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Episode 1 | How I Became a Kitchen Table Activist

getting started karen england podcast Jan 10, 2022
Karen England | President of CRI & Kitchen Table Activist

Welcome to the very first episode of The Kitchen Table Activist. This is a podcast that will empower you, educate you, and hopefully get you to go out and engage in your culture.

Don't miss out on interacting with other Kitchen Table Activists in this movement! Scroll to the bottom of this post to find comments and prompts to engage you in connecting with likeminded Activists. We get to lean on each other as we venture deeper into our individual journeys. Now is your chance to capitalize on this once in a life, real-time, opportunity.

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Welcome to the very first episode of The Kitchen Table Activist. This is a podcast that will empower you, educate you, and hopefully get you to go out and engage in your culture. I'm Karen England and I'm going to share my story in our first episode. I'm the Executive Director of Capital Resource Institute. Capital Resource Institute is a pro-family public policy organization out of California. We deal in issues of parental rights, the life issue, marriage, education. And we've been around based out of California for 35 years. In the last couple of years we've been traveling quite a bit across the nation as what has been going on in California, continues to spread. So I wanted to share a little bit about my story because I wasn't always the executive director there. I started out as a mom, homeschool mom, had been married. We were living in Colorado and I had never voted before.

I had just gotten married. I was 30, we were a blended family or blending, I like to say, because we're still always blending. And I had never voted before. And my husband, we were married at the end of August and it was November and he was like, "You haven't voted?" And then I felt all guilty. And from what I had remembered with my parents voting, you went in and you closed a curtain. Anyway, I said, "No, I don't know how to do it. I'm scared." And so he said, "No, you need to do this." And obviously, prior to that, I probably was a feminazi, so who knows how I would've voted? You probably didn't want me to vote back then. So I voted for the very first time. So we then move a few months later and we end up about a year later, we ended up in California and at that time, several things were going on.

Number one, I had taken our youngest daughter and preschool was very expensive. Everything in California's very expensive and even preschool, we couldn't afford at that point. And so I decided, okay, I'm going to look for a pre-K kind of homeschool co-op program that I can get to know other moms and get some friends for my daughter. So we did that. So I started to look into what was going on with education in the school. We also got a foster son. And so I started paying attention to what was going on at the high school. And I was reading the newspaper and I was reading the editorial pages. And there was this editorial, scathing, just scouring about this one woman that was going to destroy the public school. She's the religious right. Ralph Reed moved her in. It was like all of this stuff.

And I was like, oh my gosh, I'm a Christian. My husband's a Christian. Who are these people? We've never met. One of them. Are any of our friends these people? So I decided to go down to a school board meeting to see who these religious right extremists who wanted to ruin the school district were. Show up down there, I remember it was really busy. They were handing out buttons or stickers and asked if I wanted one. And I was like, "No, I don't know, I don't know even I'm doing." I just was going to see, I don't even know how these things work. So I went, sat there, and what's interesting is all these years later, all the drama over sex education in schools, this is what the issue was. And this school board member just wanted to make sure they were including abstinence. That's all she wanted. You need to include abstinence is an option.

So I'm sitting there and she's this person that I thought was going to ruin the school, because that's what I read about, all she wants is to teach abstinence. And I'm thinking I wasn't even raised in a Christian home. And I was told before marriage you don't do that. So I was just shocked. I was shocked that all these people were against her. Again, this was 25, 7 years ago, Rockland Unified School District in California. Dateline came out and did a story on it. My husband was on Dateline. It's just kind of funny now that I've come full circle and that she was trying to get one sentence on abstinence, and now it's ... We'll talk about that in another podcast, the different things that are being discussed in classrooms.

So that was going on. But the other thing, all of this was happening at the same time. I had a girlfriend that I would get up with, Shannon, shout out to Shannon, that I would get up with. And we would pray for tenderness every morning. And again, I came from an unchurched home, so keep that in mind when I tell this story and don't judge me, even though I was judging. We were talking and I remember every morning I was saying, "Can you just pray that God will soften me so he can use me?" And she would say, "Yeah, yeah." And then, the fourth morning she said, "Karen, you're not asking for the right prayer request." And I was like, "You don't say that to someone," but she did. And she said, "the Lord has known you. He's known you, and he's known what he had for you since before you were born. And so he can use you just like you are, you don't have to wait for some magical thing to happen to be used."

And I was like, whoa, that's interesting. That just really had never hit me. I have a strong personality, and I just thought the Lord is just going to have to really humble me to use me. He doesn't need to do that, but he is still using me. So having said that, then what happened was my husband, my husband is a traveling salesman. We had one car and he would go out. He was in the sporting goods industry and he would listen to talk radio at the time. I didn't listen to talk radio and I listened to Rush once and I didn't like it. And I thought he was really arrogant. That totally has changed, and I miss Rush.

But having said that, I just was not a listener. And he was listening to a guy named Tom Leykis. And many of you, if any of you have been in the movement, you'll know who he is. He's an atheist out of California. I believe California, West Coast, very liberal. And he would talk and my husband would just come home all the time and tell me, "He doesn't know the Lord. He doesn't know the Lord. I need to pray for him." Well, one day my husband comes bounding in the house and says, "Wow, Hey, you need to call the Tom Leykis show." And I'm like, "What? I'm cooking dinner. I don't know what you're talking about." He's like, "Call the Tom Leykis show."

And I'm like, "What do I say?" And he's like, "He's talking about how stay-at-home moms are just outdated, that kind of conversation." And I didn't realize at the time, but he was on with the vice president of Planned Parenthood. That's who his guest was on out of New York City. And so my husband said, "You need to call, share our story. That there are people who choose to have one working outside of the home and one staying home. And that is a choice we make. We have one car. Camping is our big vacation trip every year. We're on a budget and I'm homeschooling." So it was interesting when that took place. So he's writing down the number and he is right there. I can't really say "No, honey, I'm not going to do it." So he's standing there. So I go, "Okay."

So he runs into the other room, turns the radio on to listen. And I talk to the screen caller and I say, "I want to talk about it is a choice to stay at home and it's not always an easy choice." And the guy said, "No, we're not going to take you." So my husband comes out of the bedroom and wants to know what happened. And I was like, "He wasn't going to take me. He didn't want to hear me." And I was so, so relieved, because I didn't have to go on talk radio because I didn't know what I was going to say. And my husband said, "Well, Karen, you need to call him back and tell him. You need to tell him he's not taking you because you're a conservative." And I was like, "I do?" And he's like, "Yeah, you need to call him. You tell him."

And so I called him and I said, "You are taking men that are conservative, but you're not taking conservative women. You're only taking liberal women. And so that's why you're not letting me on the show." And he said, "Oh, really? Okay, well I'm going to put you on the show." So I got on the show and I can't remember everything I said, but I made the case about how it isn't easy, but it is a choice and people can do it if they choose. And it would be nice if the government was more supportive of families that want to keep one parent at home. So that's how my journey started. I then started paying attention to things that were going on in education and what was going to happen with our kids. I wondered how did this happen?

I felt like everyone I hung out with was pretty normal. I didn't know who these liberals were that wanted to outlaw homeschooling. It just was foreign to me, this anti-parent kind of attitude, which is funny, because I grew up in Boulder, Colorado where it comes from there. But it was just foreign to me, as I just didn't know. I didn't know how this happened in our country. And so I started paying attention and getting active. And I remember going to a Citizen Lobby Day with my friend Shannon again, we were just two moms, or actually Shannon wasn't a mom yet.

So we were going to a Concerned Women for America lobby day. And that's where this podcast is going to be very similar to one of those. It's where you go and they teach you how a bill comes a law, Ten Commandments of Effective Advocacy. And we were sitting there and there were speakers. We were learning about what you call them, an assemblyman, a senator, who's who, how the process works. They told us about some piece of legislation and then gave us a packet of information and handed it to us and said, "Here's the room number. You're going to go talk to assembly member So and So, and tell them this and you're going to go be a citizen lobbyist."

So we took the packet and we threw it in the trash and went home. It was like, there is no way we can go talk to an assemblyman. I don't know what to do. And I'm like, "I'm a homeschool mom. This is crazy. I can't do the this." So that was my first Citizen Lobby Day. But God has a good sense of humor because the next year I was putting it on. And so that started my journey. So for several years I continued to homeschool and I volunteered for Concerned Women for America and for Eagle Forum. And I just tried to learn everything I could. Again, I didn't know how the process worked. The internet was new at the time. Right around that time, pieces of legislation were just starting to get put on the internet, but I would have to go down to the capital and get hard copies of bills.

It was a really, really different time. We're really blessed that we've got the internet. That makes things so much easier for us to find out what's going on. So my journey started when I looked around and thought, wow, what's happening to my city, my state, my country. And I feel like a lot of you out there are feeling like that. COVID hit and the left saw it as such an opportunity to go in and take over were more of our lives. And I think at first we saw it, or I know I saw it as an obstacle and it was just an inconvenience.

And then I really realized this is an opportunity like no other. This is an opportunity where we are being able to see what's going on in the classroom. Parents don't have to believe me. They can see it on their own screen. Parents can engage at their local school boards online. Parents can see what's happening at city council meetings, because they're hosting them online. It's a lot easier to call up and testify from a phone than go in person with all that intimidating old furniture in state legislatures. And so we really have an opportunity and that's what we want to do here with this podcast. We're going to equip you and help you through this process. As we work hard to take our country back. It is time that we reclaim our parental rights, we reclaim our schools and we reclaim our country.

We can do this. Some of the issues that we're going to talk about on our podcast are going to be, episode number two is going to be the Ten Commandments of Effective Advocacy. And that's a really great one, where we talk about, I started that at Lobby Days and 22 years later still doing it and modifying it. As times change issues change, adjusting our times have changed the internet. You know, we don't get our newspapers on the front door every day. And so we've had to adjust that, but we're hoping that the information that we've gleaned over the 35 years of the organization in my 22 years with the organization, that we can pass that on to you. It's important that we engage and take our country back.

People have the workforce, teachers, companies, they have unions. They have lobbyists. There is no union for the family. We are the lobbyist for the family. If we aren't going to do it, no one will. So as we go into the next year, I want to encourage you to stay with us at Kitchen Table Activists. To subscribe to this podcast, to share it with your friends. If you've got another mom, our hope is that it will be 10 minutes to 30 minutes. People, families are busy. You can pop this in and listen to it when you're going and you're picking up your child at school and you're in the line, or on your way to dinner, I'm a nerd so I would do that on my way to dinner with the family.

But it's the kind of thing, it's a great civic lesson that we want to share with you. So if you've got some ideas or questions you have, a lot of people have questions on how to file FOIAs, freedom of information, or how do you go to school board and talk, how does it work? Those are the things that we are going to cover. So do you have ideas that you want us to cover, topics, please email [email protected], and let me know what you want to hear from us and we're going to share these things. But our next podcast is going to be the Ten Commandments of Effective Advocacy. So I look forward to it. I hope this encouraged and got you a bit engaged, because who knows if you've been called for such a time as this.


~~ Karen


We are ready to serve you in activating change throughout your own community. Please, tell us a little bit about your own path and what triumphs or trials you have been facing using the comment section below. Feel free to talk amongst yourselves and get to know each other. Part of your Activist journey is finding your voice. This is the perfect opportunity to practice introducing yourselves and meeting likeminded community.
If you have any topics you want discussed or questions for Karen, please email [email protected]