Last night was our second take ACTION! class and one of the questions they were left to ponder was: “what is your advocacy passion?” One of the former facilitators often referred to herself as the “reluctant advocate” and in an interview I did with her stated: “when you wake up to the fact that you need to be an advocate and you can be and advocate then all of a sudden you’re advocating everywhere you go.” I feel that this is very true.
When studying for my MA in Applied Linguistics we covered awareness raising in the context of learning grammar when studying a second language, the premise being that if you show a grammatical concept instead of using drills and repetition the learner will “notice” the topic in everyday life, making it more meaningful. I see this concept in action in the advocacy world. Once you get a topic, concept or idea that interests you there are suddenly opportunities everywhere to make your voice heard or to educate others about the topic. I once read an article about abuse and misuse of disabled parking spots. I never really paid attention to these parking places because I didn’t drive, nor do I have a pass to use for these spots. But, after I read this article I was suddenly more aware of people parking in the lined off areas beside the spots, I would look for a tags or hangtags and saw the misuse all over the place, had I not read that article I may have never paid attention to this rampant problem. Another time I got frustrated while dining out with a friend because the menu was too small to read and they didn’t have larger print versions. A few weeks later the friend remarked that she noticed that many restaurants had menus with tiny print and had actually requested that, if the establishment printed these in house, that they make some that were larger. Many of these places were open to doing this.
Sometimes it’s through this “noticing” that we become impassioned, other times there may be something that we’ve always held in high esteem. I, personally, have always been a pretty vocal self-advocate, and became involved in a number of other issues as I was exposed to them through studies and life experience. Supporting the arts, fighting for a school in Hawai’i to keep it’s cultural admissions policy, these are all things that I am passionate about. Independent Living, after I learned what it is, was added to my list of advocacy causes. What are your advocacy passions? Are you still discovering them? Do you think you are or could be a “reluctant advocate?”