Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge Parks and Rec fan. Growing up, I basically was Leslie Knope. And if I hadn’t gone into art, I definitely would have gone into government. (Ok, let’s be honest. There’s still a chance of that happening. When I turned 35 last year, I celebrated it as my presidential birthday.)
And while I identify most with Leslie, I feel so strongly towards many of the characters on Parks and Rec. However, there was one character that I never really got. Ann Perkins. I never really thought much about her, and truthfully, it didn’t really bother me when she left the show. (Other than being sad that Leslie was sad, of course.)
But all that changed in the aftermath of the election. As I watched so many of my friends turn to despair, I felt the need to rewatch the Recall Vote episode of the show. In that episode, Ann and Ben form the “Leslie Knope Emotional Support Task Force” with the goal of helping Leslie get through the recall vote. And after Leslie loses and Ben fails at his job (almost letting Leslie get a tattoo), Ann is the one there to remind Leslie of what makes her great and motivate her to get working again.
And for the first time, I truly understood the point of Ann’s character.
There’s no shortage of products floating around the Internet with the phrase “Be the Leslie Knope of whatever you do.” But in the days after the election, as I watched the passionate, driven women I admired falter, I came up with a new rallying cry.
“If you can’t be the Leslie Knope of whatever you do, then be somebody’s Ann Perkins.”
And for the next few days, I ran around the Internet trying to be the best emotional cheerleader I could be. I left comments, hearts, and fist bumps on Instagram. I wrote emails and tried to motivate others as best I could.
In that moment, I realized that the Leslie Knopes of the world (myself included) need an Ann Perkins to pick them up from time to time. And so I tried my best to be everybody’s Ann Perkins.
Which is why it gave me all the feels when Jill shared this blog post about the impact of my email in the days after the election. Jill took my call to arms about the importance of teaching art to heart, and started teaching workshops making fabric banners. Inspired by a how-to on creating protest banners, Jill realized that making fabric banners was a simple yet powerful way to unlock others creativity.
As weeks slid into months after the election, I had almost forgotten my mission to be somebody’s Ann Perkins. As I found my footing, I reverted back to my more typical Leslie Knope self. But Jill’s blog post reminded me of my mission to be somebody’s Ann Perkins and actually made me feel like, if only for one person, mission accomplished.