This morning, I had coffee with a friend who is a mom, a lawyer and a constituent of mine. She also happens to be a woman who, with a group of other women who had supported John Kerry in Ohio only to see his candidacy fall short, formed what is now what I would consider to be the preeminent women’s caucus in our region if not our state, the Cuyahoga Democratic Women’s Caucus.
Although she is perpetually, like so many of us, in the midst of several other very time-sensitive situations that demand her attention, we made ourselves find time to sit down together to talk about an issue that is identical to what I believe the Moms Clean Air Force is all about: getting people to care, notice and take action, at whatever level they can muster, in regard to issues we believe are critical to not only our quality of life, but our children’s and our children’s children’s quality of life. For my friend and I, this issue is getting women into public service, politics and positions of leadership. And equally vital to me is the MCAF end goal of taking action and moving others to take action in order to guarantee no backsliding and only forward motion in protecting our environment, primarily in the MCAF case, clean air.
How do we do this, my friend and I asked – how do we get women to care about politics, let alone consider running for office? As we were trying to brainstorm (in between getting sidetracked onto a number of other topics that excite us), it occurred to me that this question is very similar to the questions we ask ourselves in the MCAF effort: what can we tell you that will compel you?
I find that many kinds of input and exposure to lots of different kinds of information can be a catalyst and this week was no different. I participated in a webinar about clean air that, with a few different multimedia tools and live people from whom we could hear fuller explanations about problems and solutions, has really stuck with me.
Documentaries work this way too – think about how you felt when you first saw Roger and Me or An Inconvenient Truth, anything about 9/11 or something about the Holocaust. Or maybe it’s a first-hand nonfiction story you’ve read about an account of something in history, recent or way in the past.
What lately has stuck with you about our air? For me, it has got to be the findings this week about the Massey Energy company’s reckless disregard for the safety of its mines and those who work in them – and by extension all the individuals who rely on those workers.
In this effort to tell and compel (my way of referring to it at least), I see MCAF as hoping that all individuals, but especially parents and in particular moms will take that extra minute, half hour or whatever they can during a day, a week or a month to not only consider what they can do about protecting our clean air, but how can we compel others to tell why they realize it matters.
In regard to the effort with women and politics, I hope that, along with at least one other friend, we will continue to have small, local but regular gatherings to help people evolve in their ideas about public service and about seeking public service themselves. Likewise, we can all evolve what we’re doing in regard to our environment. Finally being able to open my windows today after so many days of rain and cold weather, felt like an act of recognition about the importance of my environment to me.
Things don’t always have to be grand actions. What story, what narrative can you tell that would compel you and others to realize how critical it is for us to take care of our air? For more ideas, please visit the MCAF blog.