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Wagon Circle celebrates first year, looks ahead to 2018

ENCINITAS — It has been a year since Lisa Nava and a group of her friends met the Sunday after the 2016 presidential election to comfort each other, and resolved to “circle the wagons” around the groups they perceived as being threatened by President Donald Trump’s impending administration.

Since that Sunday in November, the Wagon Circle has become a force in Encinitas, staging protests and actions against hate and bigotry, adopting a Syrian refugee family and hosting a pair of youth summits.

The organization has taken aim at some of the most divisive Trump policies, including the proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, the proposed health care overhaul that would de-fund Planned Parenthood and the proposed travel ban that would bar foreign nationals from several Middle Eastern countries entry into the United States.

On Sunday, Nov. 12, the organization celebrated its first anniversary and plotted out the next steps for the organization over the next 200 days before the June 5 primary elections.

Nava, Wagon Circle’s founder, said the inspiration of the group’s 200-day plan came from October’s three-day Women’s Convention in Detroit, which three of the group’s members attended.

The trio, Nava said, learned how to prepare women to mobilize in their communities and run for local and state offices.

“We learned a lot about the political process,” Nava said. “The next 200 days, we are going to be really focusing on equipping young women and young leaders to be engaged in the process from now until the primary and beyond.”

While Nava said the organization might not be endorsing candidates during the primary phase, they are encouraging their members to get involved in campaigns, whether it mean donating, working on a campaign or lobbying efforts at school board and council meetings.

They also will be continuing to focus their efforts toward U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) and getting him to support reform that protects immigrants protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The group will also likely support a Democratic candidate to run against Issa following the primary election.

Finally, Nava said, the group will be working with another group, Neighbors in Action, to engage in a nonpartisan door-to-door campaign to encourage residents to get involved with the political process and vote.

“We are learning about people in the community and motivating them to really have a voice, and letting them know that our voice really matters now more than ever in this unique time in our history,” Nava said.

Nava also said that the convention has inspired her to likely run for office in the near future. She didn’t say what office, but said it could be a school district race.

While she said she didn’t want to necessarily thank Trump, she said that his presidency has galvanized a number of progressive efforts across the country.

The Wagon Circle will be involved in one of the biggest upcoming efforts, the one-year anniversary of the 2017 Women’s March, which is on Jan. 20.

“He (Trump) is the result of something that has been happening in our country for a long time, and now, we are just more engaged than ever,” she said. “The message that you’ll hear on Jan. 20 is ‘watch our (women’s) vote, watch how we are going to vote.’”