Advocacy Lessons

Aretha knows

October 4, 2011   Comments Off on Aretha knows

In my opinion, it’s one of the best songs ever recorded. I’m talking about Aretha Franklin’s hit, “Respect.”  Shall I pause while you sing a few bars?

Respect it’s a mutual thing, something one has to earn, essential to any functioning and successful team, organization, democracy.  Now that it’s defined, we must decide if it is still observed.

I’m one who carries strong opinions and views; yet, I also am open and want to hear another persons views. While a pastor in a local church setting, I often expressed to my flock, “My office door is open. I am willing to listen, talk and discuss with you any topic.  All I ask is that you bring more than hate and rhetoric.”

That standard worked out O.K. and by it I still abide. 

That is why as we are out and about doing legislative visits in our defense of Medicaid and Medicare, I have certain standards I expect to have upheld by our elected officials.

  1. Respect your constituents and our time.  As we have been busy scheduling legislative visits, I continue to be amazed that for some offices it has taken multiple phone calls and e-mails just to get an answer. Folks, it should not be that difficult to schedule an appointment.  Especially, when we were looking for a meeting date during the week you were home in the district.
  2. Come ready to discuss with us.  We hear enough of the sound bytes and one-liners while watching cable television.  Seek to have an honest conversation with us.  We expect that of those who represent us.
  3. Whether we are in agreement or in sharp contrast of opinions, respect us as we respect the office you hold. Don’t label us. Listen to us. And, in mutual respect, we shall do the same.

This season of legislative visits has been heartening. I’m proud of our consumers and their confidence and advocacy. 

Though I would never be considered someone who “waves the flag,” these moments of conversation with our elected officials are foundational to the democracy we share and build and respect.

For many reasons, if you have not yet called or visited your elected officials, pick up the phone and schedule a visit.  Grab a pen and paper (that time honored form of communication) and write a letter.  Join in the conversation.  Respect our democracy enough to engage in its practice.

Andy Rooney inspired me!

October 3, 2011   Comments Off on Andy Rooney inspired me!

In the spirit of Andy Rooney, don’t you hate it when a blog starts…goes along….gets some followers… and then disappears much like the vaunted Steelers run defense? 

As for me, yes to both and equally so.

It has been a woefully long time since there has been a blip, a blurb, or a blog on this page.  In fact, when the last blog was posted, the Pirates were still playing and above .500 and the congress was still bitterly divided….O.K. well not everything has changed….sigh.

Well, maybe it was Andy Rooney and his parting episode, or, perhaps it was persons saying they’ve missed the blog; or, it could have been the fact that I not only want to be blogging…I need to be.  I too need to actively respond to my teachers, professors, and congregants who said, “you really need to be writing!” 

Although, there is now nothing left upon which I can vow or promise, I simply commit to do so and will hopefully be joined in the writing by some other bloggers-in-waiting.

Now is the season when thoughts and reflections and insights need to be shared, heard, and responded. 

I am excited to be back in the blog!

I thank you for your grace and will honor your returning with me to many words, wants and wishes…..I believe this particular blog has used all the alliteration I can muster. 

More good ripples to be made….


Let the Games begin!

August 1, 2011   Comments Off on Let the Games begin!

It’s the first day of  August. Excellent! I’m one who always likes the beginning of new months — it gives me a chance to renew, to start again, to clean the slate, to get back on the field what had been benched for a while.

Yes, the blog is back. I know….at this point we’ve been to “Return of Blog,” and “Son of Blog,” and now could reasonably do “Distant Third Cousin of Blog;” yet, we are again in the blogging business so let us begin.

This is another major sports week here in our fair city and it has nothing to do with the Pirates (may they find anew their winning ways) nor the Steelers.

I am referring to the 31st National Veterans Wheelchair Games that Pittsburgh will host this week.  Over 600 athletes will compete in 17 different sports.

For we who are long-suffering Pirates fans this has been a gift of a summer as our Buccos are winning and being featured on ESPN where the pundits promote the Pirates grit and grind and heart.  Alas, our boys in black and gold are not even close to the fight, fire, and strength that will be celebrated at this week’s Games.  Make it a point and a “must do” and attend some of the athletic events.

Most of the competition takes place at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. For a schedule of events visit this link:

Game on!


Dance Team

May 25, 2011   Comments Off on Dance Team

So, how good is Hines Ward and his twinkling toes and sparkling smile?

Along with amazement at his dancing talent, I enjoy even more the images of the audience and those waving Terrible Towels!  I love seeing former and current Steeler players cheering him on, their towels in hand.

What energizes me are the images of the essence of team.  To dance well and to win the competition (if there’s a parade…I’m there), the partners must trust and be in sync with one another.  Secondly, you show up and support your team-mate — on the field, off the field, even on the dance floor….you are there for one another.

I admit, I don’t know a rumba from a rutabaga, yet, I do know what makes for a successful team: mutual support, shared joy in another’s success, trust, being willing to sometimes lead and sometimes follow, and remaining part of what you have journeyed.

We in advocacy work would be wise to learn these lessons. As the budget battle heats up and we labor to lessen the cuts and educate the public, we would be wise to join forces and find common and uncommon allies.

May we move our advocacy campaigns with the rhythm of shared strength and mutual support.


What a day for actors!

April 5, 2011   Comments Off on What a day for actors!

Today, 5 April is quite a day to be born if one is considering entering the acting profession!  Born this day are Academy Award Winners: Bette Davis, Gregory Peck, and Spencer Tracy!

Because I have been busier then a phone operator in Steelers nation after Hines  Ward dances (how great was he last night?!!?), the blog postings have been sparse…..OK, downright not in sight….sigh……

However, with Spring comes new beginnings…..and a chance to blog, baby, blog!

Back to the point, with all these incredible actors born this day, it prompted me to finally announce the “Rev Sal Community Organizing 101 Film Series!”

I will be creating and posting movie-watching guides for films that just shout great community organizing in action!  The hope is that folks will use these films in their own organizing work.

The first one in the series will be a favorite film, “IRON-JAWED ANGELS” that every voting American woman should own!

Keep visiting the CHC Website for more information!


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