Summer SAVY 2016 (Session 3, Day 4) – Fantasies of Change
Today we change agents turned our attention to action: how do we implement our values and utilize our resources to achieve our goals and change the world? We first focused on framing our issues, or using particular words, phrases, slogans, etc., to present our issue so that it’s in keeping with a perspective that will persuade others to support our cause. Framing builds on the reality that words and ideas matter, shaping how we understand the world – and whether or not we agree with a cause. With the song “Popular” from the hit musical Wicked as a reminder that sometimes, the way something is viewed can make a difference, we thought about how best to present our collective actions. A few Nashville-based collective action examples revealed how one issue can be framed in several ways, each geared towards attracting the support of a different constituency or generating a particular understanding of the issue. We wrapped up our consideration of this cultural tactic as groups selected frames for their collective actions and created slogans, signs, and even press releases using those frames. But a Fantasy of Change reading cautions us: just as both sides of the wizarding war in Harry Potter have magic, so too do groups supporting both sides of an issue have the ability to frame it for the public. Whose perspective will prevail?
After lunch, we shifted to focus on all collective tactics. Tactics fall into several broad (and sometimes overlapping) categories, including institutional, political, nonviolent, artistic & cultural, social & relational, and active. We discussed each category, recognizing that there are many tactics – or methods employed by a collective action to achieve its goals – that a collective action can use. How, then, are tactics chosen? We learned that they must take into account the context, resources, goals, and values of the group, rather than being chosen at random. Each group then worked to find that delicate balance in selecting their own collective action tactics. Our day concluded with students reading a chapter from Ender’s Game, learning about the use of tactics in the battle room and the importance of practicing to implement tactics well.
Tomorrow we’ll reinforce that message by considering historical documents from the Civil Rights Movement that were used to train those involved in nonviolent civil disobedience. We’ll also get a glimpse into the experience of activist and Congressman John Lewis through his graphic novel March!, which is about his time in the Nashville sit-ins. Those who joined the lunch counter protests in Nashville didn’t do so without learning the principles of nonviolence – after all, continuing to love even when attacked takes practice, patience, and work! And speaking of work, we also look forward to welcoming Lonnell Matthews, former Nashville City Councilman and now a part of the Mayor’s office, to hear more about how success is measured and work continued in the face of difficulty and setbacks.