After meeting with Cathy Fleisher, an expert in advocacy in education, I was able to broaden my ideas surrounding advocacy and the ways in which I am able to act to cause change. I greatly appreciated much of the things she talked about, specifically centering around the advocacy we are able to create and the broad horizon to which is applies. The central idea in all of her ideas about advocacy is Community Organization, something that shows the joining together of a community toward a greater goal of change. It is key that there is a sense of unity and alliance in order to make change possible. This idea bled into the concept of Everyday Advocacy. It matters to know what you can do in your community and make those small changes. The small changes are the ones that are able to bleed into the larger changes.
Cathy also spoke of having patience, as much of the issues we are passionate about are lifelong journeys. It is easy to become frustrated, using one tactic after the next, without causing any true change, or using them as a way to claim advocacy doesn’t work if one tactic fails. Really, it is about setting both short term and long term goals and being proud when those goals are met. It is okay if we aren’t able to fully meet our goals or change the world.
The biggest takeaway from this meeting with Cathy is that involvement is key in all aspects of advocacy. You must learn how to involve yourself in the community you are surrounded by, understand what that community needs to hear in order to gain them as allies, and then act. Change small things that will lead to bigger things. Beyond that, understand that advocacy and being an ally go hand in hand much of the time. You will sometimes need to be the voice of a movement or sometimes be an ally to such a movement.
Know the situation, know your cause, and act.
If you can do this, you are well on your way to becoming an advocate for the profession.