I recently had an interaction on Facebook in a grass-roots advocacy group that surprised and disappointed me. I choose to “go high” and will not elaborate on the naïve comments, but I was essentially accused of being a shallow, attention-seeker using my blog for personal gain. This occured after introducing myself and sharing my advocacy work via this blog by individual(s) claiming to want to contribute to progressive political advocacy causes. Tearing people down with similar objectives is generally not a great way to impact change, but I digress…
To have my intentions and moral character questioned by people who clearly know nothing about me was insulting to say the least. Rather than get pulled into the negativity, I thought I would use this as a teaching moment. There are multiple valid approaches to legislative and political advocacy. For those not familiar with this type of work, it may not be extremely straightforward how a blog focused primarily on my own story can assist with impacting political agendas, so I thought I would elaborate the different ways it can assist:
- Speaking with Legislators: One of the most obvious ways a blog can assist with legislative advocacy is when speaking with legislators. Personal stories assist with humanizing policy areas and can be extremely effective in illustrating policy needs. In most instances, you have very limited time to share your story and the specific political actions you are asking the legislator to support. In addition, you often meet with their staff and not the actual legislator. For these reasons, it’s very helpful to have information available to leave with the staff/legislator to remind them of your story and main points. This provides a resource for them to refer to later and allows you to communicate information you may not have had time to discuss during your brief meeting. I have created business cards and flyers with basic information and my blog link for this purpose.
- Planning and Sharing Events: I plan and/or participate in several advocacy, fundraising, and awareness events for Breast Cancer throughout the year that I would love for others to join me in! On my blog, I maintain a calendar to share these events and will write blog posts when the larger events get closer (Think October i.e. Breast Cancer Awareness Month).
- Education: One of the goals of my blog is to share simple, accurate information about Breast Cancer, specifically Stage IV or Metastatic Breast Cancer and try to correct some of the widely believed misinformation out there. Education can be a type of advocacy in itself. By sharing information with others, it improves their understanding of the challenges and hopefully inspires them to take advocacy action, big or small, as well. In this regard, I’ve started with posts such as Cancer 101, this one on “Pinkwashing”, and plan to add more over time.
- Connecting to Others with Similar Objectives: I am regularly encouraged by the fact that I’m not the only one passionate about making positive change. There are already a ton of intelligent, charismatic people working diligently at the causes I care strongly for. I desire to plug into and contribute to this momentum. By putting what I’m up to in a public forum (this blog), it allows others to identify my work, reach out, connect, and put together our contributions to form something larger.
Advocacy work through sharing my story is literally the only way I can think to make something positive come of my cancer diagnosis. It’s brought pretty much nothing but physical and emotional pain to my personal life, so I can only hope that lending my story and being willing to speak publicly about what is going on can have an impact on the greater good. Some people are satisfied by focusing on the problem and whining on the internet. I, however, prefer to roll up my sleeves and be part of the solution!