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Five questions for The Blue Club

High schooler Kash Jain (oldest son of my former coworker Navin "nuvs" Jain) recently founded the political action website The Blue Club. "Voice. Action. Progress" reads the site's tagline, and Kash, alongside this team of likeminded teens, has very specific, concrete, and actionable ways for young people to stay informed — and get involved.

1. When and how did you come up with the idea for The Blue Club?

Kash Jain: In January 2019, Daniel and I were managing a small team — mainly teenagers — to run the social media for a liberal organization. Jacob was part of our team. Things were going fairly well, but we all felt that the organization was moving too slowly. Little progress was being made. From this was born the idea of The Blue Club. At first, I only had three things: a name, two team members, and a vague idea for an organization that would spread progressivism and give the people of America a voice, a way to work with their politicians and hold them accountable. Over the next few months — aided by a graphic designer and two new team members (Kayla and Katelyn) — TBC grew into a full-fledged organization. We are all passionate and driven teenagers who weren't quite sure what our passion could be used for. Creating TBC proved to be the perfect way for us to fight for change.

Katelyn Buckley: The planning process was a long one, to say the least. As individuals, all of our team members were passionate about furthering progressive change in their high schools, local communities, and even interpersonal relationships. At a certain point, though, reposting liberal graphics on social media and confiding in one another about our discontent with the state of America wasn't enough. The Blue Club was born in the hopes of pushing our ideals on a broader, more formal scale. Since early 2019, we've nurtured this website and watched it manifest from blueprint to finished product before our eyes.

2. Your articles cover a wide range of subjects, from the Greek elections to global aquatic ecosystems and overfishing to "President Trump's Racist Twitter Scandal." How do you decide which topics to pursue and how do you do your research?

KB: While we do cover issues across a wide spectrum, I believe that this methodology is true to what our team values. There are countless domestic, international, environmental, etc., problems facing society today, and writing about as many of them as we can keeps us (and readers) interconnected on a global scale. We want to pair smaller, concentrated issues with burgeoning worldwide ones to demonstrate the common themes among humanity's problems.

Daniel Ferguson: Kat and Kash will give us a subject to write about every two weeks or so, but it's intentionally wide ranging, so we largely have creative freedom with what we write about. This is a great system because while we still have clear instructions, the writing team is able to talk about issues they care about, within the limits of the editors' instructions, of course. We also issue statements on important current issues, which are my responsibility as Director of Communications. We decide on a case-by-case basis whether or not to issue a statement. The recent Trump Twitter scandal was a no-brainer — we had to say something.

Kayla Turner: We have a very diverse group of writers with different backgrounds, strengths, and passions. This is why a variety of different topics are covered on The Blue Club — together our perspective is broader and more far-reaching for the multifaceted foundation of young people we hope to write for. Being able to provide commentary on a larger scope of issues allows us to cover a lot more of the left side of the political spectrum.

3. Your "Policy Proposals" page promises to "offer policies that will...help both the American people and humankind itself." How will you formulate these policies, and how will you communicate them to elected officials?

KJ: Our process for policy proposals is fairly straightforward. A policy is either proposed by a member of TBC or submitted by someone else. We then consider how feasible the policy is, whether it fits with our goals of progress and productivity, and then post the proposal. If there is a strong counterargument for a policy, we generally decide not to recommend it. Many of our articles can be linked to a policy proposal. There will, on occasion, be specific bills that are similar to our policy proposal (usually sitting in the Senate) — if this is the case, we push out some sort of script for the people to use to call their Senators. We intend to do this much more of this in the future.

4. Just maintaining a website alone is a huge project — how does your group allocate the tasks?

KB: To be honest, keeping a group of passionate, driven teenagers organized is no small task! We all have issues and ideals that we're motivated by, and the outlet we pour that soul into is TBC. For instance, my own "key issue" is environmental conservation (as shown by my primarily environment-related articles). That's something that constantly inspires me to research and learn. When allocating article assignments, Kash and I consider what each member is passionate about, since the most productive, well-written articles are authored by people who care about an issue on a deep level.

5. Your "Welcome" page concludes with: "Welcome to the next chapter of change." How do you suggest young people begin their activism?

KT: I began my activism through communication and outreach. I think the most important part of being an activist is being able to listen and effectively engage in civil discourse. Activism, in my opinion, starts with living in the truths you hold self-evident and seeking ways to see those truths embodied in our society. Starting small is the best way to go about it! Hold conversations with your peers, reach out to representatives, and never underestimate the power of local-level politics. Changing your own environment lays the foundation to change the world!

DF: It sounds cliche, but the honest answer is: Get involved. Find a cause you're passionate about, find a group or organization that agrees with you on that issue, and join it. Build out from there. If it's a group in your area, organize something like a rally or a fundraiser. If it's online, share and talk about it on social media. Eventually, if you have enough connections and enough time to undertake such a project, start your own organization that talks specifically about the issues you're passionate about, just like Kash has.

Jacob Hays: I suggest you contact your representatives. You can do this by texting resistbot. Your representatives are your gateway to Washington — if your representatives aren't politically in line with your beliefs, you can volunteer for an opposing campaign. Get involved in your community by running a voter registration drive or starting a politics club in your school. It doesn't have to be huge; small grassroots movements can sometimes bring about the biggest change.

KJ: The most crucial step that everyone can take is ensuring that they are aware. People who are aware of issues are already better enabled to do something about them. I always recommend trying to find reliable sources that can corroborate the facts surrounding an issue. News headlines are often designed to elicit a reaction and get clicks; reading into an issue allows an individual to be better informed. Once an individual is informed, I would recommend that they try to put pressure on their politicians by either getting in contact with their office, trying to meet them, or starting some sort of protest/march. Of course, some politicians are not very easy to get in contact with. Some politicians put the interests of their party or their personal benefit over that of their constituents and the nation. What can we do about these politicians? Call them out and — if they refuse to change — vote them out.

Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons University and a BA from Oberlin College.

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