Meet a Progressive: Activism You Can Dance to with Bonnie Chang
Inform, Engage, and Mobilize!
Bonnie Chang immigrated to the United States to attend college and has lived in Bucks County for more than 35 years. She has an MBA from Wharton Business School and worked for a corporation for 17 years. She started her activism more than 10 years ago, sensitized by her lens of an immigrant as to how precious true democracy is. She’s a founder of Bucks Voices, a voter engagement group based in Bucks County, PA, that “informs, engages and mobilizes” our community to realize the ideals of our democracy. She is also involved with other organizations with a focus on investing in and building infrastructure to strengthen and improve our government at all levels.
What inspired you to start working for progressive social change?
Being an immigrant made me very sensitive to the importance of liberty for all, equality, and trust in our institutions in a functioning democracy, and that they shouldn’t be taken for granted and need to be vigilantly protected. I started to see these fundamental pillars of democracy being chipped away especially during the start of the Iraqi War and the repeated dissemination of “alternative reality” — this is when I decided that I need to get involved.
What do you identify as the top issue progressives must confront a) locally, b) statewide in PA, c) across the nation, and d) around the globe?
Voter Suppression: At all levels and globally. Elect people who truly represent the people. Nationally, from the Supreme Court down (starting with corporations are people), the rich and the powerful can pay to get their messages out and disproportionately influence policy making compared to regular voters. One party (primarily the leadership at the state level) currently is so dysfunctional and extreme that render the “so-called moderate” elected representatives from Bucks County totally ineffective. Furthermore, there is a loyalty to individual and party over country.
Apathy/Fatigue: Politics doesn’t stop and it affects everyone.Politicians at all levels make decisions that impact everyone, whether you are aware or not, and when you realize it negatively affects you, it’s too late. People need to be educated on why it is important to support candidates who share your values, not only at the federal level, but more importantly to vote for them at the local and state level.
What types of organizing and projects are you working on right now?
I am working with Bucks Voices, a voter engagement group in Bucks County working to “inform, engage and mobilize” our community. We have held candidate forums, information sessions on issues such as Budget – How It Reflects Our Values and Healthcare and How to Support Immigrant Rights. We are currently working on countering voter suppression by advocating for mail in ballots and held a petition drive to convince our County Board of Elections to increase the number of drop box locations to make voting more accessible and reliable. We are exploring more ways to creatively get our messages out by using artistic advocacy to reach voters who may have reached “information overload” after 2020. We had a very successful “Dancing Drop-Box Petition Delivery” parade on June 2 to our Bucks County Commissioners to win their support for adding more drop boxes in Bucks. We plan to bring these drop boxes countywide to increase voter awareness and sign ups for mail-in ballot to vote in the off-year elections!
I’m also working with a few other groups to raise money to help build infrastructure to support voting, recruit and support good candidates by providing needed resources and hold our elected officials accountable.
How can folks get engaged and involved?
Join community organizations such as Bucks Voices, write Letters to the Editor (email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org ), give input and feedback (individually or organize a group) to your elected officials, be well informed, and read from multiple sources; if available contribute money and your time; and even more importantly, don’t shy away from talking to your neighbors, friends, and fellow parents, not in a confrontational way, but by discussing your common values, what we all want, things such as a just society, a safe environment for all, good educational system for our kids. ...
Which journalists, writers, podcasts, and publications do you turn to for information and inspiration?
I read the Washington Post, The New York Times, The Atlantic, New Yorker, AXIOS, and Bloomberg News (I find it very informative in highlighting the increasing global inter-connectivity, no matter where we are). It’s also very important to support local news media by subscribing to them (local journalism is suffering). They serve a very valuable role in covering what’s happening in our backyard (The Intelligencer, the Bucks County Herald, Spotlight PA, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and also a few from the other parts of the state, Morning Call, PennLive, etc.).
Meet Some Other Progressives
Thanks for reading! I look forward to your feedback and suggestions. And most importantly, keep organizing!