Does it feel like there’s a different social cause trending every two weeks?
The recent onslaught of passionate protests can certainly make it feel that way. But street passion alone is not enough to result in policy change. Advocacy is more than just joining a march, signing a petition or writing a social media post.
So, how do you transform advocacy into policy?
Panthers recently joined a dialogue facilitated by student advocates Emelie Jimenez and Joshua Mandall to discuss effective ways to further social change. The workshop was part of FIU’s first Social Justice Summit held at Biscayne Bay Campus.
Organized by the Office of Social Justice & Inclusion, the summit was a one-day conference open to students, faculty and staff to gain knowledgeable insights from social justice change-makers on the path forward to a collective journey.
“You don’t have to be in a position of power to make [effect] change, but you need to know how to get your story across,” said, Jimenez, Miami’s IGNITE Fellow and founder of BC Community Project, an organization dedicated to providing the homeless community housing and resources.
These five steps will help you drive social change forward:
1. Know your facts. After you’ve identified an issue that you’re passionate about, do your research. Look at both sides of the argument and make sure that you have concrete information. It’s really easy to come across misinformation so be sure to fact check.
2. Listen to the people you want to help. Be an attentive listener and talk to the people who have been personally impacted by the issue for which you’re advocating. Bring their stories to light in a way that other people will become aware and understand the problem.
3. Engage with the community. Besides being informed, you must create traction. And to do so, you need a group of people who support your issue and will help you create a movement. Social media is a huge factor to help you get supporters, so is speaking to influential individuals including your professors, local representatives, and community members.
4. Build relationships. Foster relationships within your community. Get to know your mayor, commissioner and local policymakers. You can help them become aware of a need or problem. Sometimes the only bit of information they’ll ever get about the issue is what you provide.
5. Don’t give up. Remember, it’s going to take some time. You can’t just show up once or twice and expect change. You have to be patient and consistent.
Learn more about the programs offered by the Office of Social Justice & Inclusion on the website or stop by the office at MMC (GC 216) or BBC (WUC 255).