anger, hope and a plan
I’ve been thinking about writing something about the passing of Coretta Scott King & Betty Friedan, but I’m about three days late, and I feel like everything good has been said in other parts of the feminist blogosphere. So this post, while not specifically about them, is dedicated to their memories, and to the hard work they spent their lives doing.
In my first real job as an organizer, I was lucky enough to be trained by some people who took the responsibility of training activists very seriously. Instead of learning to recite a pre-written script, they taught me how to structure an organizing conversation that could be used for any type of issue campaign. The structure was called “problem/ solution/ strategy,” and the basic theory was that the organizer had to, very quickly, define the problem (‘US weapons manufacturers sell arms to dictators’), provide a solution (‘we have to make this illegal’), and lay out a strategy (‘join our organization/write a letter to your Congressperson/volunteer to get others to write letters’). A few weeks ago, I was at a meeting where one of my co-workers described this structure as ‘anger, hope and a plan,’ which I actually like better.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, because I feel like I’m off my game at work. It’s odd, because I just pulled together an event that was pretty successful, but at that event, I was really unsatisfied with my own performance, and I just realized that it came down to the fact that I forgot the ‘anger, hope & a plan’ approach, and just talked plan, plan, plan.
It was Betty Friedan who taught a generation of American women that it was okay to be angry. And it was Coretta Scott King who taught us, by her shining example, that giving in to anger wasn’t enough, we also had to have hope. As an organizer, I know that it’s not enough to just give people the plan without engaging them in the problem and how to solve it. I’m disappointed in myself that I forgot that.