Advocacy

Of Self Preservation and Social Media

I am passionate about a number of things but the big ones tend to revolve around women (feminism), environment and politics. It’s the interconnection of feminism, environmentalism, politics, activism and spirituality – otherwise known as [modern] ecofeminism.

My personal soap boxes include reproductive justice (including abortion, birth choice, breast feeding and maternity rights), the right to naturally cultivated, organic food (including Anti-GMO, right to grow, raw milk, farmers collectives) and environmental health issues, specifically in women (including EDCs/Breast Cancer and patriarchal dominated research funding).

Given the recent passage of that sneaky little thing referred to by many as the Monsanto Protection Act, the Anti-GMO movement has been my hot button this week.  I am helping to organize the March Against Monsanto for New Brunswick, NJ.  The lead organizer asked me to be one of the speakers at the rally. At first I was terrified (I haven’t dug into that type of public speaking since college), then I was psyched and said yes. Then I analyzed it from a conflicts of interest and office politics perspective and told her I would have to think about it.

I love advocacy rhetoric.

Show me a cause to fight for and I want to know and understand the words you use in your fight, if they work, why and how.  It’s the exhilarating part of campaign work for me. I love being an active participant in democracy; speaking out and fighting for the things I believe in. After all, Democracy is NOT a spectator sport.

But right now, I love my financial stability a bit more. My resurgence into political activism is failing miserably. I feel like a bad activist.

Being caught in the press on video advocating against Monsanto and collectively GMO and GM  may be down right dangerous for my job security.  How do you fight the big man, when the big man indirectly pays your bills? A non-profit institute of higher education pays my bills directly but their bills get paid through research dollars and a significant amount those research dollars come from biotech.  I have only been here a year…I may need to get some time under my bootstraps before I start shaking the tree.  But I am not giving up. I emailed my Executive Director as well as the Director of Conflicts in the Office of General Counsel to get their thoughts. However, OGC may have their hands full right now given the latest athletic scandal.

SIDE NOTE: when are people going to wake up and realize that Athletic culture is FUCKED UP?? It’s BROKEN.  Freaking fix it already.

So I will wait to hear back from my director and OGC to see whether or not I can take advantage of an incredible opportunity  to speak in front of 100s of people on a day that 1000s of Davids protest Goliath. If they don’t think it’s the best idea, I will continue to help organize and I will attend, I’ll just stay out of the spotlight. It’s totally frustrating and disheartening, but at this moment, self preservation is key.

Now, getting back to my happy place.

I’ve been doing some awesome work with the Phi Sigma Sigma Foundation on their Communications Committee. I am spearheading a rebranding campaign for them including color palette, logo rules, voice/tone and the whole shebang. I’m also working with another volunteer to give the blog (and website) a visual and content facelift.  I love this stuff. I was up last night until midnight jamming on content, editorial calendars, layout and SEO.

I don’t know where this mega nerd in me came from, but she’s hot.

I think she probably came from B-School. Thanks, Marie. Even though I don’t run a business anymore, you definitely flipped a switch in me! The more I look back on my time spent with LBG the more I realize what I loved was the branding, the social media the digital campaign work. Understanding that is making it easier to let go a little, more and more each day.

I already need to pick my classes for Fall 2013…given my love for everything social media, I think I am starting to fall into the Digital Media side of the program more and more. The director of the MCIS program actually predicted that this would be where I would end up.

Advocacy, Environmentalism, Feminism

Scanning, Dabbling and Changing the World…

DISCLAIMER: This blog post is more for my own brain dumping edification than for your entertainment. 

Since early college, I wanted to work in/run a non-profit organization. I majored in political communication/campaign management an minored in women’s studies with that intent. I fell in love with Marian Wright Eddleman, Gloria Steinem and Sarah Weddington.  I volunteered  for various women’s groups, political candidates and environmental organizations. I continued volunteering after college while supporting myself by waitressing. And I kept having recurring conversations with my parents that always ended with “you have to get a real job”  “you can’t work for nothing” “you can’t volunteer forever”

So I stopped my volunteer work and went to law school. I think my intention was to skip the trenches (unpaid) and jump to the executive (paid) levels in the non-profit/campaign world. I thought that the letters after my name would get me there (rather than the paying the time + dues + dirty work). Of course, I was wrong. Accordingly, I have never been able to actually land a job with a NPO or campaign that I actually believe in and have passion for.

I have dabbled in all the little things I believe in or want to advocate for without actually fully committing to that profession.

I went to law school because I thought it would open the door to work in Non-profits.  I got an LLM in environmental law, because I  wanted to work in environmental advocacy. I got certified as a yoga instructor because I believe in and want to advocate for the balance of body + mind + spirit. I got certified as a holistic health coach because I believe in and want to advocate for natural, whole foods and a healthy lifestyle in balance with nature and the earth’s cycles. I got certified as a birth doula because I believe in and want to advocate for a woman’s choice for natural birth without unnecessary medical intervention. I trained in Mayan Abdominal Massage because I think every woman should intimately know (and be able to take charge of) how her body works.

I never really wanted to be a lawyer. I never wanted to teach yoga (though I love doing so). I never wanted to be a health coach.  I never really wanted to be a doula, I never wanted to give abdominal massages.  I just wanted to learn. I just wanted to have the knowledge to be able to credibly advocate by/for/about these things.

There is a (ridiculous) saying – those who can’t do, teach. I think the saying should be those who are afraid to do, continue to learn.  I am stuck in a perpetual cycle of learning. Am I afraid of doing?

There has to be a bit of fear in there somewhere… The fear of not being able to find the job that satiates me, not being able to make a living at that job, not being able to make a difference.  The common denominator to those fears, is insecurity, it’s the fear of not being good enough. Not being flexible enough, peaceful enough, healthy enough, strong enough, inspirational enough, articulate enough, just not enough.

My own perception of competition terrifies me.  There are millions of yoga teachers, health coaches, business coaches, life coaches out there. There are 1000s of non-profit organizations designed to save the environment, empower women and fight for healthy options. The idea of having to be as good as any one of them terrifies me.  What will make me unique? What will make what I do special? Stand out? Make a difference without taking away from something or someone else?

I’ve read the Fire Starter Sessions, I’ve read A Course In Miracles, I’ve gone through B-school, I’ve Dream Mapped, I’ve Surrenderd. I am well versed in the laws of attraction and abundance and theoretically understand that there is plenty for everyone and the right “clients” are out there for me. But I still can’t seem to move past the fear of not being as good as XYZ. I’ve been a passive participant in all of it, without truly taking action.

Part of the problem is understanding my big crazy dream, inside and out.  I can’t narrow it down. I can’t pick just one thing.  It’s so large and vast.  I think the common thread in all of it is advocacy on one level or another for the diverse things I am passionate about.

  • I want to create an advocacy think-tank that serves non-profit, heart centered or purpose driven organizations. I want to design + create their campaigns, their branding, and their message.
  • I want to run a non-profit organization that DOES GOOD and that SERVES. But what good things and what service, I don’t know.
  • I physically want to create things using my hands. Dig in the dirt. Recycle, re-purpose, build.

What does all of this mean? How does it all come together? Where is the clarity?

I bring all of this up because as a graduate student, working toward my Ph.D, I need to make a choice. I need to hone in on a research topic. A subject. A field to become an expert in.  I have had meetings with professors in the Political Science, Digital Media, Communications and Public Policy departments.  I am somewhere between ecofeminism, the rhetoric of advocacy, branding for non-profits and campaigns and environmental communication. How do I pull it all together?  I want to smash the fluffy-bunny-wiccan-men-hating paradigm attached to the ecofeminist movement, to write a revised manifesto for MODERN Ecofeminism.  I want to understand the rhetoric that makes a campaign successful and tell PETA, “you’re doing it wrong.” I want to be the person that designs the words to tell the world “economic growth isn’t compatible with environmental protection, but here’s how we can do better. This is how we fix it.”  I want to start a movement that’s bigger than a Facebook group or a Google + Community that is true high-risk activism.  I want to scream at the online generation that Social Networks are making us apathetic.  CLICKING LIKE isn’t going to change the world. You have to get up off your ass to do that!  I want to be the David that slays Monsanto.

I want to put it in my mouth, chew on it and come up with a thesis statement.