An easy, actionable way to let President Trump know you're paying attention.

Put on your active citizen hat because the Department of Housing and Urban Development is seeking public comments on a proposed rule.

First, a little background.

In October 2016, HUD published a final rule, "Equal Access in Accordance with an Individual's Gender Identity in Community Planning and Development Programs."


It ensures people have equal access to HUD programs and shelters funded by HUD's Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD) regardless of their gender identity. It's actually an expansion of a 2012 rule that provided equal access to shelters and programs regardless of sexual orientation.

Sounds good so far, right?

‌A person walking by an East Harlem public housing complex. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images. ‌

The rule is great but only if people — especially those seeking emergency shelter or resources — know it exists.

As part of the rule, HUD is proposing owners and operators of CPD-funded buildings, housing units, and shelters post this rule in public places in their facilities (like bulletin boards and in the lobby) where people can see it. HUD would provide the content of the notice and the owners would just have to print it out and post it. HUD estimates the task will take six minutes.

‌Just print and post. That's what HUD is suggesting. Photo by Newburyport Public Library/Flickr.‌

Here's where all of us come in. HUD is seeking public comment on four things:

1. Whether the printout is necessary and useful.

2. Whether the six-minute estimate is accurate.

3. How to improve the quality, usefulness, or clarity of the document.

4. How to minimize the burden on people required to print out the document.

If you believe it's a good idea for HUD shelters and housing units to post this information, you can submit your comments electronically or by mail until Feb. 23, 2017.

Think giving feedback on something like this is trivial and unnecessary? Ask the genderqueer teen living on the streets who needs a place to crash and doesn't know if they're welcome at a local emergency shelter. Ask the transgender woman who was worried she'd be denied access to a home-buying program.

It may seem small, but to the individuals and families looking for resources and reassurance, it's significant.

‌Homeless grandmother Valencia Terrell arrives with her grandchild to stay temporarily at a friend's home in Atlantic City in 2015. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images. ‌

More comments and feedback on the issues and proposed policies let the administration know we are paying attention.

This is only the first week of the new administration, and President Trump and his team have set several potentially devastating plans into motion. There's the unsanctioned gag order at the USDA, the devastating executive action prohibiting U.S. aid groups from funding NGOs that advise on or provide abortions, revival of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines, not the mention the promise to begin moving on his border wall.

‌President Donald Trump signs one of five executive orders related to the oil pipeline industry. Photo by Shawn Thew-Pool/Getty Images. ‌

You may not have the time or emotional energy to respond to every issue or proposal and that's OK.

With so much going on, it's easy to get discouraged and zone out. We have to persist. When we stop speaking up, reading, or getting involved, the administration's decisions go ignored and unchecked. There's just too much at stake to risk that.

Pick your issue: write a comment, make a call, attend a town hall, send a letter. Let Congress and Trump know you won't be silenced, bullied, or ignored. They work for us, and it's time they get a reminder.

‌People listen at a town hall meeting on Latin American and immigration policy in Los Angeles. Photo by David McNew/Getty Images. ‌

Get ready. Your active citizen hat is going to be on for a while.

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Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

For now, she's encouraging people through a barrage of persistent, informative, and entertaining emails with one goal in mind: getting people to VOTE. The thing about emailing people and talking about politics, according to Hebert, is to catch their attention—which is how lice got involved.

"When my kids were in elementary school, I was class parent for a year, which meant I had to send the emails to the other parents. As I've learned over the years, a good intro will trick your audience into reading the rest of the email. In fact, another parent told me that my emails always stood out, especially the one that started: 'We need volunteers for the Valentine's Party...oh, and LICE.'"

Hebert isn't working with a specific organization. She is simply trying to motivate others to find ways to plug in to help get out the vote.

Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

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With the election quickly approaching, the importance of voting and sending in your ballot on time is essential. But there is another way you can vote everyday - by being intentional with each dollar you spend. Support companies and products that uphold your values and help create a more sustainable world. An easy move is swapping out everyday items that are often thrown away after one use or improperly disposed of.

Package Free Shop has created products to help fight climate change one cotton swab at a time! Founded by Lauren Singer, otherwise known as, "the girl with the jar" (she initially went viral for fitting 8 years of all of the waste she's created in one mason jar). Package Free is an ecosystem of brands on a mission to make the world less trashy.

Here are eight of our favorite everyday swaps:

1. Friendsheep Dryer Balls - Replace traditional dryer sheets with these dryer balls that are made without chemicals and conserve energy. Not only do these also reduce dry time by 20% but they're so cute and come in an assortment of patterns!

Package Free Shop

2. Last Swab - Replacement for single use plastic cotton swabs. Nearly 25.5 billion single use swabs are produced and discarded every year in the U.S., but not this one. It lasts up to 1,000 uses as it's able to be cleaned with soap and water. It also comes in a biodegradable, corn based case so you can use it on the go!

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