Wagon Circle blends political activism and service

ENCINITAS — The fear, inflammatory rhetoric and dysfunction associated with the election of U.S. President Donald Trump rocked Encinitas woman Lisa Nava to her core. 

First, she sought comfort with her friends, who were also shocked and dismayed by the election results and the specter of fear that came along with them, she said. 

“It was a powerful time,” said Nava, a longtime community activist and Encinitas Union School District staff member. “A group of friends met that Sunday, and we then met every Sunday for two months consecutively.”

Out of those meetings, Nava said, came a spirit of resilience and a call to action.

The Wagon Circle was born.

The organization, Nava’s brainchild, is a political action and community service organization that takes aim at fighting for the rights of immigrants, minorities, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and others whose rights they perceive as being threatened by the Trump administration’s actions and policies. 

“We are, in effect, circling the wagons to protect our most vulnerable populations,” Nava said. 

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 healthcare 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. 

Its website prominently displays the slogan, “Resistance starts with action.”

Nava, however, said the group is not an “anti-Trump” organization, but a nonpartisan “patriotic” organization that will fight for ideals and beliefs that are at the core of the American experience. 

“Whether it is President Trump, President Obama, President Bush, we are going to push forward and make sure that the ideals that America stands for are shown to our children and our families,” Nava said. 

Since its inception earlier in December 2016, the group has adopted a Syrian refugee family, coordinated supply drops to Haitian immigrants in Tijuana and day laborers in North County, held a youth summit to educate young people on current political topics and staged a march and rally in Encinitas. 

Its next action is scheduled for July 1, when the group will meet at Glen Park in Encinitas at 2:30 p.m. before conducting a march down Coast Highway 101 and a rally at the “Cardiff Kook.”

The message of the march will be the value of immigrants to the American story, said Blaze Newman, a Wagon Circle member. 

Newman said the march’s theme was selected weeks ago, but the timing could not be more relevant after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision this week to allow for some of the president’s travel ban to be implemented. 

“It certainly expands our level of concern about the whole situation,” Newman said. “We are extremely concerned, and want to draw attention to people about the implications of what is going on.”

Nava acknowledged that while the group is nonpartisan, it will be active politically in the upcoming 2018 elections, endorsing candidates and taking stances on various issues. 

Nava delved into local politics herself in December, when she applied for appointment to the Encinitas City Council to fill the vacancy left by Mayor Catherine Blakespear. Joe Mosca was ultimately selected to fill the post.

A Democrat, Nava said that the group likely will focus on the 49th Congressional District election, where Democrats are again expected to take aim at Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), who narrowly survived a 2016 challenge from Col. Doug Applegate. 

“We are going to be watching all elections, from school boards to the City Council, and especially our congressman,” Nava said. “He is a mouthpiece for his constituents in Washington, and we need someone to speak for us in a reasonable fashion.”

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