Notes from a Power-ful Trip to Virginia

Power is a big theme that I ran into again and again during my interviews in Virginia. I heard a lot about forms of Power that are hurting people—abuses by the police in Richmond and Charlottesville, Koch Brother money in higher education, utilities that build pipelines in poorer neighborhoods. But I also saw the power of people working together to make Virginia and our world better; using the power of their collective voice and action to overcome harmful and dangerous policies.


Season 2 of The Pledge Podcast will focus on the promise of people working together across ages, race, and even party to use their collective power on specific issues in Virginia. Once again I am primarily bringing you stories of inspiring women. Women pledging to protect their democracy by working on issues they are passionate about. You can look forward to learning how:

  • Virginia could be the last state needed to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment for the U.S. Constitution and, thanks to groups like VA Ratify ERA, the time could be now. The VA General Assembly needs just one more “yes” vote to make it happen, so the November 2019 Elections are HUGELY important.

  • Virginia could be the first state to truly transform Juvenile Justice, thanks to

  • Virginia climate activists can be a model for all of us in collaborating across the political divide to combat global warming.

  • Virginia’s George Mason University has been forced to respond to faculty and student activists standing up to dark private money’s efforts to take over our public higher education institutions.





I am so excited to announce that we are a nominee for a People’s Choice Podcast Award. Thank you to everyone who voted for The Pledge. The winner will be announced Sunday September 29th. Fingers crossed!

The Pledge Podcast also received an honorable mention for the Civvy’s Awards, which honor organizations working to “serve their nation and their neighbors through collaborative, creative efforts that inspire, unite and facilitate civic participation.” Go team!

Have you donated yet? THANK YOU!

Thank you so much to those who have donated to support Season Two, and I hope you are enjoying your stylish Pledge Podcast pins! You made my trip to Virginia possible. If you haven’t had a chance yet, please consider sending a donation of any size to help support this project. If all of our listeners donate even a small amount, we will reach my goal. Please go to

How You can Help The Pledge

Dear Pledge Friends and Listeners:

Happy Almost Independence Day! I launched The Pledge Podcast on Presidents Day, about five months ago, and now, on the 4th of July, I already have a core group of hundreds of regular listeners, thousands of downloads, and inspiring feedback. Thanks to all of you for being a part of this amazing adventure!

But here’s the thing. As we move into Season Two, we need to find funding to support our small production team, travel and equipment budgets, and promotion to help build the listener community. 

If you would be willing to help support Season Two of The Pledge, please consider contributing through my Fundly Page. Any amount is greatly appreciated, and all donors will be sent a Pledge Podcast button as a thank-you gift. Donors of $200 or more will also receive a stylish Pledge Podcast t-shirt, and all donors of $2500 or more will be interviewed for a special episode of The Pledge. And to the amazing people who have already donated, thank you!

I am trying to raise $25,000 to cover expenses for the next season, which feels like a modest budget for my incredible team but also a daunting fundraising goal - so I need your help!

What can you expect in Season Two? In this crucial election year, we will be featuring stories celebrating resilience and courage. Resilience is the strength to keep fighting, even when the odds are long, and to take defeat in stride on the long road to victory. Courage is the incredible spirit it takes to stand up to large, well-funded, and often scary forces, and fight for your rights as a citizen. We will be featuring some veteran activists who can share their perspective on the long view of history, along with young activists just finding their voices standing up to the NRA and the Koch takeover of college campuses and state and local politics. We have great leads for inspiring stories that you will want to hear as the antidote to the cynicism and nastiness of national politics - but we need your help to make it a reality.

To date, I have self-funded this project, which has been a true labor of love but not a sustainable business model! I am still pursuing foundation funding and possible partnerships with activist organizations, which would allow The Pledge to grow into a true network of activists around shared stories and mutual inspiration. The more you, as listeners, show your dedication and support, the more attractive the project will be for potential outside funding sources and partners.

So please visit my Fundly Page and help me make Season Two of The Pledge a reality. If all of our listeners donate what they can it will make a huge difference. 

Thank you for your continued support!



Allison with Ezra and Julia just before launch!

What Change Really Means

Hi Pledge Listeners!

I’m excited and a little nervous to announce the release of my latest episode featuring… me. As I started this podcast and my own activist journey around the midterm elections, I decided to track my own experiences as a way of honestly sharing and demystifying what it’s like to start to organize—the highs, the lows, the questioning and ultimate rewards around getting engaged. Although I never would have expected it even a few months earlier, I became the Southeast Regional Coordinator for Swing Left. I dedicated my energy and rallied my friends around the congressional campaign of Tabitha Isner of Alabama. Listen to the episode and join me through some self-discovery, hard work, frustration and inspiration.

This is the first of three episodes of what I’m calling a bonus mini-season of The Pledge. In two weeks I’ll be posting a guest interview from the podcast Democracy Works with civil rights legend Joyce Ladner. I think you will appreciate what she has to say!

Thanks as always for listening and for spreading the word. This is about all of us taking the steps we have to take to strengthen our democracy.

With gratitude,


Episode 7 Image (4).png

Change is certainly never going to happen if we don't believe it's possible...we have to go down and be part of this movement.

Audio Diary, October 2018

Allison, Melanie and Shana canvassing with Swing Left

"I'm angry, I'm not scared" - The Pledge Podcast #6

Dear Pledge Listeners,

I'm sending this last newsletter from Birmingham, where I had the honor of moderating a panel for Emerge Alabama featuring several of the amazing women featured on The Pledgethe perfect way to end this first season. More on that later! Today I’m so excited to share with you Mary Wilson's story: "I'm angry. I'm not scared." 

Mary Wilson spent most of her life keeping her thoughts under wraps, only taking them out on the piano keys. This was what she knew was necessary to protect her husband's career and their family's livelihood. But after her husband was unjustly laid off, she realized it was time to speak her mind and get politically involved. A self-defined "feisty old broad", Mary is not afraid to proudly confront people who want her to keep her political views to herself. 

I loved meeting Mary. Her resolve, her candor, and her humor show the beauty and power of being authentically yourself. Enjoy!


“I'm a feisty old broad. Don't mess with me.”

Mary S. Wilson

Mary Wilson’s story is the final regular episode to Season 1 of The Pledge but stay tuned! I'm working on a bonus episode and will be in touch about plans for Season 2.

Until then, stay strong and stick with your pledge!


Meet Nancy Deabler in Episode 5: “Rally up!”

Dear Pledge Listeners,

I am so excited to share with you Nancy Deabler’s story. She was the woman who most surprised me.

A traditional White, Southern woman, Nancy breaks every stereotype. She demonstrates what it means to link her liberal politics to her Christian values, and to have these values inform every part of her life. Nancy reminds us that we have to act now — our democracy, and Alabama's children, can’t wait.

Thank you so much for being part of the Pledge Podcast community. I am thrilled to have had over 1500 downloads so far, along with numerous social media posts, endorsements, and positive reviews. It’s a lot of listening, but we need many times that number to help secure funding for a second season of The Pledge. Please help us get the stories of these inspiring activists to more people, and give our democracy a much-needed shot in the arm.

Keep listening and sharing, and tell your friends to subscribe, listen, and be inspired to take action now! Together, we will strengthen our democracy.

Allison Daskal Hausman, Producer and Host

Nancy Social Logo (1).png

“This is real. This is not a reality show that you can turn the volume down, or turn the TV off, and it'll go away. He's there and our future is very much at stake.”

—Nancy Deabler

Share, share, share

Please remind your friends to sign up for this newsletter at

Keep up the endorsements, likes, tweets, and other social media postings. If you have other ideas for spreading the word please get in touch!

Listen to The Pledge Episode #4 —How Do You Break That Mentality?

Episode Four of The Pledge introduces Ashley Smith. Ashley ran to become a District Judge in rural Lowndes County, Alabama, where the court system reflects the same all-white power structure it has since before the civil rights movement. Inspired by her grandfather and dedicated to providing justice for everyone regardless of race, Ashley drove hundreds of miles and shook thousands of hands to get her message out.

Listen to The Pledge as Ashley tells her story of the ongoing struggle for equal rights and justice in the footsteps of the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery march for voting rights.

Ashley Social Media (1).png

“If you come together as a collective then you have more power than the people that are in power, because they're only in power because of you.”

- Ashley Smith

If you can think of other people you haven’t told about The Pledge, please forward them this email. Ask them to listen to the 20-minute episodes for a quick reminder of what keeps our democracy is alive. They can also sign up for this newsletter at

Keep up the endorsements, likes, tweets, and other social media postings. If you have other ideas for spreading the word please get in touch!


Allison Daskal Hausman, Producer and Host

Episode Three of The Pledge is now available!

Episode Three of The Pledge introduces Oni Williams. Oni lives in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Birmingham where she regularly visits barbershops and strip clubs to speak with members of the community to inform them of their rights and encourage them to speak out. Oni explains that everyone has a voice, and everyone has a right to hold their leaders accountable.

Listen to The Pledge as Oni tells the her story of how she came to believe in her own responsibility to speak out and take action.

Oni Color.png

“Society has told them they don't have a right to hold these people accountable. But they do.”

—Oni Williams

A Plea to our Listeners:

I appreciate all of the feedback and encouragement from so many of you who have felt inspired and motivated by the stories in The Pledge. I still need your help to spread the word to new listeners and grow our community of activists. We don’t have the resources to advertise, so we need you telling people—email, social media postings, and the endorsements of listeners.

Would you please forward this email to three of your friends (or more!) who would be interested in learning about women fighting for change in Alabama? Ask them to listen to the 20-minute episodes for a quick reminder of what keeps our democracy is alive, despite the barrage of discouraging headlines. They can also sign up for this newsletter at

Keep up the endorsements, likes, tweets, and other social media postings. If you have other ideas for spreading the word please get in touch!


Allison Daskal Hausman, Producer and Host

Episode Two of The Pledge is now available!

Episode Two introduces us to Stacie Propst, the Director of Emerge Alabama, who is training and supporting a generation of first-time woman candidates in Alabama. Growing up, Stacie fit in well with her predominately anti-feminist, republican peers, but she sensed something was wrong with how outsiders were treated and how women were expected to behave. Now, Stacie is certain that the future of Alabama, and the country, depends on more women gaining political power and breaking up the status quo. Listen to The Pledge as Stacie shares the story of her own political evolution, and what keeps her working every day to strengthen democracy in Alabama.

Stacie Head Shot.png

“I do know that right now to save our democracy you better put some people in office who care about that democracy. And that is these women that I'm talking to every day.

- Stacie Probst

Subscribe to The Pledge now on Apple Podcasts, Google Play or Stitcher to get this episode and all future episodes as soon as they are available. And please help us spread the word to new listeners everywhere!

With hope for our power together,

Allison Daskal Hausman, Producer and Host

The Pledge Podcast is LIVE!

Listen, rate and review now on Apple Podcasts, Google Play or Stitcher!

Episode One tells the story of Elizabeth, who found her political voice in the Alabama special election for Senate and just keeps fighting for change. Listen to The Pledge as we explore what motivates this inspiring and tireless activist, and follow her evolution as a political force in her state.

Elizabeth Thumbnail.jpeg

“Yes I get frustrated when I watch the news. But I have an avenue to turn that into something positive because I'm involved because I stay engaged.”

-Elizabeth Rappaport Shannon

The Pledge Podcast explores political activism through short audio portraits. We call it The Pledge because it celebrates activism as a commitment to the hard work of democracy. Making this pledge means taking risks, speaking out, working hard and fighting day after day. It’s not easy, and success is often slow and never guaranteed. But making a commitment—a pledge—can motivate us to stay engaged for the long haul, which is the only way to truly make change.

Podcast Launch in February!

After criss-crossing the state of Alabama three times, meeting many amazing activist women, and learning the craft of podcasting from scratch, I could not be more excited to announce:

The Pledge Podcast will launch on Presidents Day, February 18th!

As loyal pre-listeners, you know how much your support means to me. Now get ready to do three things:

  • Subscribe to The Pledge podcast on Apple podcasts, Google Play, or Stitcher, and listen to episode 1 on February 18th.

  • Tell 5 people about the podcast (Send them my website or suggest that they subscribe) Do you know of activists or influencers who might be able to spread the word? Please email me.

  • Come to the launch party on Feb. 25th! From 6-7:30pm at the Podcast Garage, 267 Western Ave. Brighton, we will listen to some audio, do a Q&A, and meet women activists. Invitation to follow.

In this first season you’ll meet six remarkable women who take democracy into their own hands. We will explore their motivations and share the exhilaration and frustrations of trying to break through the entrenched establishment in this deep red state. Despite the obvious challenges and inevitable setbacks they face, these activists refuse to give up. Their efforts taught me so much and make me feel inspired, and even optimistic, about our democracy. I hope that when you listen to The Pledge, you will feel it too. Thank you your help to get the word out there. Until then, stay strong and keep YOUR pledge.

Patriotically yours,