Kathi speaks with author, advocate, blog guru, and co-founder of Blog Her, Elisa Camahort Page about advocacy, doing your part to make the world a better place, and how to have a civil discourse with those with whom you disagree.
In today’s episode, you will know:
- How to find your most important issues.
- How to affect change in your local area.
- How to use more than money to support your values.
- How to identify click bait / partisain reporting and avoid it.
Get the book.
To share your thoughts:
To help out the show:
- Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.
- Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our list now and never miss an episode or blog.
Transcript of this Episode
Read along with the podcast!
Communicator Academy Podcast #170
A Road Map for Revolutionaries
Kathi – Well, hey friends! Welcome to Communicator Academy, where our heart is to equip and encourage men and women to become the communicators God has created them to be. I am super excited about today’s guest. This is not somebody who has been in my sphere for very long, but a mutual friend said, “You have got to have her on!” Her name is Elisa Camahort Page and she is the author of, and I love this title. This maybe one of my top ten favorite titles of a book. Road Map for Revolutionaries: Resistance, Activism, and Advocacy for All. I love it. Elisa, welcome to Communicator Academy.
Elisa – Hi Kathi. Thank you so much for having me.
Kathi – I am so thrilled. I love the idea of your book and what you’re saying. Let me just tell you, Elisa has the chops. One of the co-founders of Blogher. Holy cow. Are you kidding me?
Elisa – Yep. That’s me.
Kathi – That? I had no idea. I’ve been to Blogher. I think most of my favorite bloggers have been to Blogher. If that does not give you street cred, I don’t know what does. I want to find out a little bit about what brought you to this place of writing a book about advocacy. I think that most of us that get into the communication game, we’re either trying to promote something (and I mean that in the best way possible), advocate for something, educate. So, for me, what I talk about on a regular basis, when I’m not talking about communication, is clutter. You wouldn’t think there’d be a lot of activism and advocacy, but I really do believe that when we understand our relationship with stuff, it changes our whole life. So, that’s where my activism and my advocacy comes in. I would love to hear a little bit about what got you down this path? Then, we’re going to talk about some tactics that our communicators can use when it comes to advocating and activism for the causes that they care about.
Elisa – Well, before Blogher, which I cofounded in 2005, I’d actually been pretty politically active in my area. I’m in the Bay area. Blogher was an omni-partisan organization. So, we really wanted to hear from all voices across the ideological spectrum. That was as speakers at our conferences and writers on our site. If I was going to be out there recruiting great people to write for our site, I really couldn’t be a really vocal partisan representative. I had to really learn a different way to communicate, that didn’t turn my back on my ideals, but fostered the kind of civil discourse, even civil disagreement, that Blogher was all about. So, I did that for twelve years. That’s the longest I’ve ever done anything. Then, it so happened that my time with Blogher, after we were acquired, started to wrap up just as the election was happening in 2016.
Kathi – I was just thinking, as you were talking about how to have conversations with people without turning your back on your ideals, but how to foster that communication. For such a time as this. Holy cow. Right? When you can’t have a civil conversation, it seems, with anybody outside of your own head. Now, I’m dying to know more about this.
Elisa – I noticed two things after the election. People were super fired up. People who had never been political before, or talking about social issues. Suddenly, everybody was talking about it. But, I was concerned, because they were doing it at a level of intensity that I didn’t think was sustainable. They were being whipped from issue to issue to issue in a way that didn’t seem all that healthy. They also seemed frustrated because they didn’t know where was the action? Where do decisions get made? Where does the rubber hit the road? So, they were super focused on Washington DC, but the thing is: Washington DC is a symptom of everything else that is happening around us in our communities and our states. There are so many other places to activate and make real change that you can see right in front of you; in your own workplace; in your kids’ schools; in your local government. And it’s so much more accessible to most of us. So, I wanted to do two things. I wanted to educate, like you mentioned, about how things happen. What are some great resources? And I wanted to broaden people’s perspective of where they could activate; where they could be an advocate, so they could think about more what’s happening around them. They can have a real, immediate, visible impact on in a way that will hopefully not feel as frustrating as watching what’s happening in Washington DC.
Kathi – I love that because something happens in DC and I’m either for it or against it. If I post that on Facebook, or do an Instagram, or something like that, what impact is that going to make? Almost none. But, when it comes to my local school board, or the election here in Silicon Valley? You and I have a direct impact and influence about what happens in our neighborhood. So, it’s not saying we shouldn’t be concerned about what’s going on in Washington DC, but we should know where we can make an impact. I love that idea. So, I would love to find out from you, what are some things that we, as individuals, can do when we feel passionate about a cause or about a way something is going and we want to advocate for that? What are some simple things we can do? First of all, I am getting this book. I’m coming in here cold, I just want to have the interview so I could ask my questions, but I’m already feeling like, “Okay, I need to go deeper in this.” So, I’m going to get the book, but besides that, what can I, Kathi Lipp, somebody who has very little influence when it comes to these things, what can I do?
Elisa – Well, I actually recommend five steps. The first is Triage. I am upset about 25 different things on any given day, but I can’t be an effective activist or advocate for 25 different issues. I need to pick one or two, at the most, three, on which I commit that I’m going to do the research. I’m going to dig deep. I’m going to be a leader on that issue. I’m going to let my friends know when I think something important is happening. I’m going to follow. I’m going to really work on those. I’m going to triage.
Kathi – Love it.
Elisa – It doesn’t mean I stop caring about everything else, but I identify other friends who are going to lead on other issues and I let them let me know a couple times a year when they’re all, “This is a phone call you need to make to your congressperson.” Or “This is a petition you need to sign.” I’m going to look to them to let me know, and I’m going to very much narrow what I try to be a leader on. So, Triage is number one.
Kathi – Love that.
Elisa – Number two is, any issue you’re passionate about, there are existing groups and organizations that are doing the real work, feet on the street, right now. Go join. Join with others. We feel so much more effective when we are a collective. We are a collective. We’re a community. Also, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. There are people out there that already have resources for you and information for you. I think it’s especially important to mention, when those of us who are not in a marginalized or oppressed group, want to support others that are in that group. Look for leaders within that community. If you want to support the Black community, look for Black leaders who are telling you what to do. Or Native Americans, or LGBT, or whatever your issue is that you want to support, look for the leading voices where they’re living that experience. Let them guide the way. Let them be the ones that help you, so that you’re not trying to come in and be a savior, you’re coming in and trying to be a supporter. The third step is to contribute. I don’t just mean money, ‘though I do carve out a specific percentage of my income that I give to organization and causes. I even give to GoFundMes, when someone I know knows someone who needs to pay for a medical procedure, or something. So, I do that, and that’s something we all can do, but it’s also: Where can you give your time? And where can you give your skills? If you’re a marketer, so many small non-profits could really use some help understanding PR and understanding how to get more attention to what they’re doing. Maybe understanding social media. How can you contribute what you’re good at? I always bring this up in Silicon Valley, do you have a room in your house that’s a technology graveyard, with your old scanner or iPad, or old equipment that you’re not using anymore, but it’s not trash? Almost every non-profit organization could use some of your equipment, especially office equipment. So, contribute. The fourth step is to think about, to plan a long term goal, and a couple of urgent goals. Understand yourself. Are you really triggered and most motivated by what’s most urgent today? Or do you need to work on something strategic and long term, or you’ll just go crazy? Work out a balance there, because I think most of us are somewhere in the middle. Have a thought for what’s short-term, but what’s a long-term thing you can keep working on, so that you’re not just torn every day from horrible thing to horrible thing. Then, the last one, and I think it’s a hard one for most of us, is to track your wins. It’s really, when you’re an advocate or an activist around a topic, it’s really easy to focus on what you haven’t achieved yet; how far you have to go, but it’s really motivating to stop and think about what has happened. Either what good things have happened, or what bad things have you prevented? It’s a little harder to measure the second, but it’s really important to take the win. When you’re an activist, there are a lot of losses, right? Gotta give yourself a boost. So those are my five steps that I think that any person can really apply that to whatever it is that they’re passionate about.
Kathi – Okay, I just love this in so many ways. Part of what I think that we, as communicators, want to do, each and every time, is re-invent the wheel. We want to start a new thing. A lot of us are entrepreneurs for a reason. We love to start a new thing, but there are things out there that already need our time and talents. We live half the year in the mountains and fire is the biggest concern where we live. I can go in there and give money, and we do, but the most important thing I can do is, I’m a writer. I can write the letters that get donations. I can write that letters that get press releases. I don’t have to start a new fundraiser in order to advocate for fire safety (which is about the least controversial advocacy you can do is fire safety. Who’s against fire safety, right?) But, there’s an education process. I can be a part of something that already exists and leverage my talents. Instead of using my time and resources to start something new, to come along those who are already laboring, I think it’s important what you talked about, identifying leaders, people you want to come along with, who are already part of what they are already advocating for. Finding the leaders that already exist and saying, “I don’t know enough about this to lead, so tell me what to do, so I can become a part of it.” I love that.
Elisa – Right.
Kathi – So, if we are burning in our hearts, and this advocacy is happening, if we want to get started, how do we identify those people who we should listen to? How do we use our wisdom and our discernment to understand who we should be listening to?
Elisa – What a great question, because it’s hard these days. There’s a section in the book about reputable media sources from left to right and how to identify propaganda, or potential false information. A lot of it is about the buttons it pushes. Telling the difference between journalism and false information is all about what kinds of buttons does it push? We all joke about clickbait, but it’s a thing, you know? A big section of our book is around media literacy and assessing media sources. Again, it goes from left to right. All across the spectrum. Another portion of the book is about providing resources. Where are the experts? So, I think you follow the breadcrumbs a little bit. I always give the example of, back when Ferguson was going through the police and protesting and the police response, there was a lot of really wild information scattered around Twitter about it. So, I went and found a city council person who lived in Ferguson. I found a Missouri journalist from a local newspaper. I went and found a few sources that I felt pretty sure were reputable and were there; who had their feet on the street. So, from there, I asked “Who are they retweeting? Who are they following? Okay, those seem like other reputable people.” I built a little subgroup of people I was following who I felt like I could get reasonable information from about what was happening there. I tend to do that when things are happening geographically. Where’s the local journalist? Where’s some local TV reporters? Local activists? I start there, and see who they are retweeting. A lot of how I build who I follow and think is reputable, is by finding just a couple of people and find out who they share. It’s like the old days of blogging, when you had a blogroll. People would start out reading you and see who you like and then follow them. That’s how we grew our communities. It’s very much the same about finding information. When you are looking for nonprofits, for example, I often look, “Are they a nonprofit? Are they a 501c3?” If they are, they have filings. If they are, they are probably in Charity Navigator, or one of the other assessments. If it’s a media outlet, there are a few organization that rate media outlets on how much they are fact-based, site sources, double and triple source things, stuff like that. Is this a reputable source, or is this opinion? Now, you can follow all the opinion sites as you want. I like opinion as much as the next person, but I don’t share it like it’s fact.
Kathi – Right!
Elisa – That’s the difference. There are whole lot of folk that I follow and read that I would never reshare their stuff as though to say, “This is what’s happening.” Because it’s just confirmation bias. I like to read people who agree with me to go, “Yeah!” but I don’t share it like it’s data.
Kathi – It was so interesting, just this morning. I know this is not a new revelation, but it hit me so squarely this morning. I clicked on something on Twitter, and it happened to be an opinion I didn’t share. Somebody was sharing it and saying, “Look at what this moron is doing.” So, I clicked on it to read it, then I started to read everything that was after that. It was just reinforcement of the same idea. When you go to Twitter, and you look for something, you’re going to find it.
Elisa – Yes! And I actually recommend reading what people who disagree with you think. It’s good to know what people who don’t agree with you think.
Kathi – This is something my husband and I have taken to is, we watch the news every night. We’re like an old married couple. That’s what we do. But what we’ve decided is, we don’t watch the same news every night. So, we go from the most conservative to the most liberal. We would love news to not be biased, but it’s just not true. It’s also understanding other people’s pain and why they report the things they do; why they follow the things they do. By understanding that, we can have a better conversation with the people we don’t necessarily agree with.
Elisa – That’s so interesting. I’ve taken the exact opposite tactic. I don’t watch television news at all because, to me, most of it is argument not analysis or news. It makes me very agitated. I don’t need to watch it to be informed. One of the things I always point out to people is that, you don’t have to. Civil discourse is great, but you are allowed to set your boundaries around it. I don’t block or mute very many people, but I know when someone is trolling me, verses when someone’s really interested in conversation. I have no patience for it. It’s not my job. I’ve decided, my role in this world is not to carry on long conversations with people whose minds I could never change. I leave that to other people. I’m not trying to convert anyone. I’m not trying to get the last word or make my argument stick. I provide information and opinion for people who want it and that’s my role. I know other people who are great at it. They’ll have these long, extended conversations, but it would just not be good for my blood pressure, which I’m already trying to keep down. I got to set my own boundaries. There are just limits for me. That’s how I conduct myself online and that’s how I interact with others. Everybody’s boundaries can be different. You don’t have to follow my boundaries. You can have different boundaries. I think we forget that we, not only control what we say online, we control what we consume. If you are having a miserable time in your online spaces, at the end of the day, you have control. Block people. Mute people. Stop following people who make you miserable. There is really no point. You can always still go look if you want to get the opposing view, but you are not required to be miserable to be online. I’m not miserable. I have a lovely time online 99% of the time.
Kathi – Me too! If you win one little argument, but lose your soul? It’s not worth it. Elisa, this is such good stuff. Road Map for Revolutionaries: Resistance, Activism, and Advocacy for All. Thank you so much for being on Communicator Academy.
Elisa – You’re welcome, Kathi. It was my pleasure to be here.
Kathi – Guys, we will put a link to the book, which I suggest all of you get. Also, for the website, RoadMapforRevolutionaries.com. Go check out how you can become a better advocate for the things you care about. Friends, you have been listening to Communicator Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp. You’ve been given the best message in the world. Now, go live it.
*see show notes in podcast post above for any mentioned item
Meet Your Hosts
Elisa Camahort Page
CEO of Cygnus and all-around amazing woman
Author, Speaker, Communicator Academy Creator and CEO
Author, Speaker, Mastermind Coach