I was amazed how a BLM protest could end up creating the conditions for a counter-protest and possibly even politicizing a group of people who may have never engaged in a political demonstration otherwise. While everyone was congratulating me on a great event, I was privately wondering if the most significant impact we had was to energize and mobilize people on the opposite side who might otherwise have stayed home. That was the last demonstration I organized. Ever since then, I’ve been trying to make sense of what happened.
I think there is a time and place for this model of activism. But it’s being overused, and on the whole, I don’t think it’s working. There have to be some alternatives. I don’t claim to have the answers. But I would really like to be a part of a conversation around this.
We need to start organizing–really organizing, not just mobilizing. Mobilizing is short-term, high-energy, and tends to focus on self-expression and symbolic action. Organizing is long-term, harder, and not as sexy. Mobilizing creates spectacles. Organizing creates community.
Last month, I had the real pleasure of talking with Patrick Farnsworth again, host of the Last Born in the Wilderness podcast. You can listen to the interview here.