#CreateChange: are you an issue swimmer or a changemaker?

Author:Berman, Tzeporah

WHEN I FIRST started campaigning there was no Twitter, no Facebook, no Instagram ... no Internet. Good organizing happened around your kitchen table, in cafes and by phone. I still remember when we figured out how to broadcast fax to multiple numbers from the Friends of Clayoquot Sound office in my friend Val's living room. It was revolutionary and saved us hours standing over the fax machine. Today in organizing it is easier to get the word out and quicker to engage hundreds if not thousands of people. I worry though that the art of self-directed issue-based campaigning is dying out with the flood of information and connection we now have.

All too often we get to our desks in the morning, turn on our computers, and follow the flow of the news. Read this article, react to that article, post this article. Maybe you hear of a meeting taking place to discuss the issues you're following in the news ... You attend that meeting and perhaps write a blog post on your opinion of that particular issue.

Occasionally you participate in organizing a rally or drafting a report. In my experience, today the majority of people who think of themselves as organizers and issue campaigners do some version of this pattern every day. The bottom line is that we are becoming issue experts but not campaigners. We are "issue swimming" instead of driving change. Responding instead of creating.

Following an issue, knowing it inside out, participating in a conversation about the issue is simply not campaigning. Good campaigning is about driving the conversation, it's about creating a dialogue that can lead to a specific outcome. Good campaigning means outlining a strategy that is anchored in events and key moments that you create, that engage decision makers and force a response.

Events are the stuff of politics and news. They drive change and conversation--reports, panels, marches, rallies, direct actions,...

To continue reading