Leader pulls ‘Tractivists’ out of apathy and into world of helping others

Tractivists Peter, Melissa and Jason (back) learn how to add insulation in the crawl space of Jennings and Jonathan's house during Traction's energy-efficiency workshop in January. (Photo by Bill Willcox of the Herald-Sun)

By BriAnne Dopart : The Herald-Sun
Feb 14, 2006 : 9:58 pm ET

DURHAM — Lanya Shapiro wants to lure Generation Xers and Generation Yers into social awareness.

“They don’t know how they can make a difference so they’re helpless … hopeless,” said the community activist. “They think they’re too busy or it’s boring. I’m all about taking those reasons away from them.”

But Shapiro doesn’t want to guilt trip young people out of their apathy.

She said she wants to incite them, provoke them and invite them to film festivals and dance parties. She wants to make them comfortable, get them thinking. And then, just when they’re having fun, she wants to change the way they think about getting involved.

Read the rest of the story here.

Voting takes a spirited tone
Volunteers put on a party in Durham
Sunday Nov 5, 2006
DURHAM – As early voting drew to a close Saturday afternoon, Durham’s elections chief, an unabashed booster for democracy, was even more exuberant than normal.
“Democracy is having a pretty good morning,” said Mike Ashe, director of Durham’s Board of Elections. “Hot dogs, music, voting and democracy. It doesn’t get much better than this.”
All over the state, Saturday was the last day people could vote early in person. At Durham’s Board of Elections, a modest building on West Corporation Street just west of downtown, a line 100 people long waited to vote. The scene was more like a tailgate party where candidates shook hands and a nonpartisan group of volunteers served food, coffee and music.
Just after 1 p.m., the last voter in line cast the 650th ballot of the day and the 4,775th since Durham County began early voting Oct. 19. [....]
Hot dogs, veggie burgers, chili and coffee were available at no charge thanks to Traction, a Durham nonprofit that works to get young people involved in the community. Traction also arranged for the Water Callers, a duo who played acoustic folk, country and roots music for the crowd.”We think politics shouldn’t be boring, it should be fun,” said Lanya Shapiro, 36, the group’s founder and director.

Read the entire story here.

Groups oppose higher wage
Employers predict a loss of jobs

: The News & Observer
May 25, 2006 12:30 AM

Business owners are joining forces to block an increase in the minimum wage, saying it would cost jobs and hurt the state’s economy. [....]
People who support the increase say it is needed to help workers deal with the rising costs in basic necessities such as food, health insurance and fuel.
“We definitely need the increase,” said Joseph Costa, a sheriff’s deputy assigned to Jordan High School in Durham and a member of Traction, a left-leaning social network of 20- and 30-somethings.
Nice work, officer! Click to read the whole article, including more quotes from Joe.
News & Observer : Work & Money

Published: May 21, 2006 12:30 AM
Week ahead
Highlights for May 22 to 27

* Traction, a nonprofit group, will sponsor a discussion on economic issues facing young adults. The featured speakers will be Patrick Lyons, author of “Map Your Financial Future: Starting the Right Path in Your Teens and Twenties,” and Tamara Draut, author of “Strapped: Why America’s 20- and 30-Somethings Can’t Get Ahead.” The event will be 7:30 p.m. at Joe & Jo’s, 427 W. Main St., Durham. For information: scott*at*getTraction*dot*org.

See it in context here.


News & Observer : Calendar

Published: May 19, 2006 12:30 AM

Teaching young adults to handle their money

Tamara Draut Patrick Lyons

It’s no secret that it’s often hard for young adults to get ahead financially. Challenges include avoiding credit card traps, coping with rising health insurance premiums, navigating retirement plans and more.

The nonprofit group Traction ( will sponsor a discussion on economic issues facing young adults next week in Durham.

The featured speakers will be Patrick Lyons, author of “Map Your Financial Future: Starting the Right Path in Your Teens and Twenties,” and Tamara Draut, author of “Strapped: Why America’s 20 and 30 Somethings Can’t Get Ahead.”

The free event will be held 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, at Joe & Jo’s, 427 W. Main St., downtown Durham. For information, e-mail: scott*at*getTraction*dot*org.

See it in context here.


Gifts that do good
A mini guide to locally produced gifts with heart

Lefty festy
A good place to find the unusual gift is at a fundraising auction. Lots of nonprofits have them. A new nonprofit we like, because the cause is teaching progressive political activism, is TRACTION–short for Triangle Action–which is holding its inaugural holiday gift fundraiser-auction.

The theme of the event, swiped from a famous Seinfeld episode, is “FESTIVUS FOR THE LEFT OF US.” So look for a few good “Festivus” traditions, like the annual “Airing of Grievances,” Traction founder Lanya Shapiro says.

Among the donated gifts so far: Rock-climbing lessons, handyperson help, a two-hour massage/acupressure session, and a week in a western North Carolina mountain house.

Traction ( mixes good times with politics for the 20- and 30-something crowd. But olders and elders are most welcome at this event too, Shapiro says. Especially if they come to buy!

Think globally and shop locally on Saturday, Dec. 10 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the Broad Street Cafe, 1116 Broad St., Durham, 416-9707.

–Bob Geary


Dozens from area join protest in DC

The Herald-Sun : 25 Sept 2005


Three Durham-based groups organized the trip. Lanya Shapiro, founder of a newly formed activism group called Traction, said she wanted to show that North Carolina had a large number of people opposed to the war despite being home to a number of military bases.

“I think it’s phenomenal,” Shapiro said. “I’m blown away by the sheer volume of people who think we need to end this war now.”

Yesenia Polanco, a 22-year-old law student at the University of the District of Columbia [and founding member of Traction], met up with the group from her hometown of Durham to help show how important demonstrations were in getting messages to elected officials.

“We’re here to join the rest of America against a war that should never have started,” Polanco said.

[Story no longer cached]


Association peddles solar-energy use
The Herald-Sun, 20 June 2005:


. . . Shapiro organized a sustainable energy tour that was to lead bike riders to three Bull City homes using solar energy and energy-efficient appliances to reduce energy consumption. The tour was sponsored by Traction, a 2-month old social network created by Shapiro, an activist, to get people in their 20s and 30s engaged in the political process. Although Traction is a political group, some of the 18 people who took the six-mile tour signed up merely for the exercise or more tips on how to save energy. [Traction says: That’s the not-so-secret plan…]

The group also stopped at Eileen Thorsos’ apartment, one of two homes on the tour using passive solar energy. Among the features were a wall of windows on the south side of the apartment, allowing optimal sun exposure in both the summer and winter. The brick floor also acted as a thermal mass, absorbing and then radiating heat to help keep temperatures constant.

“I think people should be demanding this kind of construction, because it’s not expensive, but it’s very effective,” Thorsos said.

Read more here:


The Independent, 4 May 2005:

After dressing down some prominent players, Bob writes:

…here’s a few names on the upside of the ledger:

Lanya Shapiro: You may recognize her e-mail address, givebushtheboot(at)earthlink(dot)net. I think of her as Durham’s answer to Blaise Strenn of Raleigh (an Indy “Citizen Award” winner in ’04), the hardest-working progressive activist in the Bull City. Anyway, Shapiro’s starting Traction – short for Triangle Action – “to jump-start civic engagement among 20-something and 30-something progressives.” (Guess I’ll have to start Re-Laxion, for the over-50 set, myself.) Her idea is to make politics hip with movies, open-mic nights, cool speakers, even a dodgeball team, while also letting folks share information about their local issues and candidates. “It’s about watching Baked Alaska, a movie about global warming, and then working to get an HOV lane on I-40,” Shapiro says. She could use some help, including $$$. Or, for that matter, $$. For starters, drop her a note and get some traction.

Read more here.

If you’d like to contribute some $$$ (or $$), THANK YOU!!

Click to make a deposit in the karma bank.

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