A couple of years ago I was in a workshop where the group leader pointed out that in 1963, when Martin Luther King Jr. stood in front of 250,000+ people at the Lincoln Memorial he did not say, “I have an action plan”. He did not say, “I have measurable objectives.” He did say, “I have a dream. “
Dreams are powerful. They provide inspiration and direction. I dream of a world where every child, everywhere will grow up to be a thriving adult. I dream of a world where violence is the exception and not the norm. I dream of a world in which people have the means to control the decisions that impact their lives. But, Don and Phil Everly were wrong when they sang, “All I have to do is dream.”
We do need action plans. We do need measurable objectives. We need to build “systems of advocacy” if we are going to hold the systems that impact our lives accountable.
Community Catalyst (www.communitycatalyst.org) is a national consumer health organization that works to build the capacity of advocacy organizations in more than 40 states. They have identified, through their research, the key elements of that system. There are six capacities “…each representing a different and complementary collection of related skills, abilities and resources.” (Community Catalyst 2006). The capacities are:
This is not always how we have approached our children’s health policy work in central Iowa. But, it can be. Through the Mid-Iowa Health Foundation HealthConnect Fellowship we are going to build a system of advocacy in central Iowa. It is one of our dreams.
You need to build a system to challenge a system.
Teenagers in jumpsuits lying on yoga mats, their eyes closed, their bodies still. This is the image Megan Hoxhalli describes as remarkable for juvenile detention, a place where youth arrive shaken, dysregulated, and scared about their future.