Nov 24, 2009

Report Card for John Legend and the Show Me Campaign: A

Promoting values such as hope, compassion, sustainability, independence and growth, the Show Me Campaign, founded by John Legend, does a phenomenal job of appealing to many different audiences.

One of the things that this campaign stresses, and inevitably aids in its success, is the value of action and community involvement. They promote a message that change isn’t easy, it takes patience, but it is possible. They also encourage people to stop talking so much, and instead start looking for ways to incite tangible changes through action. The encourage people to work together and share their success with each other to help provide inspiration and motivate each other.

What really pushes them towards the top of most coalitions is that they provide substantial and sustainable solutions that promote growth within impoverished communities that only leave them reliant on themselves. Initiatives such as providing fertilizer, free school meals to children (which increases attendance rates to 100 percent), local clinics and Internet connections, help provide the people of Mbola, Tanzania with the tools they need to succeed on their own. Which is something, regardless of political party, culture or gender, that most people can get behind.

And for that, the Show Me Campaign gets an A.

Nov 10, 2009

How to Unite and Conquer: Go ahead and vote with your money

I definitely believe in clean elections, but I think that as consumers, we can cast a vote with every dollar we spend.

Ben Jelen, a musician and friend of the earth, talks about sending companies a message about how they treat the environment with your money. If you feel strongly about an issue, whether it be gay marriage, health insurance reform or eco-consciousness, cast your vote via your purchases.

Find out what companies support the same issues as you and start to support them. If we all united together on these fronts, we would start sending an extremely strong message to companies about their practices, either forcing them to change their ways or deal with the consequences.

Nov 4, 2009

It all starts with you

I think we often underestimate ourselves; thinking that just one person can’t make that big of a difference. While it’s seemingly irrelevant to politics, this at&t commercial does a great job of showing just how much power one person can have – if we just reach out.

Decades ago, getting a group together as quickly as the college students do in this commercial, would have been nearly impossible. But, now, being more connected than ever, we can easily reach out to friends, family, past classmates, coworkers and even a few friend of a friend’s, to create a large network of supporters.

So, how come we don’t see examples of this happening on a daily basis?

Because we often limit our thinking to just ourselves, thinking that singularly, we only can do so much on our own, instead of expanding our horizons to a large network of people who are ready and willing to help.

The next time you, or your coalition, are looking to reach an exponentially growing network of people, keep a few things in mind:

  1. Create something worth sharing. Ensure that your message is worthy of people sharing with their friends and family (who will then pass it on to theirs and so on). That might include creating a sense of urgency, communicating values in a creative way (videos, photos) or using emotional anecdotes (such as a lost puppy…).
  2. Encourage sharing. Provide viewers with the tools to share these messages, whether it’s including a share bar on your website’s content or allowing them to forward emails easily.
  3. Show them how big the network is. No matter how independent and self-confident a person is, we often look to other people to see how we should act. Thus, explaining why full tip jars get more tips than empty ones, because we feel a social pressure to conform. If someone can see that a group or cause has thousands of supporters who are mobilized and taking action, chances are, when they join, they’ll start acting the exact same way.

Above all, remember, it only has to start with you.

Oct 29, 2009

Schwarzenegger and other Republicans backing Health Insurance Reform

Earlier this month, the Huffington Post reported that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the latest Republicans to publically announce his support for Health Insurance Reform. Other republicans working in a bipartisan manner include former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson.

Why are so many republicans backing the bill? Aside from recognizing that it’s necessary, it’s because, since day one, President Obama and supporters of Health Insurance Reform have been communicating values. When speaking about this issue, values such as equality, opportunity, change, the future, quality and well-being are regularly stressed. It’s hard for people to disagree with such values, because it would almost feel inhumane to admit to not wanting all people to have quality and well-being.

Oct 27, 2009

Attending President Obama’s signing of hate crimes bill

I have been invited by President Obama to attend the signing ceremony of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes bill this Wednesday, Oct. 28 at the White House.

After 14 votes in Congress over the course of 10 years, Congress finally has passed landmark legislation to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from violent hate crimes. I am proud to see our country’s hope for progress and change become a reality. This historic victory offers protection for all Americans, including right here in Arizona.

Nearly 80 percent of Americans support the passage of hate crimes legislation that expands the current law to include crimes against people based on their gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity and for 10 years, Americans have been lobbying Congress to expand the definition of hate crimes to include LGBT people who are victims of hate crimes.

Upon the President’s signature Wednesday, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act will allow the federal government to provide assistance to local law enforcement agencies investigating hate crimes committed against LGBT people.

Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old gay college student, was brutally beaten and tied to a frozen fence to die in 1998 in Wyoming, and James Byrd, Jr., an African-American man, was dragged to his death in Texas in the same year.

The Act also allows the Justice Department, to take the lead, where local authorities are unwilling or unable, in investigations and prosecutions of violent crimes resulting in death or serious bodily injury that were motivated by bias. The legislation also makes grants available to state and local communities to combat violent crimes committed by juveniles, to train law enforcement officers or to assist in state and local investigations and prosecutions of bias motivated crimes.

President Obama and members of Congress have taken a first important step toward ensuring security and equality for all people in this country. I look forward to continued work with Congress and the White House to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell and the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. Americans realize that these outdated policies hurt our national and domestic security, while doing nothing to protect families in our country. By repealing these misguided laws, President Obama and Congress will show again their continuing commitment to the security and equality of all American families.