When a dam broke and flooded my town, I was out the door to volunteer at a shelter. My volunteering led to being on calls talking about federal disaster declarations and strategizing how to help my community recover.
On one of these calls Laura Clemons, the “goddess of disaster recovery” herself, said:
“Watch out for those who say I support you, that word support means they are going to be advocates; you don’t need more advocates, you need activists.”
In a world that’s often messy and divisive, consider being an activist instead of an advocate.
When we consider ourselves advocates, there’s a tendency to makes introductions and hope someone else does the work. Advocates support from a distance.
But activists do the work. Activists will pore through data, make calls, solve problems, strategize, restrategize, and fight like hell for the things they believe in. It’s both long and short term. It can be an emotional rollercoaster at times, but a ride that you don’t want to get off.
Our places need people with the energy to show up and fight for progress. From adding lighting to a park, to speaking up for change in board rooms, we need activists. Whatever it is that you believe strongly in, there’s a group in your community that needs you.
2021 is coming, how can you show up to serve your place and your people?
- Create a shop local campaign for your small businesses (better yet, buy all your holiday gifts from local businesses, post about each one to set a trend and inspire others to shop local).
- Band together with a group and create a fun festival
- Lead an effort for more public art, a civic discourse dinner, an inclusion council, or run for an elected position.
- Serve a board to give them information and not to receive it
- Ask the hard questions–hearing the word no is the gateway to consideration.
Whether it’s speaking up for change in board rooms, or rallying neighbors to add beautiful lighting to a park, we need more activists than advocates.
We do NOT need more people sitting on boards apathetically keeping the seat warm.
We need the doers and dreamers; the big picture thinkers who are unafraid of starting small and getting their hands dirty by doing the work.