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Results and Retrospective March 6, 2009

Posted by aufderhr in Uncategorized.
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Monday we had our last event which marked the end of our official “social movement.”  This movie showing was the culmination of a series of events including a weeklong letter-writing campaign and a volunteer day.  The success of our events varied.  In my opinion the volunteer day was the most successful.  For this event we were only looking to recruit between six and eight people.  However, though it was the event that involved the least number of people—between finding a location to volunteer at, coordinating dates, organizing transportation, organizing lunch, and all the other little details that go along with this—it took the most time to organize.  Even with all the stress of organization, the satisfaction of spending a few hours to help out a shelter made this event by far the most rewarding.

Our letter-writing campaign was also pretty successful.  We got over a hundred letters signed and send to different Minnesota representatives and senators—this made for a sizable stack of papers. However, the problem with a letter writing campaign is that we cannot be sure what the impact will be.

Our movie showing was less successful.  In a large part this was because it was out last event and was on a busy Monday night.  We had started advertising earlier the week before for the volunteering event and by the time this event came around our movement had lost steam.  It is hard to sustain advertising and momentum at Carleton.  There is so much going on that events can be easily overshadowed if there is not a final push.

Primarily because of our volunteer event I would call our movement a success.  It was not a broad event—only three other people aside from us came—but these people formed a much stronger attachment to the movement and received a greater personal benefit than if they had only come to see a movie.  For example, one of the volunteers asked if the shelter would be interested in hosting a performance by his improv group sometime next term.  As Jeff Blodgett informed us, there are three options—fast, broad, and deep—and you can only pick two.  By design we had to organize the volunteer project quickly, but it seems that we were able to mobilize a few volunteers who are excited to participate in the future.

In regards to the future of the movement, I hope we will be able to continue to some extent in future terms.  We have already done the work of establishing a contact with one of the shelters and they said they would happy to have us back.  Hopefully this will make organizing a volunteer event easier in the future.  I have also been talking to people in Carleton’s GSC to suggest expanding the GSC volunteer work and community involvement.  If we can create a group of volunteers who is really interested in doing this in the future, and gain some institutional support for the GSC or ACT then maybe we can make something more sustainable.

If I were redoing this movement one thing I would change was how we organized the movie.  I think it would have been best if we had the movie during the week we were tabling and before the volunteer day while the advertising momentum was stronger.  I think this ordering would have better served the flow of the momentum.  This was our original plan but due to scheduling issues we had to shift the order.  The other thing I plan differently would be to establish a better division of labor.  Part of the inequality in the division of labor was due to an underestimation about the amount of work some tasks would take, but we also did not establish clear responsibilities.

On a separate note, today were the class presentations of our movement experiences.  As one group discussed how they had dealt with the possibility of counter movements, I realized that this was a discussion our group had never had.  In some ways that is surprising because movements around LGBT issues can be so contentious.  However, in other ways it makes sense.  For starters, we were organizing primarily at Carleton College.  While there is by no means 100% support for LGBT issues, the overall campus climate supports these issues.  A countermovement would have been more surprising then the lack of one.  Secondly, though our original issue was LGBT issues, because of our work with shelters and the MN Runaway and Homeless Youth act, our topic gradually because more centered on homelessness.  “Homelessness” as an issue is unlikely to spawn a direct countermovement.  While people might not support funding homeless support programs, rarely are people pro-homelessness.  I just mention this because I find it extremely interesting to note that we were organizing in an environment where I never even considered the possibility of countermovement until another group suggested it.  This is a dramatic reflection on the type of climate we were mobilizing in.

Ruth

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