Saturday, February 21, 2009

Social Justice for Social Moms: LTE workshop

I had the most wonderful experience with my neighborhood letter-writing group today. Five women- all moms- gathered together to take on a new challenge. Instead of our usual formula of discussing a topic for an hour before writing to our members of Congress about it, the group took the first step toward becoming media advocates by writing letters to the editor. It was incredible!

I had written an op-ed about the $5 billion shortfall the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria will soon be facing because donor nations - including the U.S.- are backing out of their commitments. Our group seized upon the topic with great enthusiasm. Handwritten letters to our reps and senators were cranked out quickly and then the real work began. It was like the workshop I never had when I was struggling to learn to write LTE’s by myself at home alone in the middle of the night! The thing that really amazed me was the way 3 different people (one had to leave and will write later) took the same information, talking points, and coaching to apply it in completely different ways.

Julie was filled with the moral aspects of the issue. Her tone is strong, American, and proud in a way that mine never is. She taps into her passions very easily. I’ve appreciated that about her personality and now I appreciate it in her writing. She placed her personal commitment firmly in her call-to-action line by saying, “I have written my members of Congress” before urging everyone to do the same. Why didn’t I ever think of that? I’m always so worried about word count that I probably would have chickened out of saying it anyway for fear of losing space for sometimes not-so-inspiring facts.

Kate attacked the exercise like her son playing a video game. As a teacher, she has a great appreciation of language and communicating well. She immediately knocked out 192 words using an a statistic comparing the needed funding ($1 billion in 2009) to the Christmas bonuses given to Meryll Lynch execs after the bailout (3.6 billion) that is intellectual, shocking and timely. The constraint of staying under 150 words was a great challenge that she relished.

Sondra, ever practical and ever giving, saw the brilliant and simple opportunity to offer readers different ways to help. She invited them to do anything to help the Global Fund from writing members of Congress to making direct individual contributions – she even provided the website – to using a Starbucks (RED) card. I loved watching her satisfaction as she hit her word count exactly.

I’m so happy we took this step together as a group. It was eye-opening for me and I feel more energetic about my own writing…seeing more possibilities as I learn from the energy and experiences of my friends.

No comments: