IN THE BEGINNING
It’s hard to believe that nearly two months have passed since the election. In that time, it’s been like taking a civics lesson by fire hose. Do you sometimes feel your head is spinning? Are your hyperlinks scattered all over the place, and you can’t find a one you want? Have you lost track of the issues you care about? It’s a new year. Time to get organized! Time to start a campaign!
In Daniel Hunter’s Building a Movement to End the New Jim Crow: an Organizing Guide he states:
“Groups often squander precious energy on a series of endless educational events or support groups that don’t seem to add up to anything. In contrast, campaigns channel group power by focusing on a concrete goal.”
What he terms “endless series of actions with minimal impact” won’t achieve any of the goals you care about. It’s time to sit down and begin to think on a specific goal you want to achieve. It’s not that you can’t help out with other calls to action. However, if you don’t specifically identify what it is you want to be able to achieve in the next legislative session, the next quarter, the next year, then more than likely you will be disappointed because “results” will not be fast or forthcoming.
Again, making the phone calls to the legislators, writing emails, etc., is a good thing. Getting organized means taking a personal account of what it is you want changed, “identifying the person or people who could make the desired change (i.e., the “target”), and choosing the tactics.
DEFINE YOUR CAMPAIGN
“Rather than focusing on the problems of society, campaigns identify a piece of what we want and work toward achieving it.” –Hunter
One campaign resulting from this election is a campaign to call legislators about upcoming votes to voice opinions and concerns. One of the first early shares on FB after the election grew into How to Effectively Talk to Your Member of Congress, became its own campaign that resulted in the online publication of The Indivisible Guide. We’re His Problem Now became a campaign that introduced us to collecting legislators’ phone numbers, checking on committee assignments, and setting up weekly Calls to Action. This site, SuitUp Nation, and other activist sites have written mission statements and guidelines to create their own campaigns.
To determine if your actions have become a campaign, ask yourself if you feel satisfied with what you’ve accomplished. Do you feel like you’ve achieved an objective? If not, do you think you have another interest on which you would rather focus?
DEFINE GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
Change requires a large variety of talents working together in a coordinated fashion to achieve a common goal. The new presidency hasn’t even started, so burning out fast and early won’t help anyone. Take the time to define the objectives and the goal which mean the most to you. I’ll share mine with you, as an example. It might be simple, but it’s my campaign.
The slogan, “We’re His Problem Now,” inspired me. I want legislators to really “hear” from constituents or citizens. I want an intern to hear my voice, if possible. My goal is human-to-human communication. And so my commitment is one call each weekday to a legislator about a vote or a topic I care about. If I can’t get in touch with the specific legislator at their Washington office, then I will call their district office.If their district office voice mails are full, then I call another representative. My commitment is that this activity will continue for at least the next four years.
That’s it. That’s my personal campaign with my objectives. Others might prefer to learn how to organize rallies in support of a cause. The people who began SuitUp Nation wanted to create a safe place to coordinate activist activities.
“What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.” –Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
The bottom line is that, if you’re here, reading these Calls to Action, you are energized to suit up and take action. Do something with that energy which makes you feel better about yourself and your world. Don’t let it go to waste. If you’re beginning to “drop out” because you feel overwhelmed, re-examine what isn’t working for you. Maybe you need a different group or different goals.
By organizing your thoughts, about what is important to you, and making choices about how and where you will spend your time, money, and effort, you’re giving yourself a rope to hold onto when times get tough. Don’t let go of your outrage! Use that energy for right and positive action.
Visit SuitUp Nation’s Facebook Group to join in the conversation and become part of the #SUN movement. Make sure to let us know when you’ve taken action! Leave us a comment on our Facebook Page! Tell everyone you’re a bad a** activist who’s standing up for Human Rights all over North America!