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Hope is a Muscle (with thanks to Maggie Smith)

As I’ve grappled with my own concerns and frustrations about the upcoming election cycle (and I know I’m

not alone in this), I am continually seeking inspiration to keep me motivated and working towards positive change for our community and our country.

So I went to one of my go-to books about grief—Maggie Smith’s Keep Moving. Because it is not just a book about dealing with grief (and I will argue after the past several years we are all grieving in one way or another), but more importantly it is about finding the hope and the inspiration to “Keep Moving.”

Maggie recently released Keep Moving: A Journal: Thrive Through Change and Create a Life You Love, a companion journal to “Keep Moving,” and a single sentence in the introduction has helped to galvanize my resolve for my GOTV efforts and inspired this post.

”Hope is a muscle.”

I believe Maggie is absolutely right. Hope is a muscle—and we need to exercise it to make it stronger. We need to practice and put hope into action every day. I also believe citizenship is a muscle. We need to practice and act on being good citizens—EVERY DAY, not just on election day.

Yes, we all need to vote. But I want to encourage you to go beyond voting and do something, any little thing, every day between now and Nov. 8, to make your own sense of hope stronger and encourage others to exercise their hope and citizenship muscles.

Here’s a short list of ideas to help you “Keep Moving” and exercising your hope and citizenship muscles:

  • Have in-person voter registration available at an event you are hosting between now and Oct. 11, Ohio’s deadline to register to vote. Side note: It’s legal for any Ohioan to help others register to voter as long as they haven’t been convicted of election fraud. In Columbus you can contact Raina Bradford-Jennings who can connect you with people to attend with materials, or provide you the resources that will enable people to register onsite.

  • Share the ArtsVote Ohio site on your social pages to help us encourage the creative sector to get out and vote.

  • Write a short blog about what you or your community (neighborhood, group of friends, business) are doing to support voting efforts. Send it to me and as long as it’s non-partisan (sorry no trumpeting candidates in these blogs—but I encourage you to use other spaces for that) and I’ll post it on ArtsVote Ohio.

  • Host a postcard party for friends/neighbors and personally write to others in our community and across the country and encourage them to vote. Never underestimate the power of a handwritten note!

  • Sign up to be a poll worker, make phone calls or send texts to support your candidates or causes. (I can’t provide links here but just google your favorite candidate or issue and I guarantee you’ll find a path to what they need for support.)

  • Got more non-partisan GOTV ideas? Share them with me at

Jami Goldstein is Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Events at the Greater Columbus Arts Council and she will be working her hope and citizenship muscles really hard for the next six weeks.

Maggie Smith is the Columbus-based author of the national bestsellers Goldenrod and Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change, as well as Good Bones, The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison, and Lamp of the Body. Smith’s poems and essays are widely published and anthologized, appearing in Best American Poetry, the New York Times, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, the Washington Post, the Guardian, The Nation, and elsewhere. In 2016 her poem “Good Bones” went viral internationally, and Public Radio International called it “the official poem of 2016.”

Thanks to Unsplash and photographer Ronak Valobobhai for the blog image.

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