The London Think Tank

The London Think Tank

Shocked by the results of the 2016 US presidential election, parents Kara Dressel, Niamh Mesch and Lesley Gallagher needed a way to voice their disappointment and positively move forward. Within weeks of Donald Trump’s victory, Dressel, Mesch and Gallager formed a political activism group now known as the London Think Tank.

The trio did not imagine that the London Think Tank would grow to include hundreds of people. Originally started with the intent of a few families coming together to discuss what had happened, it developed to include people from different backgrounds, ages and genders. “We’re trying to hold [President] Trump accountable to the Constitution, the law and the public,” Dressel said. “It’s basically a group of concerned citizens that want to take action.”

The “Think Tank,” as it’s more commonly referred to, has over 250 members and counting. The group meets monthly, allowing and encouraging expat teenagers and adults alike to communicate on the current political status of the United States and on how to take affirmative action. Members have also created an online platform to share articles and information through a Facebook group and frequent emails. The group’s monthly emails, which are their main form of online communication, include essential news updates, upcoming events like marches to attend, ways to get involved, articles to read and recaps of their meetings. “We were trying to create something that was a positive way to move forward, and we were trying to be very inclusive,” Dressel said.

Member Maia Vasaturo-Kolodner (’17) views the Think Tank as a likeminded smaller community, but also as a support group to “not only support each other if we’re feeling a little lost for hope but also to support each other’s ideas of how we can work on it and how we can advocate for things we want changed,” she said.

Accordingly, during the first meetings, the group discussed a few ways to enforce positive, direct action. Think Tank members believed that the Women’s March on London, following Trump’s inauguration on January 21, would be an optimistic and constructive way to voice their opinions, and organized a group of about 50 to attend. Vasaturo-Kolodner participated in the march along with others from the Think Tank, believing, “[The march] was just really moving and uplifting and gave me so much hope in a time where I didn’t feel a lot of it.”

Dressel agrees with Vasaturo-Kolodner claiming, “the Women’s March in January we did was great because we had a lot of good energy, different people, people from different genders and ages and it was really powerful.” While Dressel recognizes that people “get busy with their lives,” she hopes the enthusiasm from the march continues, and people continue to voice their opinions.

Recently the group has been focused on sending letters to senators, calling state officials to express their concerns with the U.S. government, organizing groups to attend demonstrations, such as the upcoming March for Science on April 22, as well as facilitating meetings for positive discussion. “We may be far from home, but we’re still paying attention, and we’re not giving up on a tolerant, progressive American dream,” Gallagher said.

Going forward, the Think Tank organizers are hoping to get more students attending meetings and participating in events. “We would love more young people to get involved, and [we] are hoping that a Think Tank student branch might start up at ASL,” Mesch said.  

If anything, the group organizers feel that the “silver lining” of Trump’s presidency is the involvement and desire for activism that is present in the local community. “I hope that people remember what it felt like after the election and they use that dissapointment to do something good… and [they take] something they’re not happy with and they work towards changing it,” Dressel said.
The next meeting will take place on May 7. If you would like to attend a London Think Tank meeting, attend the March for Science on April 22 and/or join the activist group please email [email protected]

Written by Online Editor Christina Leonard and Cultures Editor Alexandra Gers

Photo by Lead Features Editor Michaela Towfighi

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