Call Your Members of Congress · Community Activism · Read, Educate Yourself, Prepare · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends

Read This New Yorker Piece on What Calling Congress Achieves

Read What Calling Congress Achieves, a New Yorker piece that explores that question and gives a history of Americans calling their Congressional representatives.

 

It’s a long read, but a good one. The author not only explores what works and what doesn’t and why, and what a Congressional office would consider a “flood” of phone calls, she goes back to the late 19th-century beginnings of calling Congress.

 

The story is festooned with tasty little anecdotes and wonderful bits of evidence that calling and emailing Congress actually does something.

 

This paragraph, for example:

 

For political watchers, the most striking thing about this outpouring of political activism is its spontaneity. “If Planned Parenthood sends out an e-mail and asks all their donors to contact their Congress members—that’s honest, it’s real, it’s citizen action,” Fitch said. “But this thing was organic: people saw something in the news, it made them angry, and they called their member of Congress.” At this point, he paused and informed me that he was “not one for hyperbolic statements.” But what was happening was, he said, “amazing,” “unprecedented,” “a level of citizen engagement going on out there outside the Beltway that Congress has never experienced before.”

 

And this one:

 

Perhaps the most striking shift so far, though, has happened on the Democratic side of the aisle, in the form of a swift and dramatic stiffening of the spine. In the past month, at the insistence of constituents, the party line has changed from a cautious willingness to work with the White House to staunch and nearly unified opposition. “If you ask me, before the calls started coming in, someone like Neil Gorsuch”—Trump’s pick for the vacant Supreme Court seat—“would have passed with seventy-one votes,” said one Democratic senator’s chief of staff, who has worked on the Hill for close to twenty years. “Now I’d be surprised if he gets to sixty.” More generally, that staffer noted, the newly galvanized left is suddenly helping to set the Party’s agenda. In thinking about Cabinet nominations, Democratic members of Congress had planned to make their stand over Tom Price, then the nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services—until their constituents chose Betsy DeVos. “That was not a strategic decision made in Washington,” the staffer said. “That was a very personal decision made by all these people outside the Beltway worrying about their kids. We’re not managing this resistance. We can participate in it, but there’s no chance of us managing it.”

 

Oh, and this one:

 

Republicans, of course, can’t manage the resistance, either—and, so far, they are struggling to figure out how to respond. Some have merely expressed frustration that so many calls are apparently coming from out of their district or state. But others, including Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Cory Gardner, and President Trump, have tried to discredit concerned citizens by claiming that they are “paid protesters,” an allegation supported by precisely zero evidence. Still others have expressed disingenuous outrage over political organizing, as when Tim Murtaugh, a spokesperson for Representative Lou Barletta, of Pennsylvania, criticized “the significant percentage who are encouraged to call us by some group.” And other legislators simply turned out not to like their job description. “Since Obamacare and these issues have come up,” Representative Dave Brat, of Virginia, said last month, “the women are in my grill no matter where I go.” In an apparent effort to dodge such interactions, a number of Republican legislators, including Representative Mike Coffman, of Colorado, and Representative Peter Roskam, of Illinois, have cancelled or curtailed town-hall meetings. Other G.O.P. legislators have allegedly been locking their office doors, turning off their phones, and, in general, doing what they can to limit contact with their constituents.

 

…but enough quoting. Go enjoy it for yourself.

 

Read What Calling Congress Achieves:

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/03/06/what-calling-congress-achieves

 

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Subscribe to the New Yorker:

https://subscribe.newyorker.com/subscribe/newyorker/111547?source=AMS_NYR_ARTICLE_NAVBAR_MemorialDay_2017&pos_name=AMS_NYR_ARTICLE_NAVBAR

Community Activism · Ethics · Read, Educate Yourself, Prepare

Read There Is No Good Card For This: What to Say and Do When Life Is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love

Read There Is No Good Card for This: What to Say and Do When Life is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love, by Kelsey Crowe and Emily McDowell.

 

TINGCFT might seem like a not-quite-on-topic choice for a political blog, but bear with us. It’s a great textbook on how to have awkward conversations, how to listen, and how not to be a jerk–skills that are ever more precious and valuable in the time of Trump.

 

McDowell is the genius behind a series of greeting cards that you’d actually want to send to someone who’s going through hell but still has a sense of humor. Crowe holds a doctorate in social welfare, and founded Help Each Other Out, which teaches people how to avoid being the person who ghosts or says and does unhelpful things when bad stuff happens to friends and family.

 

The whole book is a gem, but in particular, it goes over how to help people in the grip of illness, fertility issues, divorce, unemployment, and grief.

 

Some general takeaways:

 

It’s better to do something than nothing. Saying ‘I’m sorry’ is doing something.

Remember it’s about them, not you. Don’t make their problem about you.

Listen.

Your kindness is your credential.

The person who needs help may not respond to your overture the way you’d expect. Don’t hold that against them, and don’t let their response deter you from helping others.

 

 

Buy There Is No Good Card for This at great independent book stores such as The Strand or Powell’s:

http://www.strandbooks.com/index.cfm

http://www.powells.com/book/there-is-no-good-card-for-this-9780062469991/1-5

 

 

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Action Alerts · Community Activism · Elections · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends

Learn to Evangelize (In a Good Way)

Learn, and practice, how to tell the story of the candidates you support, and become an evangelist for them.

 

One of the most important things you can do to push back against Trump is convince people to come out and vote against his democracy-destroying agenda. But if you really want to be effective, you want to immerse yourself in the merits and the story of a non-Trumpish candidate, fully master it, and be ready to make a powerful, personal, eloquent case for voting for them.

 

Now, a personal confession. Sarah Jane here. I’m the founder of the OTYCD blog and the lead wrangler of research and of its anonymous writers. This is my 2016 story.

 

So it’s late 2015 or so and the election is starting to gear up. I resign myself to voting for Clinton. I’m meh on her but I don’t think Bernie can do the job, the Republicans are all thoroughly horrible, and the third party options look miserable, too.

 

But at some point I see clips from that eleven-hour Congressional Benghazi hearing.

 

And I see Clinton own those Republican twerps like the boss she is. Own. Them. Completely and thoroughly. She cleans the floor with them till she can see her face in it, and she doesn’t even break a sweat. She slays. She dominates. She destroys. Through her actions and her attitude, she reveals the hearings for what they are–a formal, coordinated attempt to kneecap her 2016 presidential campaign–and she ain’t havin’ it. At all.

 

And I realized: She can do this, and she wants to do this. She is crazy-smart and ludicrously skilled, and she has a skin as thick as a rhino’s, and she actually wants to be president. She’s been through hell and back so many times, from so many different directions, she could write a guidebook on it for Lonely Planet. She has taken far more than her allotted ration of shit in this life. She has long since earned the right to walk in the woods and play with her grandkids. But she wants to do this. Damn. Whoa.

 

In that moment I became a Clinton convert. The scales fell from my eyes. I went from ‘meh’ to ‘yeah!’ I was *excited* to vote for her. Not as much as I was for Obama, but I was excited.

 

Now, here’s my sin: I didn’t tell anyone about my change of heart. At no point before the 2016 election did I speak up to anyone else and say why I was excited to vote for her.

 

I donated to her campaign. I voted for her in the primary. I stayed on top of the issues. I watched all three debates. I voted for her for president. But never did I ever sit with friends and family and spontaneously say why I was so jazzed to vote for Hillary Clinton.

 

I live in a state that went overwhelmingly for Clinton. I can tell myself that not speaking well of her once I started thinking well of her made no difference.

 

But c’mon. What if more of us had shown genuine enthusiasm for voting for her? What if more of us had evangelized for her?

 

What if our friends and family made note of that, and passed the word to others–that there are people out there, sane and fine people, who actually like Clinton and want to vote for her?

 

Don’t get me wrong–I realize she had a fine contingent of folks who did speak well of her, early and often, and I realize a goodly number of them read this blog. I’m wondering how things might be different if that contingent were bigger, and if folks who share my Clinton journey had stepped up and joined it.

 

The overriding perception was that those who cast votes for either major presidential candidate in 2016 did so while holding their noses.

 

Remember the ‘Giant Meteor 2016’ bumper stickers? Judging by the way the election was covered, no one would blame you for thinking it was a giant nationwide game of ‘Would You Rather?’

 

It wasn’t, or at least it wasn’t for me. I liked Clinton, and I still like her, and what she stands for. And I’ve gone from being irked to pissed to stabby about how the right wing noise machine has done its level best to smear her for 30 goddamn years.

 

It’s too late to do right by Hillary Clinton, the presidential candidate. But you can devote yourself to becoming a better evangelist for non-Trumpish candidates running in special elections and in 2018 who will restore and defend our democracy. (“Non-Trumpish” candidates include Republicans and conservatives who have spines, btw.)

 

You don’t have to formally join their campaigns to be effective. Heck, you might be more effective if you don’t. Just do your damnedest to learn about them, and what they stand for, and figure out what it is about them that you connect with most, and tell others why.

 

You have power. You have friends and family who listen to you and value what you have to say. Hearing people you trust speak happily, and authentically, about a candidate for office helps that candidate’s chances of winning that office.

 

Speaking up is scary. Some people will challenge you, talk over you, even yell at you and try to shout you down. But you need to speak up anyway. It’s too important. Do not succumb to silence. Do what you have to do to learn how to speak up, and get good at it, and start working on it now, in summer 2017, well before the primaries.

 

We need you. We need every voice. Our democracy depends on it.

 

Update: Since I wrote this I realized (headsmack) that many of those who stuck up for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign got shouted down, and they’re still getting shouted down months later. I can only point back to my own experience.

 

I know most of my crowd was pro-Clinton, but no one expressed spontaneous enthusiasm for her. I don’t think I would have felt any pushback if I had voiced my enthusiasm in real life (online is of course another matter) but I can’t know because I did not think to try.

 

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Action Alerts · Community Activism · Marches and Protests · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends

Attend the No One Is Above The Law Protest Near You Thursday November 8, 5 pm Your Time

Attend the No One Is Above the Law protest near you, taking place Thursday, November 8, at 5 pm your time (local time).

 

So, we at OTYCD wrote about the if-then protest in the past, when MoveOn.org and friends started planning it.

 

We also urged you to visit the site and write down the details for your local No One Is Above the Law protest site in case a triggering event sends people stampeding toward the site from all over the Internet and the web page goes down.

 

Welp. On Wednesday November 7, with the midterm results not even a day old (and some still trickling in), Trump compelled Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign and installed an Acting Attorney General, Matthew Whitaker, who had been Sessions’s chief of staff.

 

Read articles on the slo-mo modern spin on the Saturday Night Massacre here (and click these words if you need a refresher on the original Saturday Night Massacre):

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/attorney-general-jeff-sessions-resigns-at-trumps-request/2018/11/07/d1b7a214-e144-11e8-ab2c-b31dcd53ca6b_story.html?utm_term=.89b91e4aee90

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/with-the-midterms-over-mueller-faces-key-decisions-in-russia-investigation/2018/11/07/7ef2765a-e151-11e8-ab2c-b31dcd53ca6b_story.html?utm_term=.6490220bf6eb

 

 

You can question whether any of this is legal. You can question whether Trump can put Whitaker, who is not Senate-confirmed, into the Acting AG role. You can question whether Whitaker has to recuse himself, given that he is on record as opposing the Mueller investigation, and has made comments about muffling it by starving it of funds.

 

Rampant attack on our democracy? Yep. All that nonsensical fuckery was more than enough for the team behind the No One Is Above the Law if-then protest to pull the trigger on the event.

 

If you haven’t checked out the web page, please do so now, and find out where your nearest protest site is. Note the address down on paper. Google it and plot how you can get there and where you can park. As of November 7, 2018, the page reflected more than 900 events scheduled:

https://act.moveon.org/event/mueller-firing-rapid-response-events/search/

 

You’ll also notice that the organizers didn’t quite follow the standing plan. They chose to set it for 5 pm local time to give folks more time to prepare.

 

We’re now going to reproduce the bit from the page that appears after the logistics:

 

THEN WHAT?

Good question!

These events are only the first step. Our goal with these actions is to create an opportunity for anyone outraged by Trump’s abuse of power to engage immediately in voicing their concern. Together, we will communicate unmistakably that this is not okay and that this act to undermine democracy is not going to be allowed to become a new normal.

But that’s only the first step, and it’s far from the last one.

Congress is the only body with the constitutional power and responsibility to hold a president politically accountable for major violations of the public trust like this. And “we, the people” are their backstop and source of legitimate power.

And what people do next to force Congress to act is up to them!

Certainly, everyone at an event should also call their member of Congress to demand action. And everyone is encouraged to communicate that demand directly at congressional offices.

Beyond that, it’s up to you! It’s a good idea to discuss possible scenarios in advance with the hosts of your event or with your friends to develop other nonviolent ways you would like to compel actions from Congress.

Here’s what groups will be asking Congress to do:

 

CONGRESSIONAL ASKS

  1. Demand members of Congress protect the special counsel’s office, including preserving its files and staff and ensuring it receives the full cooperation of all federal government law enforcement assets.
  2. Demand the creation of a modern-day version of the Senate Select Watergate Committee to investigate all matters involved in the Russia scandals and Trump’s abuse of power and obstruction of justice.
  3. Demand bipartisan hearings in the House Judiciary Committee on obstruction of justice and abuse of power.
    • Some groups will call these the first steps to impeachment hearings; others will not.
    • Impeaching Donald Trump is not a demand shared by all partner organizations. Nor is supporting impeachment a prerequisite to attend these events. But it is a view welcome at events, and you can definitely bring a poster calling for it if that’s your view. We can all be for the three things above if some of us are also for additional things, such as impeachment.
…So this might be a one-off, and it might not be.
Another suggestion from us at OTYCD: After you look up and note your own protest
location, look it up for friends and family who might approach you for help, or those
who you want to approach, in the spirit of making it as easy as possible for them to join.
You might want to go as far as giving them easy-to-follow driving directions and parking
tips.
If you can, offer a car-pool ride to other interested protesters. If you cannot or do not
want to go, but can offer child-care services, that definitely helps, too.
If you can’t go and can’t help others go, follow and boost these hashtags:
#NoOneIsAboveTheLaw
#TrumpIsNotAboveTheLaw
#whitakermustrecuse
During the course of the day, watch the Twitter feed of Celeste Pewter (@Celeste_Pewter).
She is prepping call scripts as we draft this blog post, and she’ll be on top of relevant
breaking news.
Also watch the feeds of Ben Wikler (@BenWikler) and Anna Galland (@annagalland),
both of MoveOn. They will have news about the nationwide protests and other things
you’ll want to know.
Sorry it’s come to this, folks. Sorry it comes so soon after the conclusion of the multi-
month saga that was the lead-up to the 2018 midterms, which took so much out of so
many of us.
We thought we could rest. Hell, most of us planned on taking at least one goddamn
day off. Wednesday. Joke’s on us. (Fuck that guy. Seriously, fuck that guy.)
But we gotta muster. We gotta. We gotta show up in big honking numbers, just like
we did on Tuesday.
Democracy needs us again. It’s just that kind of week. (If you’re not already keeping a
journal, now’s the time to start. Your kids, grandkids, nieblings, and grandnieblings will
want to know what this time was like, and they will want to know what you did to push
back.)
Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the
page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

 

Action Alerts · Fighting Bigotry, Racism, Sexism, Homophobia, Transphobia... · Marches and Protests · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends · Vote with your Dollars

Help John Oliver Keep Up The Great Work By Subscribing to HBO

This OTYCD entry originally posted in June 2017.

 

Support the work of John Oliver and his team at Last Week Tonight by subscribing to Home Box Office (HBO) and telling HBO that you signed on specifically to get his show.

 

Comedian John Oliver, alumnus of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, has done powerful and impressive work before and since the election of Donald Trump. If we manage to save net neutrality, he and his #GoFCCYourself campaign will deserve a big slice of the credit.

 

While the 2016 presidential campaign was still live, Oliver called attention to the madness of the presidential primary process and asked us to reserve February 2, 2018, as the day to ask our legislators to fix it.

 

He’s aimed his guns at income inequality, payday loans, the rank injustices of the prison system, student debt, civil asset forfeiture, and dozens of other vital issues.

 

You’ve learned a lot from him, admit it. So forgive us for asking, but do you watch his segments for free online, or do you subscribe to HBO?

 

If you don’t, well, it’s past time for you to subscribe to HBO. And when you do, please go out of your way to tell HBO that you signed up specifically because it runs Last Week Tonight, and you want Oliver and his team to carry on with their good work.

 

Sign up for HBO, with or without cable:

http://www.hbo.com/order/get-hbo.html

 

Once you’ve done that, contact HBO and tell them you subscribed expressly to support John Oliver and Last Week Tonight:

http://www.hbo.com/about/contact-us.html

 

Follow Last Week Tonight on Twitter:

@LastWeekTonight

 

Like the show on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/LastWeekTonight

 

Follow John Oliver on Twitter:

@iamjohnoliver

 

Read about Last Week Tonight‘s #GoFCCYourself campaign and how effective it’s been:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/talkingtech/2017/05/09/john-oliver-may-have-helped-spur-150000-comments-fcc-net-neutrality/101480100/

http://deadline.com/2017/05/john-oliver-donald-trump-fcc-net-neutrality-ajit-pai-1202086601/

https://news.fastcompany.com/to-support-net-neutrality-john-oliver-just-helped-crash-the-fccs-website-again-4036955

http://theweek.com/speedreads/697291/john-oliver-sounds-warning-siren-net-neutrality-summoning-internet-horde-that-saved-before

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-net-neutrality-john-oliver-20170508-htmlstory.html

 

Read about how the efforts of John Oliver and Last Week Tonight have boosted other worthy anti-Trump and pro-democracy causes:

http://www.poynter.org/2016/propublica-is-seeing-a-surge-in-donations-after-john-olivers-trump-segment/439254/

http://lastnighton.com/2016/11/15/john-olivers-last-week-tonight-trump-segment-spurs-donation-increase/

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

 

Action Alerts · Call Your Members of Congress · Health Care · Read, Educate Yourself, Prepare

Defend DACA and ACA: September 11 Update

Today you have to defend the Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Yeah, really. 

We’re asking you to call and support bipartisan efforts to stabilize the ACA today because the odds are good that Senators Bill Cassidy and Lindsay Graham may introduce their amendment to the GOP health care bill.

If it passes, it would be a disaster for people who actually need health care. The odds are long–they’d have to get the bill through various hurdles before the September 30 deadline–but seeing as killing Obamacare has been a Captain Ahab versus the white whale situation with Republicans, we are asking you to call your reps today and stick up for stabilizing the ACA.

Below, we will give you a sample script that combines defending DACA and ACA.

Also, on ACA, we recommend you follow Topher Spiro, Ben Wikler, Andy Slavitt, and Celeste Pewter if you aren’t already. They will have news stupid-fast, along with specific actions you can take to fight back right there and then. Their Twitter handles are:

@TopherSpiro

@BenWikler

@Aslavitt

@Celeste_Pewter

 

Read about Senator Graham’s quest to repeal Obamacare somehow, anyhow:

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/article171778757.html

 

We still need to pursue DACA. These people need help, and the Congressional iron is still hot, per Ben Wikler (@benwikler). He tweeted on September 5 that passing a law that will affect the DACA folks for the better is doable:

Vote-counters think we have the votes in both houses of Congress to pass the DREAM Act *right now.* Question is if leadership holds the vote

McConnell and Ryan will only hold the vote if they feel massive political pressure. Your channel to pressure them: your own Sens/Reps.

 

We expect to, at minimum, alternate updated calls to action on DACA/ACA with scheduled posts for a little while. We’ll adjust as necessary.

Combo DACA/ACA script for your MoCs is below, but–before calling them, check their web sites, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds to see if they’ve said anything about DACA, bipartisan efforts to shore up ACA, or Cassidy-Graham. Thank them and berate them accordingly.

 

Sample script: “Hello, I am (Firstname Lastname, and I live in town, zip code). I wanted to tell (Senator/House Rep Lastname) that I support the DACA program and the Dreamers, and I want him/her to pass a law that formally protects them–preferably a law that would not expire. The Dreamers deserve the chance to stay here and become citizens officially.

I am also asking (Senator/House Rep Lastname) to support efforts to stabilize the Affordable Care Act and resist the Trump administration’s attempts to withhold Cost Sharing Reduction (CSR) payments. The CSRs are key to making health care markets function. Dithering on them causes needless chaos.

I would also ask (Senator Lastname) to refuse to support the Cassidy-Graham amendment, which could be introduced today. It would gut Medicaid and CSRs and leave millions without care. Thank you for listening.”

 

Read about the likely effects of Cassidy-Graham:

https://www.cbpp.org/research/health/cassidy-graham-amendment-would-cut-hundreds-of-billions-from-coverage-programs-cause

 

And here is the previous roll call of #DefendDACA resources.

 

Here’s Indivisible’s #DefendDACA action kit:

http://standup.indivisibleguide.com

 

To stay on top of DACA-related issues and the #DefendDACA effort, check the web page of United We Dream, the leading organization that protects and defends the Dreamers:

http://weareuwd.org

 

Follow United We Dream on Twitter:

@UNITEDWEDREAM

 

And follow Adrian I. Reyna, director of membership and technology strategies for United We Dream, who has been giving practical advice to DACA-folk and their friends and family:

@isaiasreyna

 

If you want to donate money to directly help those participating in DACA, there are any number of fundraisers for currently enrolled DACA-folk who need help paying their renewal fees before the October 5 deadline.

Follow Muna Mire on Twitter, who is all over compiling and tracking online fundraisers for people who need help with DACA fees:

@Muna_Mire

 

Here’s United We Dream’s FAQ on the end of DACA and what it might mean:

http://weareheretostay.org/resources/frequently-asked-questions-on-daca-termination/

 

Here’s a good no-nonsense rundown from Teen Vogue on DACA and the consequences of removing it:

http://www.teenvogue.com/story/daca-how-to-help?mbid=social_twitter

Action Alerts · Protect the Environment

Tell Trump What You Think of His Plans For 27 National Monuments

Tell Trump to continue to preserve 27 national monuments that he has in his sights. 

The Trump administration recently asked Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior, to review the status of 27 national monuments–22 land-based ones in 11 states, and five marine ones. (Never mind that the monuments would have gone through review and public comment leading up to their designation…)

Given the way that Trump has behaved to date, you can bet that he and his minions aren’t interested in caring for these monuments as past administrations have pledged to do. It’s likely that Trump and friends are looking for ways to allow extraction of natural gas, coal, and the like on lands and waters held in public trust.

It’s on you to speak up and defend them.

The deadline to make comments in favor of the relatively newly-designated Bears Ears Monument in Utah is May 26. The deadline for submitting comments for the other 26 is July 10.

 

Modern Hiker has a good web page on how to comment, what to say, and which of the 27 seem to be at greater risk:

https://modernhiker.com/how-to-comment-on-trumps-national-monument-review?utm_content=buffere591e&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

 

In particular, pay attention to what they write under the heading, “What Should I Write About In My Comments?” (Scroll down for this).

 

If you know what you want to say, here’s where to send your message (this is from the Modern Hiker page):

You can mail them to

Monument Review

MS-1530

U.S. Department of the Interior

1849 C Street NW

Washington, D.C. 20240

Online comments may be submitted via regulations.gov by searching for “DOI-2017-0002” or by using this direct link.

Note that all comments – including any personal identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time.

 

Also, visit Modern Hiker‘s web site:

https://modernhiker.com

 

Like its Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/modernhiker

 

And follow it on Twitter:

@modernhiker