Eyes Open Wide At the Table
The energy and vibrancy of NetRoots Nation continues to reverberate through this medium. This all encompassing event of social justice and progressive politics gives this forum pause to ponder the energy level, passion and enthusiasm around local activities. Over the past year we've seen some demonstrations of rallying in the troops as folks took to the state capitol over radical legislation.
Some cite that locales or venues often preclude participation, yet I counter that if some one is truly interested in being involved, they should be able to express that concern to organizers while seeking transportation assistance or otherwise.
Case in point, during 2013's Mid-South Regional AIDS Conference, this forum suggested that greater participation of PLWH might be increased if transportation was provided. Yet with that element added to the entire scholarship offering, this did not result in "increased" participation or level of interest of those who did utilized the service. Most recently, Arkansas RAPPS sought to launch a series of "conversation starter" sessions in its outreach efforts around HIV awareness and linkage to care opportunities. As organizing began, again "transportation," was cited as an issue to participation at agreed venues. However upon further investigation, it was determined that despite perhaps offering that service, it couldn't be substantiated that offering assistance would enhance any level of attendance. Individuals expressed no interest in attending when an alternative plan of securing a pick up option was presented versus being offered a "gas card" option. Hence the sessions were derailed and are now being reassessed.
So what does all this mean if anything? Everett Rogers points out in his book, Diffusion of Innovations, once a certain critical mass of adoption of a new idea is reached, that idea becomes the norm. Once your public support reaches that critical mass, your issue will be, as one perceptive human service provider used to say, "like the fire department." No one will question that it ought to be a community priority, or that community resources ought to be devoted to addressing it. Sounds good, but does this work? Perhaps in some cases, but in trying to either bring folks to the policy table or keeping them engaged to understand why they need to be there has been challenging to say the least in these parts. Ultimately, what's missing is both committed and skilled individuals as to there responsibility to being apart of these tables.
Although we have some LGBT infrastructure, it is strained due to a lack of capacity and often times capturing viable resources to enhance their scalability of there mission's and visions. Even though we know we need a "fire house," except their are other priorities that often get in the way or cause us angst to build or maintain one. It seems that despite all the dollars and sense that has been expended across our area, we are still in a flux of trying to bring everyone to the table to decide what's the priority and if we are ever going to have a fire house.