I’m terrible at improv, but I love one of the golden rules behind it.
The idea that you don’t block what somebody else is saying, but instead accept it and move the story forward with your own contribution.
We need to be a “yes, and…” movement right now. We need to be throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks. We need to all be dreaming and scheming and working to build this beautiful resistance that’s emerging.
It belongs to all of us and it’s going to take all of us to succeed. No single person or group has all the answers. We should all be thinking up new ideas and supporting those around us trying to join the fight.
But I’m worried about burnout. And I’m worried our usual structures of operating aren’t going to give us the latitude we need to fully flex our creative muscles. In the nonprofit space, we’re stuck thinking in our usual patterns.
List growth, media hits, email optimization, policy documents, social media engagement, press releases, vote counts. These things are important, but they aren’t what turned out 3 million people for the Women’s March or sparked resistance at airports all around the country.
The other thing about improv is it takes commitment. I’ve been thinking a lot about what that means and how we can create space for more lasting commitments.
Here’s a thought experiment:
- What if every individual committed 5% of their income to a local organization building local resilience or resisting Trump’s agenda?
- What if every employer opposed to the Trump administration gave employees 20% of their time to spend building the resistance in whatever way they thought best?
- What if, for every 5 angry Facebook posts, we took the time to have a conversation – in-person or over the phone – with somebody in our life who supports Trump?
- What if everybody agreed to go to at least one local democratic party meeting and considered getting involved, despite the problems with our two-party system and electoral politics?
Would any of these commitments change where this train is headed? Maybe, maybe not.
I don’t think there’s one silver bullet that’ll solve our current situation, but I do think we need to be trying new things, making hard commitments to this fight, and saying “yes, and…” a whole lot more.