by Anthony Corona
The issues are plenty and varied, the advocacy is strong in theory, and we all seem to have opinions or strategies, yet it often does not translate into action. Last year as chairperson of the convention planning committee for BPI and in my other leadership roles, I have learned how difficult it is to inspire action. There is no shortage of issues — we have plenty — but it’s boots on the ground, fingers on the keys we really need.
This White Cane Day, I implore us to look past a day to highlight our community and infuse ourselves to take that spirit from one day to many.
The importance of this day and what it represents to the world about our community is so very important, but the work that needs to be done cannot survive with participation for a week in the winter and summer and on a few scattered days in between. I challenge us all to take the spirit of White Cane Day and use it on Arbor Day, April Fool’s Day, Grandparents Day and maybe even National Ice Cream Day.
Being a part of a grass-roots advocacy organization comes with the opportunity to learn, add your voice to the chorus, and take the advocacy from the personal to the communal. This means that sometimes getting into the fray is necessary.
It means recognizing that we are stronger in voice and choice together than we are solitary. It means that we sometimes need to step out of our comfort zone to accomplish or at least be heard. It means that we need more action and commitment.
I am not suggesting that we all need to be advocating all day, every day, but some of the time spent complaining and pondering can be more effectively used by taking the initiative to attend committee and chapter meetings, picking an issue or two, and signing that proverbial clipboard roster, rolling up our sleeves and getting to work.
Whether it’s audio description, guide dog denials, voting, transportation or the myriad of issues facing our community, there is no shortage of working groups here in ACB. And there are state and special-interest affiliates that are always looking for a few good minds, hearts and hands. I dare to suggest that any personal interest can be met somewhere in our organization’s advocacy efforts. I propose that the seasoned leaders and advocates would love not only more hands on deck, but would relish the opportunity to pass on their knowledge, and I daresay most would be open to new ideas.
We often hear that it’s not easy to learn how to advocate, how to get our voices heard, and as a member who is still relatively new to this organization I agree, with this caveat: If we do not step in, ask around and be ready to learn, make mistakes and get a little dirty, it will always stay this way. I can guarantee that any seasoned advocate will reminisce on when they were green and maybe even scared to step into that arena. Isn’t the first step always the scariest?
So I call ACB members to action. I implore each of us to pick an issue or two and jump into the action. We all want change, to better our situations, but we all must be willing to take a share of the work needed to get it done. We all should take pride in being a member of an organization like ACB and the good work it has accomplished and all the great work that could be done with more of us in the mix. I call to us all to give a little more of our time to the work instead of the social and let’s show ACB, the greater community and the USA itself what the blind and low vision folks of this organization can accomplish. Together we can do great things!