylor Barnett-Torabi

My Second Pandemic Birthday

by Taylor Barnett-Torabi

I've literally never written a blog post on my birthday, but this one is for a good cause. Please keep reading past my moans.

I was really looking forward to 2020 and 2021, not only is Spring my favorite season but I was going to climb in new states, led my first 5.9 route, give new talks in-person, visit new places like Mexico City, and so much more. But it is all on pause (still). It sort of feels like two whole Springs just didn't happen. I can see some sort of a light at the end of the tunnel, but we aren't there yet and it won't be Spring anymore.

But I'm going to continue try turning it into something that feels a little less hopeless.

Last year, I raised over $500 (+ $200 match for me) for Central Texas Food Bank. It was the only way I felt like I could be useful at the time. I felt helpless. This year, I feel a little less helpless, but we are far from back to "normal."

I'll be honest, I was extremely indecisive on what organization to raise money for. As some may know, every other Spring in Texas the Texas legislature meets for their regular session of 140 long days, like until 2am into the night long, calendar days. Every session there's usually a single issue I try to focus on since I can only do so much while working my full time tech job, but honestly this session feels like the greatest onslaught in recent years. It's voting rights, LGBTQIA+ rights, reproductive rights, human rights, and so much more. There's not just a few major bills targeted people, there are a dozen or more. And many of these major bills that are coming to committees and votes, but there's still time to do something!

I want to support organizations that are on the ground at the Capital every day working on these issues, especially since I can't help much in-person this session. I've picked: Texas Civil Rights Project and Texas Rising, a Texas Freedom Network project. For my birthday, I am trying to raise $200 for each and will match up to $100 in donations to each.

I'll use this page to keep track of the funds. Please message me your receipts so I can include it in the totals. Twitter DMs, my contact form, text messages, carrier pigeon. However you can contact me! I am choosing to not do this with Facebook donations this year, which makes it a tad harder. I'll be raising funds through Sunday (4/18).

Donation totals:

Texas Rising: ($250/200)

Texas Civil Rights Project ($200/200)

Why these organizations?

For many progressive Texans, it can be really hard to explain our relationship to this state that we love so much and does so much harm. These two organizations give me hope. Here's why:

Texas Rising

Texas Rising holds a special place in my heart because in 2017 I was a part of an advocacy day with direct action at the Capital working to educate and fight the anti-trans bathroom bills. We also met with representatives to talk about bills that mattered to us. For me, it was evidence based sex education in schools. (I grew up somewhere where sex education was solely abstinence based.) I met fellow Texans who were all younger than me. I was this weird college grad in a crowd of current college students. The sign up said 30 and under, so why not? And all of them were so much more impressive than I was. Most importantly, Texas Rising is builds power with young people of color. A blue Texas heavily depends on these young activists from all corners of the state. I've seen the work first hand and been continually impressed by the young people (I'm still young, but you know, younger) showing up in Austin and D.C. promoting equality and social justice for all Texans in the statehouse. I want to support Texas Rising in bringing more young advocates of color to Austin during the session.

Texas Civil Rights Project

This session I've been very impressed by the work that the Texas Civil Rights Project is doing on the voter suppression bills. I've been a volunteer deputy registrar and also worked on get out the vote efforts through campaigns the last couple of years in Texas, and let me tell you: It is hard and complex register to vote (even for the people doing the registering), and it is hard and complex to vote by mail (if you even qualify). These bills are nothing but voter suppression. I can't testify in the middle of a week day in a pandemic right now, but they're been giving really good testimony on multiple of these bills, but this is just the start. There will likely be a lot of legal work ahead on these bills. I want to support Texas Civil Rights Project in fighting some of the worst voter suppression bills in decades because voting in Texas should not only be easy but not discriminate on the basis of language, race, income, or disability.

So, let's raise some funds!

P.S. This song with 25+ Austin musicians is my theme song for the day. The video is lovely:

Come walk with me,
in a shared destiny where we live and love,
in complete harmony.

Well you know the road is long, we got faith in this song;
We gonna shine the light,
keep the love shining bright through the fight.

We will rise.
Rise in this together, if you walk with me.
We will rise.