The Stop Bullying Coalition started as an effort to gather support for a new legal framework to protect people living with age and/or disability. Many people are not even aware of the terrible impact of bullying in these groups.We have few resources, we are few but not yet connected to a broad constituency, so how can we win? I am reaching out to all of you to seek your ideas and collaboration. And I have been looking for examples of how leadership, organization, and strategy have achieved success. Others have gone from weakness to strength and to victory.
Marshall Ganz writes about the success of the farm worker movement in his book, Why David Sometimes Wins: Leadership: organization and strategy in the California farm worker movement. He frames his narrative with the victory of David over Goliath. Armed only with his staff, five stones, and his slingshot, and motivated by his faith, David defeated a heavily armed giant.
The farm worker movement sought rights for poor migrants, struggling against great economic and political power. The movement succeeded because it used a civil rights approach and reached out to people using affiliations of religion, ethnicity, and politics, and it mobilized a consumer boycott of grapes.
Ganz points to the importance of bringing together a diverse leadership team that is highly motivated, that works together to reach decisions without squelching minority opinions, and that is creative and constantly learning and developing tactics that respond to the opportunities of the moment. And the leadership must be accountable to the constituents.
That is why we need a broad coalition, and leaders who can work together bringing a variety of experiences and perspectives to solve the problems.
Some of the challenges include:
- What is the best way to frame the struggle? Perhaps see it as a struggle for our rights as citizens, as tenants, as elders, and as people living with disability.
- How can we create a broad constituency of individuals, and organizations; and engage the public through religious, ethnic, political groups?
- What can we expect from professional associations of people that serve the elderly and disabled (social work, mental health, etc.)?
- Can we engage managers and owners of subidized buildings?
- How can we engage organizations dedicated to elders, the disability community, and groups that speak for residents of subsidized housing? How can we reach out to residents?
I look forward to your comments and ideas. Please write. [email protected]