tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-21429470068075777102016-05-20T15:52:11.090-04:00Passion for the PossibleIdeas for those determined to make the world a better placeTracy Moaverohttp://www.blogger.com/profile/08280055712515863977noreply@blogger.comBlogger32125tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-2142947006807577710.post-31236359382011031152013-12-24T20:45:00.002-05:002013-12-24T20:50:19.092-05:00Some kids want lots of toys for Christmas, but not these children<div><span style="font-family: inherit;">When I lived in Washington, DC I volunteered at a shelter for homeless families, <a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010_09_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1362114000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1283313600000" target="_blank">Community of Hope</a>. On Wednesday evenings I would join other childcare volunteers in watching a group of children, ages 3-13, while their parents were in a meeting. The shelter was an apartment building, which allowed families to be together and be safe after coming from an emergency shelter that housed two families to a room.&nbsp;</span><br /><span style="font-family: inherit;"><br /></span></div><div><span style="font-family: inherit;">Some parents had lost jobs. Others were working but could no longer afford the sky high rents in Washington, DC. Some were getting clean and sober after abusing drugs or alcohol. Others had illnesses. <a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2009_12_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=close&toggle=YEARLY-1230786000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1259643600000" target="_blank">One recent resident had to stop working because of heart problems.</a>&nbsp;(She just got the news that she's getting a new heart.)&nbsp;</span><br /><span style="font-family: inherit;"><br /></span><span style="font-family: inherit;">The kids had been through so much, from moving around to relatives' homes for short stays or living out of cars. Some had seen family possessions - including their toys - strewn on the curb after an eviction. Some of them knew way too much about drugs or what someone looks like on them. Others had lived with violence.&nbsp;</span><br /><span style="font-family: inherit;"><br /></span><span style="font-family: inherit;">When people assume that poor children dream of piles of toys, I think about how n</span><span style="font-family: inherit;">ot once in three years did I hear children talk about</span><span style="font-family: inherit;">&nbsp;</span><i style="font-family: inherit;">stuff&nbsp;</i><span style="font-family: inherit;">they wanted.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: inherit;">When generous donors sponsored families at the shelter at Christmastime, the children were asked what they might like to get. I'll always remember some of those wishes:&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: inherit;"><b>Two eleven year old girls wanted dolls.&nbsp;</b></span><b><span style="font-family: inherit;">One little boy wanted a rubber duck.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: inherit;">Another little boy just wanted something nice for his mommy.</span></b></div><div><br /></div><div><span style="font-family: inherit;">You know who has long lists of toys they want for Christmas? Kids who have any hope of getting them. And some of their parents accuse the poor of being greedy "takers." I want them to meet children like my little friends, kids who just want everything to be ok. And then they can meet their parents, who want that even more.&nbsp;</span></div>Tracy Moaverohttp://www.blogger.com/profile/08280055712515863977noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-2142947006807577710.post-15496728716938459792013-03-05T01:05:00.001-05:002013-03-05T01:25:31.479-05:00"Women can't project authority" and six other sexist ideas I don't missSome days it's hard to feel optimistic about progress for women's rights when we're still having to fight for reproductive rights, the Violence Against Women Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act. But after watching&nbsp;<em style="background-color: white; border: 0px; color: #555555; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, 'Lucida Grande', sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: 16px; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline;"><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2013/12/some-kids-want-lots-of-toys-for.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=YEARLY-1230786000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1385874000000" target="_blank">MAKERS: Women Who Make America</a></em><span style="background-color: white; color: #555555; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, 'Lucida Grande', sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: 16px;">&nbsp;o</span>n PBS, I've been reflecting on what's changed since I was a girl in the 1970s. It's a lot. Among things I haven't heard since childhood:<br /><div><div><ol><li><b>"Women can't project authority."</b> This was the rationale for why women couldn't be clergy, elected officials, radio d.j.'s or reporters. The exceptions: women could be d.j.'s on low-ratings shifts if they used a sexpot voice, or they could be reporters if they stuck to light topics, though sports reporting was only for former beauty queens. (Interestingly, I heard the "no authority" line from people who still quaked in their shoes at the mere mention of the nuns who taught them in elementary school.)</li><li><b>"Women are horrible bosses."</b>&nbsp;The flip side of supposed feminine wimpiness was being a ball-busting, hard assed bitch. I heard "never work for a woman" from plenty of men, but especially from women, including "housewives" (as we still said) who didn't have workplace bosses.&nbsp;</li><li><b>"College is for sons, not daughters."</b>&nbsp;I heard this from time to time, sometimes phrased as "college is a waste for girls." One friend's father didn't want to help pay for her education even though she graduated near the top of our high school class and had plans for a profession. Her brother was never interested in college. He became a welder -- something else that would have been off limits to her.&nbsp;</li><li><b>"Only boys can slide."</b> I played softball midway through grade school, back when girls leagues were called "powder puff." The boys over on the next diamond were allowed to slide into bases, but the girls weren't. We were told that girls would get hurt, which made eight year old me wonder if our bones were more brittle. There was no other logical explanation.</li><li><b>"No girls allowed."</b> When I went to Catholic school, I wanted to be an altar girl, but it was for boys only. I was a quiet, studious kid who never got into trouble, but boys who misbehaved or got lousy grades could still serve just because they were boys. I hated that. At my nephew's First Communion a few years ago, I teared up when I saw that all the servers were girls. And yes, I know that the priesthood is still the ultimate Boys Club, but this one change meant a lot to me.</li><li><b>"Damn women's libbers!"</b> This is what many men said when women did anything - even small things - to be independent. I particularly remember this line being hurled at someone who was trying to escape domestic violence. As a kid I saw feminists through the lens of the sexist media who painted them as over-the-top and a little scary, but little by little I saw that what they advocated was what I wanted too, and that the opposition was made up of people trying to hold on to the old ways.</li><li><b>"Nurse, secretary, teacher."</b> Those were the options I turned over in my head when my kindergarten teacher asked what we students wanted to be when we grew up. She didn't give any specifics beyond that, but the other girls and I knew this was the list to pick from. I didn't like any of these options, so&nbsp;I said "nurse" just to have an answer. I was glad I wouldn't have to decide on a job for a long time.</li></ol><br /><ol></ol>Yes, elements of the above beliefs that still linger, but when I tell children how things used to be, they look baffled. "That's crazy!" is the typical response. Just as it never entered my mind that I could be anything but a secretary, nurse or teacher, it's never entered their minds that women can only pick from three jobs.&nbsp;</div><div><br /></div></div><div>For that, I am deeply grateful.&nbsp;</div>Tracy Moaverohttp://www.blogger.com/profile/08280055712515863977noreply@blogger.com1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-2142947006807577710.post-22673550787208954402013-02-24T22:52:00.002-05:002013-02-24T23:11:13.621-05:00Nonprofit experts: fickle fashionistas?Fashion magazines unflinchingly lay down rules for readers, leaving little room for questioning. And then they change their minds a year later, excoriating readers for their terrible fashion choices.<br /><br />Last year:&nbsp;"Wedge sneakers are the fresh new look!" This year: "Wedge sneakers? What a horrible idea!"<br /><br />This year: "Mint green is&nbsp;<i>the&nbsp;</i>color to wear this year!" Next year: "No one looks good in mint green. Why would anyone wear it?"<br /><br />Well, sometimes nonprofit experts remind me of fashion magazine editors.<br /><br />Two years ago: "It's all about building that email list." Last year: "E-mail is dead. Focus on social media." This year: "Forget Facebook. It's on the way out. Build that email list."<br /><div>And at least the fashionistas stick to the same script. I've read conflicting "rules" for nonprofits in the same Twitter feed.<br /><br />Now, let me clarify that I find a lot of what's written for nonprofits helpful. I am glad I discovered advice-filled blogs, magazines, tweets, Facebook feeds and books. I have sharpened my skills and help change the organizations I've worked with, and I get energized by new ideas and directions.<br /><br />What irks me, though, isn't the changes. It's how often advice is delivered with an insistence that <i>this </i>is the right way. Really? Nah, it's one way that <i>might </i>work. There are best practices that can be broadly applied, but there really isn't a one-size-fits-all solution.<br /><br />Hey, it's all one big experiment. Let's keep looking for ways to do things better, but let's also remember that today's advice may be tomorrow's&nbsp;mint green wedge sneakers.&nbsp;</div>Tracy Moaverohttp://www.blogger.com/profile/08280055712515863977noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-2142947006807577710.post-88694379536992110272011-09-22T01:40:00.001-04:002011-09-22T01:56:11.979-04:00In memoriam: What my Midwestern housewife grandmother taught me about social justiceToday my family will bury my grandma, subject of my most popular blog post: <a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2011/02/what-planned-parenthood-means-to-my-92.html">What Planned Parenthood means to my 92 year old grandmother</a>.<br /><br />In eulogizing her last night, I talked about what I learned from her. <br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://passionforthepossible.org/images/undergraduate-student-life.jpeg" imageanchor="1" style="clear:left; float:left;margin-right:1em; margin-bottom:1em"><img border="0" height="244" width="320" src="http://passionforthepossible.org/images/confused-male-student.jpeg" /></a></div><br /><b>Fairness for workers</b>: Wife of a UAW member-Alcoa metalworker, Grandma was an ardent supporters of unions. She didn't believe that corporate executives or their political cronies would protect "the working man," which for her included women, so workers had to stick together. <br /><br /><b>Racial and ethnic equality</b>: She didn't like how black kids were treated when they started coming to the neighborhood pool years ago, and she didn't understand fighting between groups of European immigrants. Her husband and mother were rude to my father when he was dating my mom because he was "guinea" (Italian), but Grandma was always kind to him. Years later when challenged my grandfather on his prejudice toward my dad, she took my side.<br /><br /><b>Gay equality</b>: I remember how angry she was about the 1992 Colorado vote to prohibit civil rights protections for LGBT people. She said, "These people aren't bothering anyone. Just leave them alone!" Later, when she learned that my cousin is gay, she admitted she didn't fully understand these sorts of things since her generation never talked about them, but she had no problem with it. End of discussion.<br /><br /><b>Voting</b>: She was born in 1918, a year and a half before women could vote in the United States. From the age of 21 on, she proudly never missed a single election. She had no patience for people who didn't vote, and she resisted switching to an absentee ballot in her later years because she was so glad to go vote in person. One of her favorite movies was <a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2011/06/12-reasons-why-i-care-about-gay-rights.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1362114000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1306900800000">Iron Jawed Angels</a>.<br /><br /><b>Women's rights</b>: Excited by the many advances women made in her lifetime, she burst with pride when I became the first in the family to graduate from college, and she loved seeing her granddaughters get educations, develop careers and be independent. When I called to say I was moving to Europe, she said "Oh thank God! I thought you were going to say you were getting married." Not one to express affection, she was so moved by me calling her from a reproductive rights march on the National Mall so she could hear the crowd that for the first time she told me she loved me. <br /><br /><b>Schools</b>: While seniors have a reputation of voting against school tax levies, she always voted for them, even though her kids went to Catholic school. Always. She said it was everyone's responsibility.<br /><br /><b>Generosity</b>: Grandma gave to charities that mattered to her, but a few people in my family, myself included, were given checks to pass along to someone we'd mentioned was having a rough time. In my case it was a check for a homeless mother I knew who'd just lost a newborn to SIDS. She never drew attention to her giving. She just did it. <br /><br /><b>Fun</b>: Growing up, Grandma was an avid tennis player, swimmer and runner. She ran so fast in her blue uniform that her friends called her "Flaming Blue," a name she gave her fantasy football team in her 80s. She loved watching baseball, but little pleased her more than a Sunday with three football games to watch from lunchtime til bedtime. And if you called her mid-game, she'd refuse to talk until halftime. <br /><br />She was quite straightlaced in many ways, but she had a mischievous side. She liked when I'd call her with jokes, but she liked the bawdy ones most of all. When my cousin and I called her from an Indians baseball game she was watching on TV, she said to flash the cameras so we'd get on TV. And in this last year, she flirted with her "boyfriends," men who worked at her nursing home. When she was like this, she got a wonderful twinkle in her eye. <br /><br />What does football and being flirty have to do with social justice? Plenty. Grandma had time for the serious things in life, but she also loved the play and humor that makes life fun.<br /><br />And that's what I'll remember about her most of all. A popular quote attributed to a headstone in Ireland goes “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.” <br /><br />While I'm terribly sad that she's gone, I'll always cherish that joyful, mischievous twinkle.Tracy Moaverohttp://www.blogger.com/profile/08280055712515863977noreply@blogger.com2tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-2142947006807577710.post-48149913625391963762011-08-03T22:32:00.001-04:002011-08-03T22:42:49.119-04:00The real problem with the Pat Buchanan's wordsWell, he's done it again. Pat Buchanan has said something racist, and now the news is full of debates about whether or not it's ok to call a black man, in this case our president, "boy."<br /><br />I'm finding some people's professed ignorance about the term baffling, but what's especially troubling is the anger that comes up among whites when they don't understand why a term is wrong.<br /><br />Here's the thing. If millions of people who are the collective target of a word say it's demeaning, and that it's been a part of pain and suffering for generations, that should be all anyone has to hear. <br /><br />So many whites get mad that the N-word is off limits to them even though some African Americans use it. But where's the anger at racism itself? If not in whatever case is all over TV screens at the moment, then at the incidents that happen each day, and at our nation's shameful past? <br /><br />If there was, even once, a real outcry against a racist incident by millions of whites, that would go a long way toward bridging the divide in our country. If we collectively would say, in some manner, that our fellow citizens matter to us, we'd see the beginning of change.<br /><br />For now, though, the power of racism is all too alive and well. The Buchanan defenders were surely the same folks who defended Don Imus a few years ago when the radio talk show host called African American women basketball players "nappy headed hos." In the words of Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post: "The First Amendment notwithstanding, it has always been the case that some speech has been off-limits to some people. I remember a time when black people couldn't say 'I'd like to vote, please.' Now, white people can't say 'nappy-headed hos.' You'll survive."Tracy Moaverohttp://www.blogger.com/profile/08280055712515863977noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-2142947006807577710.post-35948083583748705372011-06-25T13:49:00.004-04:002011-06-25T13:54:00.385-04:0012 Reasons Why I Care about Marriage Equality & Gay Rights<ol>A far from complete list, in no particular order: <li> <b>Rosita</b> and her partner having me witness their wills since they needed some form of legal protection as a couple who can't marry.<br /><li><b>Jen</b> avoiding using her fiancee's name while interviewing by phone for a job in another city despite needing to discuss the move for her fiancee's studies.<br /><li><b>Shelley</b> carefully disguising written materials she was sending to lesbians in countries hostile to LGBT people to avoid endangering these women.<br /><li><b>Steve</b> being afraid to walk home each night for fear of being attacked.<br /><li><b>Nancy</b> not being able to be on her girlfriend's health insurance.<br /><li><b>Jennifer's</b> family rejecting her.<br /><li><b>Larry</b> saying <a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010_06_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=YEARLY-1357016400000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1275364800000">he'd used his military training to protect himself</a> against gay bashing attacks.<br /><li>Coworkers who've looked anxious when first mentioning to me that they're gay.<br /><li><b>Frank</b> enduring years of turmoil, <a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2009/10/we-can-really-do-something-with-kids.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1385874000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1254369600000">not being able to accept himself as a gay man until his 50's</a>.<br /><li><b>Brian</b> telling me about the rose from a romantic high school boyfriend, adding that "of course I gave it back to him before I went into the house." <br /><li>Seeing how many lesbians at the <b>UN Conference on Women in Beijing</b> were the driving force behind initiatives helping women of all walks of life, yet hearing some women insist "we don't have lesbians in our countries."<br /><li> Cousin <b>Laura</b><br /></li><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /></ol>Tracy Moaverohttp://www.blogger.com/profile/08280055712515863977noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-2142947006807577710.post-14115247770028891572011-06-16T10:23:00.016-04:002011-06-16T11:34:54.524-04:00Reversing Rust Belt brain drain: Tracy on Cleveland public radio's ideastreamWhen is moving back to your hometown newsworthy? When that town is in the Rust Belt, which has not only lost industrial jobs but educated professionals like myself who sought opportunity elsewhere. <br /><br />I'm a "boomerang" -- someone who moves away and then comes back, which in my case was after nearly 17 years in Geneva, Switzerland, New York City and Washington, DC. Boomerangs are key to depressed areas regaining their economic and cultural strength. We know our home cities well but bring back new ideas, skills and experience. <br /><br />Cleveland's exciting mix of community-building initiatives drew me back. The <a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010_07_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1359694800000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1277956800000">Gordon Square Arts District</a>, where I'm volunteering my time, has garnered national media attention for using the arts to apply <a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2009/12/follow-twitter-into-halls-of-congress.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1257048000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1259643600000">"economic shock paddles"</a> to a struggling area. Others include <a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010/05/4-things-i-learned-about-fundraising.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1362114000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1272686400000">Ingenuity Fest's</a> unique blend of the arts and a gritty but beautiful location, a myriad of sustainable urban agriculture projects like <a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010/03/when-being-green-turns-into-being.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1312171200000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1267419600000">Community Greenhouse Partners</a>, and a <a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010/08/what-if-were-wrong.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=YEARLY-1293858000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1280635200000">community development corporation</a> model that is studied across the nation. <br /><br />Now Clevelanders are working to draw more people like me back to affordable living costs, a growing healthcare sector, one of the nation's best metropolitan park systems, stellar arts institutions like the world famous Cleveland Orchestra, some of the best libraries in the US, and rich mix of ethnic cultures -- complete with the restaurants and markets that go with them. <br /><br />I participated in the recent <a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010/02/66-nonprofits-that-have-made-my-life.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1257048000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1265000400000">Global Cleveland Summit</a>, which kicked off an initiative to draw "boomerangs" and international newcomers to Cleveland to revitalize our city and take it in new directions. I talked with a public radio reporter about why I'm back: <a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010/02/66-nonprofits-that-have-made-my-life.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=close&toggle=MONTHLY-1265000400000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1265000400000">Northeast Ohio Tries to Bring Back the Rust Belt Refugees / ideastream - Northeast Ohio Public Radio, Television and Multiple Media</a><br /><br />NOTE: If you've boomeranged back to Cleveland, drop me a line. I'm planning a gathering to celebrate our return and to share our experiences.Tracy Moaverohttp://www.blogger.com/profile/08280055712515863977noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-2142947006807577710.post-17563820252696204062011-03-23T01:44:00.000-04:002011-03-23T01:44:36.447-04:00Tracy telling local news about using social media to support unionsCleveland news channels 19/43 interviewed me about using Facebook and Twitter to help defeat S.B. 5, a bill to reduce or end collective bargaining for Ohio's public workers. I've been using both platforms, but especially Twitter, to get the word out about organizing and to live tweet from protests. (<i>Station runs a short ad before the report begins.)</i><br /><br /><script type='text/javascript' src='http://www.woio.com/global/video/videoplayer.js?rnd=146676;hostDomain=www.woio.com;playerWidth=400;playerHeight=340;isShowIcon=true;clipId=5637514;flvUri=;partnerclipid=;adTag=News;advertisingZone=;enableAds=false;landingPage=null;islandingPageoverride=false;playerType=POPUP_EMBEDDEDscript'></script>Tracy Moaverohttp://www.blogger.com/profile/08280055712515863977noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-2142947006807577710.post-42160946237159673302011-03-10T00:00:00.001-05:002011-03-10T00:01:05.816-05:007 Reasons I Support Labor Unions<ol><li><b>My father's union job provided my family with the basics</b>: a modest but nice house in a decent school district, health insurance, and paid time off so we could spend time together. Even as a kid, I knew the union was there to help us.</li><li>Having worked for two unions, I've seen how many <b>workers address safety problems through collective bargaining</b>, from flight attendants to teachers to nurses. At a recent protest of Ohio's S.B. 5 bill to eliminate collective bargaining for public employees, one firefighter's sign said, <i>"Don't make my job more dangerous than it already is." </i></li><li>I've seen the<b> shenanigans companies pull trying to keep unions out. </b>When I worked for Borders, staff had to watch an anti-union video, and store managers were trained by an expensive union-busting firm. Managers warned other stores in the area if there seemed to be a troublemaker among the staff or <i>customers</i>.&nbsp;</li><li>In working on human rights issues internationally, I've seen how respect for <b>worker's rights are a barometer for a country's respect for human rights</b>. The right to organize is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for a reason.</li><li><b>Unions are a check on unfettered corporate power</b>, something our country needs now even more ever.</li><li><b>When I lived in Europe, I saw what strong union membership means</b>. My friends and colleagues from many countries, including ones outside Europe, were horrified by the level of US poverty, our pathetic family leave policies (worse than in many developing nations), our lack of vacation time, our low minimum wage, and our lack of health insurance. A high level of union membership goes hand in hand with a better standard of living for everyone. </li></ol><br />Dr. King said that<i> "the Labor Movement was the principal force that transformed misery &amp; despair into hope and progress." </i>It's time to protect and re-energize that force. Whether we're union members or not, we need<b> <a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010/02/66-nonprofits-that-have-made-my-life.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=YEARLY-1230786000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1265000400000">take action</a> </b>for our country's union workers.Tracy Moaverohttp://www.blogger.com/profile/08280055712515863977noreply@blogger.com1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-2142947006807577710.post-71649084223015311432011-02-18T22:47:00.004-05:002011-09-22T01:46:14.729-04:00What Planned Parenthood means to my 92 year old grandmotherMy grandmother came into this world in 1918, before American women had the vote. She has seen a lot of change over the years, and unlike some older people, she's not terribly nostalgic. There are good things she misses, but also bad things she's happily left behind. What's at the top of her "good riddance" list? The lack of reproductive rights for women.<br /><br />Grandma was raised by a mother who did things women weren't supposed to, like smoking and driving. She was an athlete, loving every minute she could get of track, tennis and swimming. She would take the streetcar to downtown Cleveland to see vaudeville shows and movies. She had an enormous amount of freedom for a young girl.<br /><br />Once she married her childhood sweetheart, however, that freedom disappeared. She had three children in four years. She loved her kids, but not being able to plan the number or timing of her children was hard on her. She's told me that once she was out with her three little girls, and a woman from Planned Parenthood approached her to talk. She really wanted to hear what the woman had to say, but as a "good Catholic" wouldn't talk to her. <br /><br />Years later, things are different. You will not find a more passionate supporter of reproductive rights for women. I remember calling her from the <a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/feeds/posts/default/-/youthhistory/slideshows/march2004/">2004 March for Women's Lives</a> on the National Mall so she could hear the crowd. My normally reserved grandmother sounded emotional. She wished she could be there with us all.<br /><br />So after today's vote in the House to cut funds for Planned Parenthood programs <i>that don't even include abortion</i>, I don't look forward to telling her what's happening in Washington. My grandmother may be 92, but she's as clear as ever, and she's going to be angry. <br /><br />But it's not too late to save the funding as the bill must go to the Senate. Join me in standing with <a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2011/03/tracy-telling-local-news-about-using.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1275364800000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1298955600000">Planned Parenthood</a>. No woman in 2011 should have the same struggle my grandmother did back in World War II.<br /><br /><i>Update: My grandmother died last Thursday. Healthy to the end, she went quietly in her sleep. She'd been pleased to hear about this blog post and that it was my most popular, having been promoted online by the Detroit Free Press and by Planned Parenthood. I have added a new post about her: <a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2011/09/in-memoriam-what-my-midwestern.html">In memoriam: What my Midwestern housewife grandmother taught me about social justice.</a> I'll miss her like crazy, but I'm so grateful to have had her in my life. -- Tracy, September 22, 2011</i>Tracy Moaverohttp://www.blogger.com/profile/08280055712515863977noreply@blogger.com11tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-2142947006807577710.post-85534097398693898012011-02-10T07:16:00.008-05:002011-02-15T10:47:34.697-05:00Is the US to blame for Africa's woes?Some people in the US seem to think so. And they have plenty of things to point to, from the flow of weapons to Africa to harmful trade practices to burdensome debt. There's no shortage of analysis about what the US and other wealthy nations do wrong for Africa.<br /><br />I've had the chance to talk with Africans from every corner of the continent about these matters. They've been human rights or peace advocates at UN meetings or immigrants working in a wide array of jobs in the US and Europe. When I bring up the role of the US and the West in Africa's problems, I get the same response over and over. It can be paraphrased as "we're capable of messing up our countries all on our own, thank you very much."<br /><br />Africans tell me that corruption and greed are what devastate their countries. They also cite the ignorance and bigotry that ill-intentioned leaders use to divide and conquer nations. While they welcome efforts to change international sources of injustice, they see the causes of and solutions to Africa's problems as lying first and foremost with Africans. <br /><br />Those conversations come to mind whenever I hear Americans or other Westerners discuss the need for debt relief or other policy changes for Africa. While some people understand that Africa's struggles are complex, others are so focused on the outside role that you'd think that what Africans do doesn't matter. <br /><br />Meanwhile, within Africa, people and organizations like the thousands listed in the <a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1312171200000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1385874000000">UN's Directory of African NGOs</a> are working to make change from within. They may address US or Western policy, or they may not. Basically, we're not always the star of the show.<br />______________________________ <br /><b>Tuesday, February 15, 2011:</b> For a much more thorough and eloquent examination of the issues I raise, and a look at the role of outside influence and interest in political uprisings, please check out "A classy revolution: Why we cared" by Ivo Vegter for South Africa's The Daily Maverick <a class="twitter-timeline-link" data-display-url="thedailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/20…" data-expanded-url="http://www.thedailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2011-02-14-a-classy-revolution-why-we-cared/" href="http://t.co/aLzzGDh" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title="http://www.thedailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2011-02-14-a-classy-revolution-why-we-cared/">http://t.co/aLzzGDh</a>Tracy Moaverohttp://www.blogger.com/profile/08280055712515863977noreply@blogger.com2tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-2142947006807577710.post-14190853178937195072011-01-26T01:18:00.004-05:002011-01-26T01:44:48.837-05:00"Is that all?" Why low donors matterEver put a stack of items on a store counter, only to hear the cashier say, "Is that all?"&nbsp; I often find myself thinking "isn't that enough?"<br /><br />The real question, of course, is "did you find everything you need?" How that moment is handled colors the customer's experience, especially since payment is the final transaction. Same goes for fundraising.<br /><br />Fundraisers often ask for high dollar amounts, especially over the phone or in person, because starting low means larger gifts get missed. They also want to lay out options a donor might not have considered, such as spreading out a gift monthly or quarterly or delaying payment several months.<br /><br />But many people can only give lower amounts, or don't want to give more. And here's where things can go very wrong.<br /><br />I've sometimes gotten responses to my smaller gifts that are dangerously close to "is that all?" Usually it's a reply so artificially polite that I feel like I've wandered into a high end boutique wearing clothes from Target. If a nonprofit rep sounds disappointed or annoyed at my gift, it tells me that my money isn't needed there.<br /><br />Fortunately, most fundraisers give an enthusiastic "thank you!" no matter what I give. As a donor, I've remembered which organizations make me feel valued, no matter what my level of giving. If I have a good experience with a nonprofit, I really spread the word, including via social media. If I don't, that's the last gift they get from me.<br /><br />Effective fundraisers know that today's low donor could be tomorrow's major giver. They also know that any donor may have contacts that could be valuable for the organization. And, of course, the average gift to a nonprofit is not large, and they do add up. But while all that matters, something intangible also matters. <br /><br />I called a donor for an orchestra last summer, asking for a gift in addition to his recent $20 because a match was on offer. He said he couldn't afford the $20 he already gave as he was wasn't getting many hours in his tool grinder job, but he was such a fan of the orchestra that he'd given anyhow.<br /><br />I loved talking to him, and to many other donors, during that campaign. People from all backgrounds spoke passionately about the performances they'd seen. Some had been subscribers for thirty years. Many remembered field trips to see children's shows. Some had been to the free performances for Martin Luther King Day or July 4. Many were thrilled to hear about the Head Start partnerships and city school programs. Each person had a story to tell about how they had been touched by the orchestra.<br /><br />"Is that all?" misses the point.Tracy Moaverohttp://www.blogger.com/profile/08280055712515863977noreply@blogger.com3tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-2142947006807577710.post-52480809500383914722010-09-30T01:03:00.016-04:002010-09-30T02:55:35.245-04:00How "Roseanne" reruns can make progressive activists more effectiveLately I've been watching the <a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2009/10/when-our-supporters-surprise-us-what-we.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=close&toggle=YEARLY-1230786000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1254369600000">"Roseanne"</a> show on TV Land, and just like when it first came on in 1989, it feels like home. From the afghan on the back of the old sofa to the concerns about layoffs, the Conners remind me of the blue collar family I grew up with.<br /><br />As a nonprofit professional and activist, I spend much of my time around people from higher up the class ladder. I've met great people doing all kinds of important work. Along the way, though, I've sometimes heard things about blue collar workers - often in discussions about economic justice - that sound more like pity than "solidarity."<br /><br /><blockquote>"We need to help people or they'll end up having to do [blue collar job]."<br />"How can you expect those people to care about doing a good job? That looks so boring."<br />"Sure, that new store will bring jobs to town, but who'd want those?"</blockquote><br />It makes me wonder what they'd say about my dad the school custodian, my brother the forklift driver or my mom the "cleaning lady." <br /><br />There's a difference between advocating for better pay, benefits and working conditions and turning your nose up at how people make a living. There's also a difference between promoting education and career options and pitying those who have blue collar jobs by choice or by need. <br /><br />When progressives try to build alliances with working people, especially to get a bill passed or make change at the ballot box, those attitudes get in the way. For thirty years conservatives have been capitalizing on the perception that liberals are patronizing and out of touch. <br /><br />"Roseanne" embodies the things I wish more progressives understood.<br /><br /><ul><li>Blue collar folks typically value hard work, family and community - and loyalty. </li><li>Government assistance programs are important for those who are struggling, but ultimately most people just want decent jobs. </li><li>One route to those jobs is through unions. Support for unions varies tremendously among blue collar workers, but too often unions get left out of progressive political discussion. (One great episode has Roseanne telling off a politician over his plan to give big anti-union companies tax breaks and leave workers with "scab wages" and higher taxes.)</li><li>People can enjoy jobs that don't sound very exciting or challenging. Or they may dislike the job, but still take pride in their work.</li><li>For most people, work is just how you pay your bills, not how you find fulfillment.&nbsp;</li><li> Jobs that might not seem desirable to ambitious white collar professionals can be gold for blue collar workers, like working for a utility company or the government (usually stable work) or getting a union job. And the trades have provided many workers with a solid living. </li><li>People may want their kids to have more options than they do, but that doesn't mean they're ashamed of where they are. And some may envy what money brings those who are better off, but they don't necessarily wish they had the same lives.</li><li>Workers may be frustrated with their job or financial situations, but they're not helpless or in need of rescuing. They understand their situations and have plenty to say about what would make their jobs and their lives better. </li></ul><br /><br />Let me put it this way. If the idea or message wouldn't fly at the Conner kitchen table, then it's time to rethink it. You want Roseanne Conner with you, not against you.Tracy Moaverohttp://www.blogger.com/profile/08280055712515863977noreply@blogger.com1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-2142947006807577710.post-31427097229811861292010-09-21T23:23:00.003-04:002013-12-31T18:02:36.384-05:00Grading my event volunteer experiences. How would your nonprofit stack up?I enjoy volunteering at events. It's a fun way to meet people and get to know an organization. And sometimes it's a free ticket to an event that is beyond my budget. My experiences have ranged from great to, well, pretty frustrating. <br /><br /><b>Environmental organization tabling at a festival</b><br />Signed up for a shift via an event-scheduling website linked to the organization's Facebook page. There was no field for giving my contact info! Two nights before the event, my mother got a message for me on her answering machine from a guy speaking so fast she couldn't understand him. I went over to hear it myself, and after listening to the message five time I was able to make out a volunteer coordinator's phone number. (This guy must have found my mom in the phone book since we have the same last name, but I'm wondering if other relatives got calls too.) Fortunately, the event was great. No followup from the organization though. <b>Grade: C</b><br /><br /><b>Nonprofit tech event</b><br />Sounded like an exciting, ambitious program. Signed up via an event scheduling website after seeing an announcement on Twitter and got an auto-response thanking me and promising further information. Followed the event updates on Twitter, but I never got any information by Twitter, email or phone about where to go and when.<b> </b>I got a follow-up email thanking me, even though I didn't attend. <b>Grade D-</b><br /><br /><b>Family literacy event</b><br />Signed up over email. Waited a long time on a dark street corner in a not-great neighborhood to be picked up by staffperson who didn't have much to say to me on the way to the venue. Got almost no info upon arrival. Watched volunteers stick with each other instead of talking to parents or kids. The children's session was chaotic. I never heard from this group later, and I never went back for subsequent events.<b> Grade: F</b><br /><br /><b>Human rights organization selling fair trade goods at a festival</b><br />Signed up by responding to an announcement in an email newsletter. Quickly got a response thanking me, promising follow-up. Several days before the event I got another email with instructions, directions, a schedule with volunteers' names and numbers, background info on the petition we were asking shoppers to sign, plus contact info for the staff. Had a very good time. Four days later I got a handwritten thank you card and an email inviting me to volunteer again.<b> </b>I'll give this group credit by name: <a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010_09_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1385874000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1283313600000">The InterReligious Task Force on Central America</a>. <b>Grade A+</b><br /><br />As is often the case, the details matter. As an organizer, I'm more aware than ever how important the follow-up is. What works for you, and what doesn't, when you volunteer?<b><br /></b><br /><br /><i>UPDATE: Three years later, I am still involved with IRTF because they have such a well-run operation. I've recently increased my involvement from occasional tabling to working with the board and staff on boosting their fundraising efforts.&nbsp;</i>Tracy Moaverohttp://www.blogger.com/profile/08280055712515863977noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-2142947006807577710.post-11306221817826081502010-09-01T04:29:00.005-04:002010-09-01T12:42:22.593-04:00"My neighbors are Muslim. Please don't hurt them."That's the slogan from a button I wore after the 9/11 attack. I thought of it recently when I saw a "take back America"-type group on Facebook. The discussion on the Islamic community center for Lower Manhattan was loaded with insults and threats of violence against Muslims. <br /><br />The opposition to the community center keeps making one thing clear to me: that most Americans don't know a thing about Islam. Most Americans have learned about Islamic extremists (though there's plenty of misinformation too), but few know much about Islam or everyday Muslims. Fear and ignorance have people conflating violent extremists with a fifth of the world's population. <br /><br />I keep hearing about how terrible anything related to Islam is. That makes me think of dozens of Muslim friends and colleagues from the United States, Tunisia, Lebanon, Malaysia, Spain, Mauritania, Senegal, Kuwait, Morocco, Algeria, France, Indonesia, South Africa, Somalia, Kosovo, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Ghana, Afghanistan, Mali, Egypt, Iraq, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Palestine, Azerbaijan and Mauritania. <br /><br />Many of these people are peace, human rights and women's rights advocates I've met in non-governmental organizations and at United Nations conferences. Others? An attorney. An electrician. Students. A fellow childcare volunteer at a homeless shelter. An engineer. Musicians. A waiter. Shopkeepers. Parents. Babies, kids and teens. <br /><br />Most were born into Islam, though a few converted. Some are quite observant, some less so. One man is married to a Jewish woman, another to a Catholic. Most of the women don't wear a hijab (head scarf), though some do. I've only met one woman, an African-American, who wears the full head-to-toe black covering with a niqaab (face veil). Most are well-educated, and nearly all are bilingual, with quite a few speaking three or four languages. All work with and befriend people of many different religious and ethnic backgrounds.<br /><br />Lots of these folks have invited me over for meals. One friend included me in his breaking-fast gathering during Ramadan. And the North Africans make a great dry-spice rub for lamb on the grill for July 4th picnics.<br /><br />The Kosovars and Somalis were refugees in Switzerland. One Somali, then only 19, once went three weeks without food to make sure his younger brother and sisters could eat. His dream was to go to the US to get his degree in an English speaking university, putting a terrible time in his life behind him.<br /><br />The Americans were African-Americans or the children of immigrants. All had a deep faith in the promise of American ideals. And the biggest concern of the little kids I met? Getting cookies.<br /><br />Talk against Muslims makes me think of <a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010_03_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1280635200000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1267419600000">Faiza</a>, a businesswoman and mother from Baghdad who joined the Friends Committee on National Legislation on Capitol Hill to advocate for an end to the war. I think of the Egyptian woman who was the only stranger to reach out to me in Washington, DC in the week of 9/11, seeing how upset I looked while sitting in a cafe. I am not sure if she was Muslim, but she worried what a violent US response to 9/11 might trigger among Muslim extremists. I still remember the gratitude in her eyes when I said I worried about a backlash against Muslims in the US. I also think of the shopkeeper on my street who was glad to see the "my neighbors are Muslim" button.<br /><br />I certainly realize that these people do not represent all Muslims around the world. They'd be the first ones to agree. But neither do violent extremists represent all Muslims. Until our country better understands the difference between a religion and how it is twisted and misused, we'll continue to have t-shirts like the wry one a Tunisian friend in Washington, DC has:<br /><br /><blockquote>"My name can trigger a national security alert. What can yours do?"</blockquote><br /><br />Below are people and organizations that show a side of Muslim life that too few Americans see. Please add more to the comments section. <br /><br /><b>Support for the community center</b><br /><a href="http://www.cordobainitiative.org/"> Cordoba Initiative</a> also on <a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2009/12/follow-twitter-into-halls-of-congress.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1312171200000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1259643600000"> Twitter @Park51</a> and Facebook. <br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010/02/beyond-sports-mascots-columbus-day.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1314849600000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1265000400000">Religious Freedom USA</a> <br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010_09_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1362114000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1283313600000"> New York Neighbors for American Values</a><br /><a href="http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2010/08/09/rabbi-lerner-backs-the-park51-islamic-center-in-lower-manhattan/">Back the Park51 Islamic Center in Lower Manhattan</a> Video of Rabbi Lerner of Tikkun magazine supporting the center. <br />A statement from the <a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010/09/why-i-wish-progressive-activists-would.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1267419600000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1283313600000">Friends Committee on National Legislation</a> presenting a Quaker perspective and a <a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010/09/why-i-wish-progressive-activists-would.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1272686400000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1283313600000">report from a conference call on the community center with Daisy Khan</a> Executive Director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement, including a link to audio from the call<br /><br /><b>Interfaith organizations</b><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2009/11/how-twitter-is-making-me-better.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1267419600000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1257048000000">Muslim Peace Fellowship</a> "Whatever act of violence has just taken place, we deplore it." Part of Fellowship of Reconciliation, an interfaith peace organization working internationally and in the US since 1914. Supporters have included Albert Einstein and Coretta Scott King.<br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2013_12_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1275364800000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1385874000000">Religions for Peace</a> is the largest international coalition of representatives from the world’s great religions dedicated to promoting peace.<br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2011/06/northeast-ohio-tries-to-bring-back-rust.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1359694800000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1306900800000">The Interfaith Encounter Association</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2011_03_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=YEARLY-1230786000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1298955600000">United Muslims of America Interfaith Alliance</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2011/02/what-planned-parenthood-means-to-my-92.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1257048000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1296536400000"> Salam Institute for Peace and Justice</a><br /><br /><b>On campus</b><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2011/03/tracy-telling-local-news-about-using.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1254369600000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1298955600000"> Muslim Students Association</a> Nearly 150 chapters on colleges across the US, including on a number of Protestant and Catholic university campuses including <a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2009/10/we-can-really-do-something-with-kids.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1385874000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1254369600000">Georgetown University</a>, a Catholic institution which has the first American university full-time Muslim chaplain.<br /><br /><b>A few other organizations worth checking out</b><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010/08/what-if-were-wrong.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1298955600000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1280635200000">My Faith - My Voice</a>. Terrific public service ad <br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010/09/grading-my-event-volunteer-experiences.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=YEARLY-1357016400000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1283313600000">The Islamic Society of North America</a> <br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010_03_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1385874000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1267419600000">Muslims for Progressive Values</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2009/12/follow-twitter-into-halls-of-congress.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1257048000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1259643600000"> KARAMAH: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2009/10/we-can-really-do-something-with-kids.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1362114000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1254369600000">Congressional Muslim Staff Association</a> Check out the useful resources section<br /><br /><b>And on my to-read list</b><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2013_02_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1314849600000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1359694800000biblio/17-9780060750626-0">What's Right with Islam Is What's Right with America: A New Vision for Muslims and the West</a> by Feisal Abdul RaufTracy Moaverohttp://www.blogger.com/profile/08280055712515863977noreply@blogger.com1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-2142947006807577710.post-6230018965929241712010-08-04T18:45:00.000-04:002010-08-04T18:45:21.533-04:00What if We're Wrong?Such a scary question for most people -- and most organizations. We pay attention to crafting message, measuring outcomes and being strategic, but rarely do we create room for this basic question. <br /><br />I'll always remember the only time I've heard it in an advocacy organization. Several staff members were gathered in the office of the Executive Director. It was a tough time when little good news came from Capitol Hill. We were trying to open a dialogue with members of Congress on a polarizing, high profile foreign policy matter. The approach was a gentle one designed to find common ground with legislators, including those who didn't typically share our point of view. <br /><br />The Executive Director had received a letter from a longtime colleague in another organization criticizing our initiative. He found our approach overly cautious, wanting to see us take a stronger, more strident one. Sort of a "tough times call for tough action" message. <br /><br /><blockquote>"Let's talk about this. What if we're wrong?"</blockquote><br />I can't remember if those were the Executive Director's exact words, but that's close. We then carefully weighed the points our colleague raised. Were our assumptions wrong? Were we misreading the situation on Capitol Hill? Would we more successfully move members of Congress toward our position with a stronger message and more in-your-face tactics? <br /><br />In the end, we didn't change our campaign, but the discussion was worthwhile. We reaffirmed why we'd chosen our strategy, and we clarified our message. Younger staff learned how campaigns from previous decades informed our executive director's decision, enriching our own knowledge about organizing for change. And we got the valuable message that we were allowed to make mistakes and change course.<br /><br />That conversation prepared me for calls from people who were frustrated for the same reasons that colleague was. In each case, I was able to turn a doubter into a supporter ready to meet with their members of Congress. <br /><br />In the end, our gentle approach worked, opening up conversations with members of Congress who never would have engaged with us if we'd had a strident message. We found congressional opinion to be more varied than we thought, sometimes for unexpected reasons. Little by little, we broke through the public posturing that had defined political debate on this issue, building congressional support for our ideas to address an international crisis.<br /><br />Not only did asking "what if we're wrong?" not hurt our efforts, it helped us do our job better.Tracy Moaverohttp://www.blogger.com/profile/08280055712515863977noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-2142947006807577710.post-77888205714775100292010-07-20T01:10:00.005-04:002010-07-20T01:59:57.943-04:00How We Saw the News as Kids or: Where Was the Water in Watergate?I've long been fascinated about how children see the news of the day, and I love talking to people about their memories of historical events. I've asked dozens of people what their first "current events" memory was, curious to see what made an early impression. Some people answer without hesitation, while others have to think hard. Often people remember an election campaign, like Roosevelt or Mondale-Ferraro or Clinton. The children of activists have spoken of their parents including them in political activities during the 30s, 60s and 80s. Many talk about the Challenger disaster. Some say the Gulf War. A colleague from India remembered martial law. <br /><br />A former boss spoke of sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech. She was too young to understand who Dr. King was, but she and a little friend sat stock still because the huge crowd went completely quiet during this speech. Clearly this man was important, and playing around would mean getting in big trouble. <br /><br />But I've heard one answer over and over again: the assassination of President Kennedy. And it comes from people of a wider range of ages than you might expect, including from people the Philippines, the UK and West Africa. Clearly those of us born later will never fully appreciate what that day was like.<br /><br />And my own first such memory? Watergate. I was seven, and I'd heard about it for months. I still remember asking, "Mommy, what's Watergate?" She said the president lied, so he had to quit. That made sense since my first grade teacher said that George Washington never lied. (Though I initially found that so hard to believe that I pondered it all the way home.) When I asked what he lied about, my mom said it was too hard to explain. That left me trying to figure out my biggest question: how was it about water? I surmised that President Nixon had flooded the bathroom by putting too much toilet paper in the White House toilet and said he hadn't done it. As some people have pointed out, that's not far from the truth.<br /><br />My overall memory as a young child, though, was the sense that the world was somewhat upside down. With Watergate, Vietnam, the Kent State shootings (not far from my hometown), social upheaval and urban decay, the adults around me seemed unnerved. That said, like most kids I had no trouble putting all this aside for more important things, like throwing naked Barbies out the second floor window. <br /><br />So what is your earliest memory of current events or politics? What did that event mean to you? Please share your comments below!Tracy Moaverohttp://www.blogger.com/profile/08280055712515863977noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-2142947006807577710.post-74917332564990447342010-06-10T01:02:00.004-04:002011-02-18T23:54:14.286-05:00What Helen Thomas Got Wrong, Sesame Street Gets RightI've admired Helen Thomas since I was a kid, watching her put tough questions to President Reagan during press conferences, so I was disappointed at her incredibly insensitive remarks about Israeli Jews. At the same time, few of her American detractors acknowledge that some Natives would like to see the rest of us leave. <br /><br />At the end of the day, in any country where "who belongs" is debated, no one ever leaves. That's why I love people and organizations who work across the lines of conflict to change the question to "how can we live together?" <br /><br />Sesame Street got it right in the form of a joint Israeli-Palestinian SesameWorkshop production. In the show, Jewish and Palestinian kids play together on a playground, and a bilingual actor (like "Luis" in the US show) helps Palestinian and Jewish girl Muppets bond over their love of falafel. When a show representative showed clips at the UN several years ago, he said that it was sometimes hard for the crews to work together, but they overcame their feelings to keep moving forward. I haven't been able to find those videos online, but here's a <a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2011/01/is-that-all-valuing-low-donors.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=YEARLY-1357016400000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1293858000000">clip </a>from <i>Rechov Sumsum</i>, the Israeli show, with characters singing in Hebrew and Arabic. <br /><br />I had the chance to meet women from <a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2011/03/tracy-telling-local-news-about-using.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1265000400000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1298955600000"></a><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2011_09_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1312171200000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1314849600000">The Jerusalem Link</a> several years ago. Among other initiatives, they pair up women from both "sides" who get to know each other and who stay in touch. They said that when the violence intensifies, it can be hard to talk, but they call each other to touch base, agreeing to talk again when emotions aren't so high. <br /><br />A handful of many other worthwhile organizations in Israel and Palestine: <br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010/05/4-things-i-learned-about-fundraising.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=YEARLY-1293858000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1272686400000"></a><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2011_09_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1312171200000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1314849600000">The Palestinian-Israeli Peace NGO Forum</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2011_01_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1312171200000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1293858000000">Peace Now</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010/09/grading-my-event-volunteer-experiences.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1272686400000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1283313600000">Rabbis for Human Rights</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010/05/keeping-nonprofits-their-chapters-on.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=YEARLY-1230786000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1272686400000">OneVoice</a><br /><br />Please add your suggestions for other resources about fostering peace in the region. The hardliners on both sides get so much attention, but so little goes to those who are trying to find a way out of the hate and bloodshed. <br /><br />Time to change that.Tracy Moaverohttp://www.blogger.com/profile/08280055712515863977noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-2142947006807577710.post-47913827944227596912010-05-27T02:18:00.005-04:002010-05-27T02:28:37.698-04:004 Things I Learned about Fundraising from Riding the NYC SubwayWhile living in New York I found, as most city dwellers do, that you tune out many panhandling requests. You have to when you asked for money multiple times a day. It's also hard to know who's genuinely needy and who's collecting coins to hit the liquor store. I prefer giving to nonprofits who address the roots of poverty, but sometimes I gave on the subway. The same was true on the streets of Washington, DC, where I just lived for nine years. <br /><br />As I started doing more nonprofit fundraising, I noticed how I responded to requests for money. And it didn't matter where they came from -- nonprofit mailings, a street canvasser, or someone asking for change. Little by little I saw that no matter who asked me for money, I responded to the same things.<br /><br /><b>1.) Politeness.</b> Like most people, I don't respond well to demands or insistence that I give money. I strongly believe we have a responsibility to care for each other, from the neighborhood to the global community. But if someone demands donations as if I owe them, I'm out. <br /><b><br />2.) Being more than a donor.</b> The people I regularly gave to in my DC neighborhood were the guys who always greeted me, and who didn't ask for help every time I walked by. They would ask about my work, or if I still had a lingering cold. This, I realized, is like the fundraising principle that you value your donors for more than their money. And the stories I heard from these guys are ones I'll remember for years to come. <br /><br /><b>3.) Urgency.</b> This has come up most when mothers with young children tell me they hadn't eaten that day. I have a hard time saying "no", even when I can't be sure the money is going for food. (Some people did ask for food directly.) In those moments I could imagine myself in the moms' shoes, and a small gesture on my part would hopefully ease someone's crisis just a little. <br /><br /><b>4.) Someone who makes me think.</b> It's been nine years since I last saw her, but I still remember the woman on the L train who always greeted the whole car with "aren't you glad you woke up today?" I gave to her as a thank you for helping me regain perspective on tired, crabby days. <br /><br />What was the real lesson? When asking for help, respect and compassion go hand in hand.Tracy Moaverohttp://www.blogger.com/profile/08280055712515863977noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-2142947006807577710.post-30537302696432676292010-05-12T23:17:00.011-04:002010-05-12T23:37:50.930-04:00Keeping Nonprofits & Their Chapters on the Same Page<blockquote>"The national office keeps trying to dictate our work."<br />"The northwest chapter missed the campaign deadline again."<br />"The Washington, DC staffers don't understand how busy we chapter reps are!"<br />"The chapters don't understand how busy the national office is!"</blockquote>Those are the kinds of complaints I've heard while working for organizations with chapters or affiliates. And it doesn't matter what kind of organization it is - international, national, coalitions or unions - there's always some friction between the main office and the affiliates. Here are some things I've learned about how to keep things running as smoothly as possible.<br /><br /><b>For the main office working with affiliates</b><br /><ul><li>Have a communications strategy. One organization I worked with was sending action alerts from three different offices to their chapters, which left the chapter leaders overwhelmed and confused about what was priority, and then the national staff got frustrated with chapter inaction.</li><li>Be responsive. Staffmembers need to answer affiliate calls and emails as quickly as possible. Show affiliates that their needs matter, and they'll be quicker to prioritize organization-wide initiatives.</li><li>Respect the affiliates' points of view, and their variations in capacity. What sounds like a great idea in Washington or San Francisco may be a terrible idea in Detroit or Dallas.</li><li>Include chapters in planning campaigns and projects. If you want their participation later, get them involved early. </li><li>Collaborate via wikis. (See the recent TechSoup webinar on <a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2013_02_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=YEARLY-1262322000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1359694800000">Collaborating with Wikis</a> to learn how to use this great tool.)</li><li>Keep communications simple. Of all the updates and articles I've sent out, I got the best feedback on a weekly legislative update which just listed the status of key bills and let affiliate leaders know what to do and when. No analysis, no fluff. </li><li>Keep paperwork to a minimum. You know how some funders make you nuts with paperwork and reporting demands? Don't do that to your affiliates. Build easy reporting methods into your work, such as through online forms, and share the results so everyone can benefit. </li></ul><br /><b>For affiliates working with a main office</b><br /><ul><li>Be clear and specific with the head office about your needs so they can help.</li><li>Read those emails from the national office before calling with questions. The staff write those emails for a reason!</li><li>Fill out your paperwork, and send it in on time. The more time the staff spends trying to get you to send in reports or finance paperwork, the less time they have for other important things.</li><li>Respect the main office's point of view. They have the tough job of creating a workable program for a wide mix of affiliates. If something's not working for you, talk to them and see what can be adjusted.</li><li>Remember that a unified organization is a stronger one. The campaigns that come from the head office need your participation to succeed.</li></ul><br /><b>For everybody</b> <br />Give each other the benefit of the doubt. Nearly all companies and organizations have some chatter about head office "scheming" or ineptitude in a local branch, but it's not helpful. These stories often make faulty assumptions about why something isn't working well. If something's not right, deal with it directly. <br /><br />When things get frustrating, stop and remember that you agree on what matters most: your organization's mission.Tracy Moaverohttp://www.blogger.com/profile/08280055712515863977noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-2142947006807577710.post-77372545506688035482010-05-08T00:53:00.015-04:002010-05-08T01:21:50.073-04:00Overlooked, Thought-Provoking Sights in Washington, DCLast month, as I wrapped up nine years in Washington, DC, I took a break from packing to walk the city one last time. Enjoying springtime on the Mall, I thought about Washington sights that too few people visit, places that cut through the noise of a self-important city to the heart of our democracy. <br /><br /><b>Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial</b> <br /><br /><i>"More than an end to war, we want an end to the beginnings of all wars." </i><br /><br />That is one of nearly two dozen quotes by President Roosevelt inscribed in the memorial dedicated to him. Much to my initial surprise, it isn't a statue, but a series of naturalistic outdoor rooms along the Tidal Basin created from stone, water and trees. The quotations, inscribed in the stone, take visitors through the Depression and the New Deal, World War II and the leadership the president provided through those difficult years. <br /><br /><i>"The structure of world peace cannot be the work of one man, or one party, or one nation. It must be a peace which rests on the cooperative effort of the whole world."</i><br /><br />I first visited the memorial while the US was newly at war in Afghanistan and gearing up for war in Iraq. Roosevelt's words were a welcome contrast to "let's get 'em!" and "you're either with us or against us" messages coming from the Bush White House and the Hill. I kept thinking that much of what Roosevelt said would be criticized as unpatriotic or "socialist" today. Every member of Congress and any administration should visit this memorial. <br /><br />Also still relevant is the work of Eleanor Roosevelt, who has a section at the end of the memorial. Her <a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2013/02/nonprofit-experts-fickle-fashionistas.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1265000400000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1359694800000">"My Day"</a> column, which my grandmother says she never missed, is well worth reading. From human rights to nuclear disarmament, her words still ring true.<br /><br /><b>Sewall-Belmont House and Museum</b><br /><br />This <a href=" http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2011_03_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=close&toggle=MONTHLY-1298955600000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1298955600000">museum</a>, found right behind the Hart Senate office building, houses the historic National Woman's Party and was the Washington home of founder and Equal Rights Amendment author Alice Paul from 1929 until 1972. <br /><br />The house has many interesting items, such as banners and photographs, but two moved me the most. One was an original jailhouse door pin, one of the pins given to suffragettes who were imprisoned for protesting in front of the White House. While in prison, they went on hunger strikes and were force fed. They endured terrible treatment. I think of them every time I vote, and I feel immense gratitude.<br /><br />The other was the desk at which Alice Paul wrote the Equal Rights Amendment in 1923. <i>Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.</i> This simple but powerful idea was shaking the country in the 1970s when I was a young girl. Talk, both positive and negative, about "women's libbers" and the ERA was everywhere. While that fight was in full swing, Alice Paul and other suffragettes were still living in the house, getting to see where their work had taken the nation. <br /><br />The museum staff and volunteers are happy to give tours, which I found aren't lectures but conversations. There's also a <a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2009/11/open-letter-to-young-activists.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=close&toggle=YEARLY-1230786000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1257048000000">shop</a> that takes online orders. I happily picked up a coffee mug for my grandmother, who was born a year and a half before women could vote, and who has never taken that right for granted. My next purchase will be a replica of the jailhouse door pin.<br /><br /><b>A few more for the future . . . </b><br /><br />I never got to a few places despite having them on my "to do" list for ages. One was the <a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2011/02/is-us-to-blame-for-africas-woes.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1362114000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1296536400000">Frederick Douglass House</a>, which is a museum run by the National Park Service, and the other is the <a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010/05/4-things-i-learned-about-fundraising.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1275364800000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1272686400000">African American Civil War Museum</a>, which is next to the memorial along historic U St. I may have missed getting to the sites, but I will read up on each. <br /><br />What are you favorite historic places in the nation's capital? How do they connect you to our past?Tracy Moaverohttp://www.blogger.com/profile/08280055712515863977noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-2142947006807577710.post-86579610020027626942010-03-16T22:43:00.008-04:002010-05-08T01:20:59.352-04:0028 Random Observations After Nine Years of Working in Washington, DC1. You can tell a lot about the district or state of a Member of Congress by the artwork, photos, awards and knicknacks in their office. Lots of military stuff? They probably have a military base in their district and sit on related committees. Bowling pins and an autographed photo of Frankie Yankovic, the polka king? Dennis Kucinich from my blue collar, Eastern European immigrant home district.<br />2. Sames goes for freebies on front desk. Free peanuts? Georgia. Saltwater taffy? New England coastal district. I tried without success to get free wine in Lynn Woolsey's office. She represents California wine country.<br />3. Fax machines in Washington endlessly spew invitations to congressional campaign fundraisers. For $500 you can have breakfast with one candidate, join a downhome BBQ with another or try some luau themed mini golf with yet another. My personal favorite? A Republican dove hunting weekend in Texas. <br />4. Many House aides are really young and inexperienced, and they can be obnoxiously cocky. Their huge workload includes covering a bizarre mix of committees that they initially know nothing about, yet they can do a worrying amount of meddling in important bills. Senate aides, on the other hand, are usually much more experienced and have a much higher level of expertise. <br />5. Congressional offices vary tremendously in terms of how they're run. Some seem orderly from the minute you walk in the door. Others make you wonder who's in charge.<br />6. No one actually understands the Senate's rules of procedure.<br />7. Working in Washington means going to receptions where people read each others nametags to see who's worth talking to. For the same reason, one of the first things people ask in social situations is “where do you work?”<br />8. It's hard to plan events - even late ones - with members of Congress as special guests when votes are going on. They may come late or not at all. When they do, they can switch on and give a great speech and then work the crowd before running back to vote. (Another reason why Sarah Palin writing notes on her hand was ridiculous. She failed Politician 101 with that move.)<br />9. Because the House has 435 members, you can find a member who agrees with your political viewpoint, no matter how wacky it is.<br />10. It's no fun getting balled out by a member of Congress or their staff for something someone in your organization did (e.g. chapter had a protest in their local office), especially if you didn't know about it. It's just plain annoying when you're getting an earful for a mistake made by a member of the congressional staff, and the staffperson is trying to blame it on you. <br />10. Hill interns can often be spotted talking loudly on the Metro or in bars about their jobs, ones that they believe are going to impress you.<br />11. You can tell when a Washington formal event has Hollywood types attending since the clothes are stylish instead of dowdy. <br />12. Military bands seem to give concerts all the time. All over town. Especially if you don't care for this style of music. <br />13. You can rent out the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum for private events. Events are a big part of the local economy, so if you can think of a space, there's a good chance it has seen a ball or awards dinner.<br />14. Event planners often cater to Republicans or Democrats, depending on the connections of the principals. Each administration has an associated event style. The Clinton era was Hollywood and splashy. Bush Senior administration was low key. Reagan era had a lot of formal events. <br />15. There's an association for everything, including <a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2009/10/when-our-supporters-surprise-us-what-we.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1257048000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1254369600000">associations</a>. Some favorites, just based on names? <br />American Meat Institute<br />National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association<br />American Industrial Hygiene Association<br />Steel Tank Institute <br />Pet Food Institute <br />Epsom Salt Industry Council <br />American Gas Association (Yes, I'm 12.)<br />Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (fun!)<br />To be fair, they have legitimate business, and some of the above do important work on health and safety issues, but still, I have passed many DC office doors and laughed out loud. Especially at the Leather Institute. <br />16. Washington is loaded with 20 somethings who spend countless hours networking at happy hours. The bars they go to often lean Dem or Repub.<br />17. The resumes of these ambitious young professionals, even the ones just out of college, are often amazing. They'll have packed more into their resume by age 23 than a lot of people do by 30 or 35.<br />18. Most DC professionals have at least a Master's or a law degree, often two of them. A mere Bachelors is an anomaly. <br />19. DC offices are loaded with TVs that run CNN, C-SPAN, etc., all day, even in lobbies. Only some of these TVs are actually watched. <br />20. DC has C-SPAN radio, which makes sense given the uncompelling visuals of the typical TV broadcast. <br />21. Spring = hordes of tourists for cherry blossom season, and the traffic makes those tourists very angry. So pretty flowers = much horn honking. Spring also means the city is invaded by hordes of 8th graders on field trips, sometimes in groups of 200 or more.<br />22. Nothing makes locals more cranky than tourists on Metro escalators who don't understand the unofficial stand to the right, walk on the left rule. Yet strangely few Washingtonians will ask people to move to the right. They just stand there and fume. <br />23. Pentagon contractors advertise on television and in the Metro. So a McDonald's ad can be followed by one for a missile system.<br />24. Mail to federal offices is still irradiated to kill biological agents like anthrax, and some of it shows up partially disintegrated and crumbly. <br />25. Washington revolves around the congressional schedule. August recess means the city feels half empty. Even people who don't do political work often follow the schedule, such as when Congress runs late in the holiday season, because it affects the number of customers in taxis, restaurants and stores. <br />26. There are more police departments in DC than I can even remember most days, so getting permits for marches or rallies means knowing which one you need to go to. You might be dealing with the DC police, National Park Service (you'd be surprised what's NPS land) or the Capitol Hill police, though I lost track once Homeland Security changed some of the federal departments. I've seen squad cars for about a dozen departments or agencies, plus some bomb squad trucks that had a strangely disco-y look to them.<br />27. The city's restaurants change depending on who's in the White House. Republicans mean more steak houses. Democrats mean more eclectic restaurants. <br />28. No matter how crazy or frustrating Washington, DC is, you can't say people don't work hard.Tracy Moaverohttp://www.blogger.com/profile/08280055712515863977noreply@blogger.com2tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-2142947006807577710.post-33271269547739310132010-03-09T08:14:00.004-05:002010-03-10T00:06:19.542-05:00When Being Green Turns Into Being ObnoxiousOne of GOOD magazine's most discussed blog entries is <a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2009_12_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1267419600000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1259643600000">How to Politely Refuse a Plastic Bag</a>. The light, illustrated piece has practical information, but the comments section hit a nerve for me.<br /><br />Most of the comments were fine, and a few reminded me that twenty years ago plastic was pushed as a better choice than paper. A handful, though, were anecdotes about setting cashiers straight. Apparently, "no, I've been to Africa" is a reasonable reply to "would you like a bag?" A cashier's puzzled look is then an invitation to talk about plastic bags littering the Kenyan landscape. And when buying a backpack, repeatedly answering the bag question with "I'm buying a bag" should not throw a cashier who bags thousands of items a day and is probably on autopilot for rote parts of the job.<br /><br />Before working fulltime in nonprofits, I was a bookseller.* I found that asking "would you like a bag?" got one of three responses: "Yes," or an angry "of course I do!" or an ultra serious "it's bad for the environment, and I don't want to contribute to more non-biodegradable waste in landfills." The third one had many variations, including the unintentionally hilarious "save a tree!"<br /><br />My coworkers and I, despite not liking plastic bags ourselves, found the environmental responses grating. The exception was customers with a sense of humor ("save a plastic tree!"). More frequently, however, responses felt like condescending lectures, where we were being "enlightened" by the smarter, more aware customers. We got to be enlightened repeatedly, throughout each day.<br /><br />A simple "no, thanks" would do just fine. Cashiers, or any other service workers, are tasked with pleasing their customers. What makes one happy ticks off the next one, so it's a balancing act. Businesses also have standard procedures that employees are required to follow, especially at the register. In some stores, bags are required so it's clear that a customer isn't shoplifting.<br /><br />We're all partners in making change, so enough with the self-righteousness. Lectures or admonitions about bags, or water use or public transportation, don't involve listening. They come from a position of "I'm right and you're wrong, and I'm going to tell you why."<br /><br />What to do instead? Be strategic. <br /><ul><li>Actions speak louder than words. Bringing your own bag or simply turning down a plastic one helps shift the demand away from plastic.</li><li>Calling or emailing store management makes more sense than bugging the cashier who has no power to change store procedures. Ask why a business does what you think is unnecessary, since the need may be genuine even if the solution is not ideal. Understanding why things work the way they do makes us better able to suggest workable solutions.</li><li>Help change laws. Here in Washington, DC we have a new $.05 tax on plastic bags used in stores selling food. Not only are reusable bags becoming abundant, but the taxes that are collected go to cleaning up the Anacostia River.</li></ul><br />As another person commented on the Good site: "Maybe not every single cashier gets it, but OH the snobby lectures and eyerolls I have gotten over my many years of working in retail.... and from people I actually agree with, no less."<br /><br />Insulting supporters, let alone would-be supporters, is no way to build a movement for change.<br /><i><br /><br />* I managed independent bookstores, so I must add <i>please support independent stores</i>! Check out <a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2011/02/what-planned-parenthood-means-to-my-92.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1298955600000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1296536400000">IndieBound</a> and <a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2013_02_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1314849600000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1359694800000">Powell's Books</a> and skip Amazon and the big chains.</i>Tracy Moaverohttp://www.blogger.com/profile/08280055712515863977noreply@blogger.com5tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-2142947006807577710.post-15107509282054026352010-02-22T22:00:00.001-05:002010-05-08T01:22:33.333-04:00When Getting Deported Is Good for Your HealthI recently talked to a worker in a Washington, DC pharmacy about how hard it is for many Americans to get health care. She told me a story that sums up our nation's misdirection. <br /><br />She has an adult stepson with schizophrenia. Over the years he has landed in jail many times for nonviolent offenses. Usually he's been picked up for sleeping in public places when struggling with his illness. <br /><br />At one point, this woman hadn't heard from her stepson for two years, and she had no idea where he was or how to reach him. Then he called from an Arizona jail. He'd made his way across the country, and yet again he'd landed behind bars because of his illness. <br /><br />This man was not a US citizen. He'd lived in the US for most of his life, but he was born in Great Britain. Because he'd had so much trouble with the law, he was deported.<br /><br />Within 2-3 months of arriving in Britain, the National Health Service was providing him with psychiatric care, a support system, and even an apartment. He was living a healthy life for the first time in many years. His stepmother said getting deported was the best thing that could have happened to him.<br /><br />If that isn't a good argument for health care reform, I don't know what is.Tracy Moaverohttp://www.blogger.com/profile/08280055712515863977noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-2142947006807577710.post-84588256949303064932010-02-14T22:47:00.002-05:002010-02-15T11:43:55.208-05:0066 Nonprofits That Have Made My Life BetterBelow, in no particular order, are nonprofits that have been important to me, whether personally or professionally. Some have given me wonderful opportunities through a job or volunteering, or they taught me professional skills. Some have provided inspiration through the arts. And some very special ones have helped me and people I care about through illnesses or hard times. <br /><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010/03/28-random-observations-about-washington.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1283313600000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1267419600000">Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010/02/66-nonprofits-that-have-made-my-life.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1259643600000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1265000400000">Ballet San Jose (formerly Cleveland Ballet)</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2011_08_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=YEARLY-1230786000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1312171200000">Greater Cleveland YMCA </a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010/05/keeping-nonprofits-their-chapters-on.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1296536400000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1272686400000">Brethren Volunteer Service</a><br /><a href="http://www.jcu.edu">John Carroll University</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2009/12/follow-twitter-into-halls-of-congress.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=YEARLY-1357016400000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1259643600000">Women Empowered Against Violence (WEAVE)</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010_07_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1254369600000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1277956800000">American Heart Association</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2013_02_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1272686400000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1359694800000">American Cancer Society</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010/09/why-i-wish-progressive-activists-would.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1385874000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1283313600000">9to5: The National Association of Working Women</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010/06/what-helen-thomas-got-wrong-sesame.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1283313600000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1275364800000">International Peace Bureau</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2009/11/how-twitter-is-making-me-better.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1359694800000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1257048000000">Physicians for Social Responsibility</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=YEARLY-1262322000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1385874000000">Gensuikin</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2011/03/tracy-telling-local-news-about-using.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1265000400000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1298955600000">Dawn Center</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010/08/what-if-were-wrong.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1314849600000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1280635200000">Project: Learn</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010_02_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1267419600000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1265000400000">Girl Scouts USA</a><br /><a href="http://www.motherearth.org/">Friends of the Earth Belgium</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2011/06/12-reasons-why-i-care-about-gay-rights.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=YEARLY-1357016400000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1306900800000">Women's Action for New Directions</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010_09_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1254369600000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1283313600000">Peace Action</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2011/03/tracy-telling-local-news-about-using.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1275364800000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1298955600000">Planned Parenthood</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2013_02_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1259643600000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1359694800000">Georgetown University Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010/09/why-i-wish-progressive-activists-would.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=close&toggle=MONTHLY-1283313600000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1283313600000">Foundation Center</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2009_10_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=YEARLY-1262322000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1254369600000">Center for Nonprofit Advancement</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2011_09_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1280635200000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1314849600000">Grandmothers for Peace International</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=YEARLY-1230786000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1385874000000">World YWCA</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010_09_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1362114000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1283313600000">Community of Hope</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010_09_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1306900800000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1283313600000">DC Law Students in Court</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010/05/overlooked-thought-provoking-sights-in.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1362114000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1272686400000">Friends Committee on National Legislation</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2013_12_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1312171200000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1385874000000">Quaker United Nations Office</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010/06/what-helen-thomas-got-wrong-sesame.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1362114000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1275364800000">American Visionary Art Museum</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/feeds/posts/default/-/nonprofits">NGO Working Group on the Security Council</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2009_10_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=YEARLY-1262322000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1254369600000">Center for Nonprofit Advancement</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2013_03_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=YEARLY-1262322000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1362114000000">CaringBridge</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2009/12/follow-twitter-into-halls-of-congress.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1314849600000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1259643600000">Cleveland Clinic</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2011_08_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=close&toggle=YEARLY-1293858000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1312171200000">University Hospitals - Cleveland</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010/09/my-neighbors-are-muslim-please-dont.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1259643600000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1283313600000">Kennedy Center Millennium Stage</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010/05/keeping-nonprofits-their-chapters-on.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1296536400000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1272686400000">Brethren Volunteer Service</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010_08_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1272686400000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1280635200000">International Campaign to Ban Landmines</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2009/11/open-letter-to-young-activists.html">Joe Torre's Safe at Home Foundation</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2009_10_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1265000400000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1254369600000">Women's International League for Peace and Freedom</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2009_11_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1359694800000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1257048000000">Cleveland Museum of Art</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2011/03/7-reasons-i-support-labor-unions.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1277956800000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1298955600000">Social Action Leadership School for Activists</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010/02/66-nonprofits-that-have-made-my-life.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1298955600000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1265000400000">Cleveland Peace Action</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2011/09/in-memoriam-what-my-midwestern.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1267419600000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1314849600000">Mennonite Central Committee</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010_03_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1275364800000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1267419600000">Ellis Island Foundation</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2011/09/in-memoriam-what-my-midwestern.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1259643600000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1314849600000">Université Ouvrière de Genève</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2013_12_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1362114000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1385874000000">My Sister's Place</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010/09/my-neighbors-are-muslim-please-dont.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1362114000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1283313600000">Cleveland Public Theater</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2013/02/nonprofit-experts-fickle-fashionistas.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1362114000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1359694800000">Amnesty International USA</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2013_03_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1254369600000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1362114000000">Women's Information Network (WIN)</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2011/01/is-that-all-valuing-low-donors.html">West Creek Preservation Committee</a> <br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2009/11/when-nobody-matters-seeing-unseen.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1267419600000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1257048000000">VDay</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010/07/how-kids-see-news-or-where-was-water-in.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1275364800000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1277956800000">Asia Society</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1298955600000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1385874000000">Cleveland Orchestra</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2011/06/northeast-ohio-tries-to-bring-back-rust.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1280635200000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1306900800000">Arena Stage</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2011/06/12-reasons-why-i-care-about-gay-rights.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1359694800000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1306900800000">Lower East Side Tenement Museum</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010/09/grading-my-event-volunteer-experiences.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=YEARLY-1230786000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1283313600000">International Fellowship of Reconciliation</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2011/06/northeast-ohio-tries-to-bring-back-rust.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1362114000000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1306900800000">Idealist.org</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2013/02/nonprofit-experts-fickle-fashionistas.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1312171200000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1359694800000">Unity Health Care</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2009/10/we-can-really-do-something-with-kids.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1283313600000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1254369600000">Gensuikyo</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2011/08/well-hes-done-it-again.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1254369600000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1312171200000">Housing Counseling Services</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2011/06/northeast-ohio-tries-to-bring-back-rust.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1312171200000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1306900800000">NGO Committee on the Status of Women-Economic Commission for Europe</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010/02/when-getting-deported-is-good-for-your.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1298955600000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1265000400000">Nihon Hidankyo</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2011_08_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1267419600000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1312171200000">Alliance for Nuclear Accountability</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2010/02/when-getting-deported-is-good-for-your.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1280635200000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1265000400000">National Necrotizing Fasciitis Foundation</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/2009/11/open-letter-to-young-activists.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive2&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1283313600000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1257048000000">American Red Cross</a><br /><a href="http://www.passionforthepossible.org/feeds/posts/default/-/youth">National Organization for Women</a><br /><br />There are many others. How about you? Which nonprofits have been important in your life?Tracy Moaverohttp://www.blogger.com/profile/08280055712515863977noreply@blogger.com0