Great things are done by a series of small things, brought together. ~Vincent Van Gogh
It doesn’t happen often, but on occasion life gets in the way.
The best laid plans are often thwarted by a six-year-old, and time slips by like sand through my fingertips sometimes.
So today’s anecdote will be a short one, but one that I think will resonate with a lot of you.
Right after the 2016 election, when the air was electric and we were all gaining our footing, a collective of national action groups formed. It was an exciting, energetic collaborative group – sharing actions, information, ideas and energy.
I was thrilled – humbled – honored – to be included among this group of thinkers and innovators.
Which is why I was sideswiped during one of that fairly large group’s conference calls.
We were discussing how to be most effective – ideas that folks had about coming into our own. And some guy (it’s always some guy, isn’t it?) who was smart, and accomplished, and younger and Ivy League educated, piped up and said something to the effect of:
“Doing little things here and there and having these small organizations isn’t going to really do anything – we all need to team up and combine into bigger organizations. We’re just doing nothing if we aren’t … bigger. It’s a waste of time.”
I recall feeling like he was scoffing at groups that weren’t actively trying to team up – that doing anything on a small basis was somehow irrelevant.
I took it incredibly personally.
In fact, I was rendered speechless (I am never rendered speechless) and almost embarrassed – was I so insignificant?
Was what I was doing so … unimportant?
It left me pondering for days.
After that call I heard that another group leader was abandoning her efforts at organizing her small group – “What’s the use?” was her general feeling. I always wondered if her decision to abandon her group had been informed by that guy’s comments.
How many people could she have touched had she not given up? How many people could she have inspired?
How many lives could she have improved – including her own – had she just kept going?
Hey – big organizations can obviously have a big impact. But often those groups become corporatized with bloated over-edited and overly-cautious messages, and they lose the nimble creativity that often made them special and unique to begin with.
And so now, with the benefit of two years of hindsight, I can see his points.
But I can also see all of the benefits of remaining small. Of being focused. Of being … ourselves.
Perhaps that’s why I’m a rabid defender of the small groups. The coffee-shop-meeters. The I’ll-swing-by-when-I-drop-the-kids-at-school organizations.
Because we’re so damn real.
And everything we do is full of authenticity, and urgency, and passion.
And a whole lotta love.
Here’s a fist bump and a high five to all of us who are still out there, being small and kicking *ss.
Let’s do this thing.
Tuesday: Step Away From the TV!
Tonight, the Tweeter-in-Chief will address the nation from the Oval Office. Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer will then provide a counter-statement (because we’re in an alternate reality where we know he’ll spew so many lies that … well … we need someone to set the record straight).
So this is less an action, and more a plea for you to save your sanity and not watch. Not because that’s somehow going to impact ratings, but because I care about your mental health. Nothing that he says is going to be surprising, because it’s all surprising.
I’m planning to clean my fridge in protest. My time is better spent throwing away leftover food than listening to him.
Wednesday: Dust Off Those Phones!
As you’ve no doubt heard, the ongoing government shutdown is causing real pain for many of our fellow Americans (many of you no doubt included in that group).
It’s incredibly important to not only understand – but to convey to our networks – that the Democratic House passed the SAME funding legislation that the Senate had passed in the last session in their first day of leadership.
Repeat: the Democratic House passed the Republican-held Senate’s OWN BILL, and sent it back to them.
Here’s what happened. On December 19th, by a voice vote the Senate passed a bill that would have continued funding for the government through February 8, 2019. That bill did not – DID NOT – include border wall funding. The bill then went to the then-GOP led House – which tinkered with it by adding $5.7 billion for a border wall.
The Senate – the GOP-held Senate – did not take that bill back up.
Let me repeat: the GOP-majority Senate did not put the House-amended bill on the floor for a vote because they knew that the new version that included border wall funding would not pass.
This is not a problem created by Democrats.
Mitch McConnell is refusing to bring the bill that his GOP-majority chamber passed less than a month ago to the floor, because Trump said he’s not going to sign anything that doesn’t include funding for a wall.
The current Democratic-led House is trying to fix the problem the GOP has caused by simply passed the very same legislation the GOP-led Senate drafted and passed less than a month ago.
DO NOT let the press or confused Facebook posters get you to question Dems on this point. So please continue to share the facts on this. We’re not obstructing.
We must – must – do what we can to encourage our Senators to pass the funding and re-open government.
Script: Hi, my name is ____ and I’m a constituent at ____. People are hurting because of this government shutdown. What is the Senator doing to resolve the shutdown? (If your Senator is a GOP Senator and was an active Senator in the last Congress: I’m curious – did Senator _____ vote in favor of the Continuing Resolution during the voice vote that happened in the Senate on December 19? If so, then why won’t he/she vote in favor of that same language now? What happened between then and now, other than another death of a migrant asylum-seeking child in U.S. custody?)
Thursday: Don’t Blow It
If you haven’t heard of it, Craftivist Collective is a wonderful UK group that uses crafts to expose injustice, and as political action. As they say, “A spoonful of craft helps the activism go down.”
In their craft-ivist archives is a great project that just feels right for our newly-elected Democratic leaders.
The “Don’t Blow It” embroidered handkerchief.
Now, you don’t have to be handy with a needle and thread – a permanent marker or a fabric pen would do just fine. Hankies are fairly easy to find – if you just have a bit of spare scrap fabric that would do fine, too. Heck – you could even bring a box of tissue to the office!
The point is to make the message memorable. On your hankie, or on your box of tissues, write why you don’t want them to blow it. It could be climate. (Maybe a green hankie!) It could be women’s reproductive rights. (That’s a pink one for sure!) Governmental ethics, healthcare reform – or just protecting our nation. A short message culminating with a big “Don’t blow it!” will do the trick.
And I don’t think they’ll forget it.
So this week, rather than calling your new Democratic legislator and telling them that you want them to keep the faith, consider making a personalized hankie to remind them that we’re counting on them.
Friday: Apply for the Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training!
Been wondering how you can make a difference with the climate change movement? Consider applying for the The Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training in Atlanta in March. The Climate Reality Project holds three-day trainings for people from all walks of life who want to learn:
- The science of climate change
- How it’s transforming daily life for people around the world
- The solutions in our hands today
- Powerful storytelling, public speaking, and social media networking techniques
- Media engagement strategies
- Best practices in grassroots organizing
- How activists like you are building momentum for solutions worldwide
Trainings are free of charge (but you have to pay for transportation and lodging) but you do have to apply. Here’s the link to do that! https://www.climaterealityproject.org/training?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=CRinATL&utm_content=toolkit
P.S.: Yes! Some of you have asked if I write for a living, and the answer is “I sure do!” Visit www.mhornish.com to learn more.
P.P.S.: If you want to help support this work you can do so via Patreon at
https://www.patreon.com/smalldeedsdone or via paypal at https://www.paypal.me/smalldeeds
My deepest gratitude in advance.
P.P.P.S: Why don’t you make someone’s day and send this pep talk to a friend or two? I bet they need it.
If you’d like to sign up to get this pep talk and action list in your in-box each week, you can do that here. Welcome, friend!
Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. I read and respond to every e-mail. (Really! I really do!) We’re in this together. Don’t you forget it.
2 thoughts on “The Benefits of Being Small”
Just found your website! Wow! Thank you.
I was thinking of trying to do a form of chain letter for support or triggering activism. There is so much out there. A Chalk Draw In – In Front of City Hall or the White House?
Sending politicians thank you notes and to their staffs.
A Buddy System for those afraid to venture out alone.
Coaching on making phone calls!
The Dating 5 minute thing what about that for causes and charities and make it inter generational for families and others.
Going out to places like Nursing Homes to help get out the vote or engage them in helping out. Same with disabled groups. Your local Sight Center ect….,
Food truck and Voter Registration?
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Thanks, Mary! I love all of your creative ideas – it’s this kind of thinking that has kept us going, and that will propel us through the next phase. And while I think all of your ideas are interesting and worth pursuing, I particularly love pairing food trucks and voter registration. Brilliant! Let me know when/how you get that going!