One of my hobbies is protesting. My involvement started when I lived in a small town that was a lively vortex of political activity.

It had begun when residents banded together with tens of thousands of people to protest the construction of a nuclear power plant in the area. When the plant was built, the people’s energy and enthusiasm for protesting did not go away, so it was possible to go to a couple protests a week if you worked your calendar right.

Over the years, I protested nuclear power, offshore oil platforms, cutting down oak trees, the death penalty, war, discrimination against gays and lesbians…a whole laundry list of causes.

Protests all have the same kind of feeling. It is like each is a clone of all the others, kind of like going to church where you know the order of service but not the exact content.

There is a kinship with fellow protesters. Not everyone will risk being seen in public protesting, so it is like homecoming, no matter who shows up. You see old friends and make new ones while you are standing around waving signs.

There is nervousness – “Will we be attacked? Shouted at? Arrested?” Those things are always possible, probable and sometimes expected.

There is resignation. Often dozens of protests are necessary to get one little thing accomplished. So even though you have worked all day, even though there are more fun things to do, somehow you show up and do it all again.

But then there is pride. Looking back at past protests, I can say that a 12-mile swath of oak trees stands where there could have been bare earth. A newspaper that discriminated against gays and lesbians lost its readership and eventually shut down. The death penalty is on its last legs in the United States.

I didn’t do any of these things by myself. I did them with thousands of other people, a community of people who don’t mind standing up and standing out for what they believe in and having fun doing it.

Democracy in action. It isn’t a bad hobby, actually. Beats scrapbooking, I think.