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Home » A Crash Course In Making Political Change: Katie Fahey (Transcript)

A Crash Course In Making Political Change: Katie Fahey (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of activist Katie Fahey’s talk titled “A Crash Course In Making Political Change” at TED 2023 conference.

Listen to the audio version here:


Feeling Disillusioned with the World

When the Flint water crisis happened in Michigan, I was already feeling pretty disillusioned with the state of the world. I was 27, I had an hour-long commute to work. I worked in the recycling industry, which I liked, but I spent most of my day crawling around in garbage cans. And I would listen to the radio on my hour-long commute and hear about how there were all these bills that the people of Michigan wanted to see passed, yet our legislature wasn’t doing anything about it.

And I found out that the reason they weren’t was because of a thing called gerrymandering, which basically meant that when voting districts were being drawn, our politicians would pick and choose which voters they wanted voting for them to all but guarantee that they were going to win the election, or that their political party was going to win an election. I kept thinking like: “How is this the world we live in? Kids don’t have clean water, politicians aren’t doing anything and aren’t afraid of our vote. Like, doesn’t anybody care?”

Taking Action on Facebook

“And why doesn’t somebody do something about this?” And I didn’t realize that soon, by accident, I would figure out that actually a lot of people do care. That next morning, before going to work, just kind of out of frustration, I made a post on Facebook, and it said: “Hey, I want to take on gerrymandering in Michigan. If you want to help, let me know :)” And — the emoji was very key.

I didn’t think that this would actually do much of anything. I thought maybe I’d find a couple other friends who thought this was a big deal. Maybe we’d volunteer somewhere. I certainly didn’t think that it would lead to a political movement of over 10,000 people, that it would lead to amending our state constitution or actually restoring faith in democracy in our state in general. But when I went to work and then at lunchtime, checked social media, I started to see that people were responding.

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