It’s easy to be the little bird chirping about good news and fun times. It’s hard to understand how to communicate when things don’t go as planned. Even more difficult is trying to navigate how to speak about relationships or events that were painful. It’s been a difficult (and at times quite amazing) year. Throughout that time I’ve been advised to remain silent on several events. Abstractly, there’s two problems with that approach: silence isolates you and takes you out of the larger conversation – takes away your momentum along with any perspective, but it also removes the possibility of a larger dialogue that could mean advancing how a community handles difficult situations. After all, if no one speaks up, there’s nothing to fix. Personally it is also very socially isolating to go from being an outspoken advocate to getting very quiet. That doesn’t feel good.
When you’re a child, people tell you to speak up because others will come to your aid; but as an adult you’re subject to the social norms that can backfire if you’re not in the dominant group. Generally the financial decision makers and those that play a good political game. That’s where emotional vs rational decisions get made.
I believe in radical acceptance. Which as an activist is maybe something of a spiritual conflict. The line for me is that we should work to improve the lives of all people, animals and the environment – but when something bad happens – well, just keep going. Our goal is ultimately to be happy while doing no harm and being the best at what we care about.
And that’s why I’ve been so down. I don’t feel that I can keep doing what I care about. It’s hard to look at the projects that I’ve loved so much and realize that it’s just not working. Or that it could turn around, but that I need help and being quiet about things isn’t the best way to do that.
How do you ask for help?
Even in non-profit bicycle advocacy there’s the stress to appear as if everything is super professional. To go after grant money, you should have an office, staff, audit records. The old horse before the cart irony.
There’s a reason why we need cheerleaders: momentum, people and excitement are the non-rational drivers behind everything. I’m a ditch digger and while I can talk on stage, I don’t have the personality of a pied-piper. But I need those people – sometimes just to look past my OCD of making sure that everything’s going mostly as planned.
If I could make 3 wishes:
- I’d want to be invited to more dinner parties, backcountry bike/hike trips, slumber parties and pool/beach time. Because being happy and chilling out with people is the most important thing we can do.
- That instead of thinking of new ideas, people would act on ways to make things happen. Most of the time that’s fundraising. Or spreadsheets.
- Share without fear. Collaborate radically.
Perhaps no one reads these. I look at the web traffic and see that TBW still gets good results from Helmet Reviews and other practical articles. But it’s been a little while since that was the focus and using the blog as a press/event announcement platform seems kinda… boring?
I struggle with what to do with this blog. For years it’s been a fun outlet for talking about things that few were addressing. Now a new urbanism blog, womens development team, transportation non-profit spring up everyday to advance transportation bicycling in American cities or getting more women riding. Maybe I’m not needed there. And my intellectual focus has shifted. I’m pondering the non-profit sector and it’s challenges. But unlike being a rogue individual who cares about bikes, it’s a lot more political to cry about non-profit issues. And as I get older issues of equality around women’s rights and socio-economic inequality. BORING. Or is it? In an age where everyone just wants to see a picture, I’m thinking in essays. Oh dear.
And that takes more time to create as well as read. But are blogs relevant in the facebook age anyway? Isn’t it better to rely on keyword searches to gear reviews and hot events? Meh, I’ll leave that to someone else.