Navigating Life as we Know It

10. Grassroots Activism

October 28, 2020 Envision Media Group Season 1 Episode 10
Navigating Life as we Know It
10. Grassroots Activism
Chapters
Navigating Life as we Know It
10. Grassroots Activism
Oct 28, 2020 Season 1 Episode 10
Envision Media Group

Take a few steps towards understanding Grassroots activism with local organizer, lawyer, and candidate for state legislature Lily Chen Schulting.

Show Notes Transcript

Take a few steps towards understanding Grassroots activism with local organizer, lawyer, and candidate for state legislature Lily Chen Schulting.

Steve:

Hi there, this is Steve. When we started working on navigating life as we know it nearly one year ago, I created a list of people and organizations I want it to feature in episodes. We have recorded 28 episodes, and now we are in the process of posting them for you to listen to. I spoken with some amazing individuals all of whom share one thing in common. They are on a mission to improve the life experience of people with disabilities and to remove barriers that prevent them from living a full and self determined life. I have learned much from these conversations. I have also noted some reoccurring themes and how they achieve successful outcomes. First, they all assume competency and focus on each individual's potential rather than what the world often sees as their deficits. Second, they respect the life goals and aspirations of the people with disabilities with whom they work. And third, they recognize that progress is made in disability rights only when people working together on common goals demand the necessary changes in society and in the law, to provide full engagement and unfettered opportunity for all. However, change doesn't happen from the top down. that often happens from the ground up from grassroots advocacy and from individuals learning how to effectively advocate for themselves. our episode today is about grassroots advocacy with voli shoting. A special needs mom, a grassroots organizing advocate for civil rights and disability rights and an attorney. Lilly is also a candidate in this November's election for Michigan House of Representatives in District 72. You can learn more about Lily and her campaign at her website, Lilly for change.org. Now let's try a conversation with Lily. Lily Welcome to navigating life as we know it.

Unknown:

Thank you, Steven,

Steve:

on all your social media. It says attorney advocate and Li Could you explain those three aspects of your life?

Unknown:

Yes. So I have a law degree. And that's how the attorney comes in. In Michigan, I have been the mother of two children, one of whom has autism. And when it was time to fight for his special education needs. That's when I stepped up to become a disability advocate. And I am also an ally because I am Asian. But I'm also a human rights activist and civil rights activists. So therefore, whatever happens to people who struggle people who are marginalized, that is very important to me. And I always try to step up as an ally, since I too have grown up with some discrimination, some prejudice, but I know it's nothing like the stories that others may have. So I do my best to listen, to learn to be open minded and to speak up when I need to, and to also teach others to speak up and become allies. I think that we all come together as allies, we can make this a better world,

Steve:

you have started a number of organizations or helped other organizations become successful. Yes. Could you explain those organizations, please?

Unknown:

Yeah, so when I started mobilizing with other parents way back about five years ago, we started with a small organization with other parents. And that one lasted a short time until it competition one goal. And at that point, I was also offered the opportunity to help grow the social media page for the Kent County Health Department. It was affiliated with the Kent County Health Department, and it's called families with special needs Connect. And at the time I became involved, there was probably about four to 600. During that time, I've grown it to I guess, about 2000 in the last three years, and my goal was to find all the families in all of greater Grand Rapids and Kent County to know that there's a place there will be other parents who may experience something very similar, because there's many different types of disabilities. So we can all be under one umbrella and to know that if they have a question, they can submit it to the group and I know that there will be plenty of answers to help them with their challenges and their questions

Steve:

and I have to add here to that. I am a member of that group reading the dialogue going back and forth. There's a lot of good work that's done there. Because all of us know more than any one of us

Unknown:

and people who care for children with disabilities. So that includes healthcare professionals, teachers. And so that helped, to some extent, with the advice that parents are seeking.

Steve:

Tell us about the disability 18.

Unknown:

Yes, as it became clear, about four years ago, after our first success with a small group of parents that there were, there was a lot more work in the area of special education, that cuts were still happening, and that they were happening to my son's school, but a lot of schools that were similar to my son's school, which is the call center based schools, and they were essentially what you could call a Special Education School in which everybody, every student there has disability. And so the cuts were happening about four years ago, and that's when I knew I had to step up and create my own organization to be able to globalize when we need to, we got on these issues, you know, prevent the cuts, but not just prevent the curb cuts, but make special education, high quality. And so that's when I started the disability team. And like most organizations, it's it's had different people along the way. And at one point, the local teachers union called the Grand Rapids Education Association, and reached out to me to mobilize parent to work with them on certain special education cuts that were happening at that time about and I think that was in early December 2017, January 2018, February 2018. So very early in 2018. That's when we mobilized for one campaign. And then even though our disability team took it to a different step, when we were fighting against special education cuts, mainly we as a result of our collective voice, we were able to have the problems highlighted in our society in our King County and Grand Rapids society. And that resulted in an independent audit, which was called or by 20. Superintendent in Cook County, because there are 20 school districts in King County and the students at the center based schools are actually students from all the districts in county, there was an independent audit facilitator, and she was amazing. She was the evaluator for the centerpiece programs, and she did a phenomenal job figured out the answers to what was going on and how the system could be better. And that led to eventually the transfer and management of nine of the 11 Center Bay schools from the local school district, one local school district to Kent County, ISD, which is Intermediate School District. So it's the Kent County ISD. And they've been able to dress some of the problems. I mean, in all fairness, some of its resources, some of its money, and maybe they were able to help in that way. And as a result of this campaign, the successful campaign, the teachers, me, it's not just the students have been happy, or the parents have been happy. But also the teachers have mentioned to me that this has been a blessing. Yeah, that they have plenty of therapists of all kinds coming through the classrooms each day, whether that speech therapist or occupational therapist or physical therapist or nurses, psychologists, the autism experts, even they've been hired in. And so they've been able to help address the needs of the students, which means that to some extent funding requires and and that has been successful. And the teachers, I think it takes a lot of weight and stress from the teachers.

Steve:

So partly what happened here, this started be in response to budget cuts and program cuts. Yeah, and turned into an audit and then the reassignment of some of the oversight,

Unknown:

cuts came some problems, and we hide it highlighted the problems, and we had a voice and I think part of that voice had come from my years preparing and being part of the local community, as well as the grassroot community. So I had both in addition to the disability community, so as bringing together And the way three different worlds well as the general public realm, maybe that's four different realms.

Steve:

Now somebody who might be thinking about leading some change in their own area, whether it's Michigan or beyond. might think Well, yeah, but she's an attorney. So it's a lot easier for her to do that. And I'm sure that did help, especially when you're reading disability law and what's required as opposed to what they were doing. But for someone who's not an attorney, would that be something that they would shy away from them? Because it takes

Unknown:

a lot of you know, I think all it takes is, like you had mentioned earlier, it takes a passion and a purpose. And, you know, being able to just speak up and stand stand up, doesn't mean you have to, you know, speak up on everything all the time. But you should have a strategy for when to speak up, and how to speak up basically know when,

Steve:

when to pick your battles, right, and where to pick your battles.

Unknown:

Yeah, and to do it with, if possible, to be able to negotiate and build bridges, if possible. And sometimes that happens, and I understand that sometimes it may not happen. Yeah, people can shout things from the rooftop and not be heard. But do always try to negotiate and build bridges, if possible. And a lot of it is based on relationships. I mean, having a voice in the public realm, and often in social media requires having relationships as well, and building relationships. Because you're active in the community, you're active in grassroots events, you're active in getting to know organizations, and having a finger, foot through every door, a lot of different doors and bringing all of that together.

Steve:

It sounds to me like

Unknown:

that magnifies the voice that we have. And that's a strong voice that you need to make changes happen.

Steve:

I liked that you're emphasizing building relationships, because I think we've all been in a room, maybe more than one time where the voices there were all negative about something that is needing change. And yeah, you don't lead with the negative. I think it's like you have said previously in conversations we've had that you're assuming positive intent initially in offering people, the ability to make ability to make change for the good in a positive way, it may not always end up that way. It might end up with being more confrontational, but you you don't build consensus by attacking or proving someone wrong by showing them the right way you expand? Yes,

Unknown:

absolutely. You should always start off trying to keep the door open. I mean, despite all the negative voices, always keep that door open, continue to go relationships in different groups. I mean, you know, there is a grassroots group, usually on many different issues. And that's important, and also to work work as a negotiator and bridge builder with other groups, whether it's political groups or other agencies even and people involved in other agencies and somehow bring it all together so that our voices are magnified. And we want and that's kind of the power of successful grassroots building is to magnify the voices so that people would be willing to negotiate and that that's the goal is that someone be willing to negotiate who has the power to make the

Steve:

difference? They might not be willing to negotiate until they realize there's enough people that are concerned.

Unknown:

Yeah. So you want to be able to have a strong enough voice in order to bring people to the negotiating table. And that's the goal. And how do you get a strong voice? This is I mean, it is mobilizing. But it's more than that. It's doing the work along the way to build relationships, and to talk with people and including people in agencies who run organizations and know that they have certain goals for their organizations, and how can we work together? Can we have a common vision and some common goals? And yeah, and hopefully, that opens doors when it's time to eventually have a voice. But so

Steve:

if there's an issue that someone facing in a calls for change, you might yourself the organizer might not have all the skills, but generally when you get 1520 people in a room, there's a lot of talent and a lot of skills there that have not be apparent at first.

Unknown:

Yeah. So yeah, finding a lot of people who are willing to volunteer to because a lot of this is built on volunteer energy and bringing everyone together. And you know, just because I had been involved over the last five years in the political community The grassroots community in the marginalized communities in a lot of different communities, the disability community, obviously, that helped to increase the strength of our voice when it came time to highlighting issues of a campaign.

Steve:

So what would you say to somebody who might want to be starting a grassroots campaign? What advice would you give someone at the very beginning?

Unknown:

I think I have learned that I've done some things well, and some things I would have improved on on one thing is, yeah, it's great to find others who have a similar passion. But a lot of times in my work, I often don't know people. So it's all the more reason, I think, to go slowly and build slowly so that when there's time for a campaign that you will be prepared, and not bringing together a lot of people who you may not have previously known. Yeah, that you would be prepared in that way as we stay involved. And yeah, over the years, I mean, it didn't happen overnight. It was over the course of the last five years that I've been around the community active involved in many things, and that's built the network and build relationships along the way.

Steve:

So number one is identify an issue, and then identify people that issue Yeah, hold him together for got big coffee. or?

Unknown:

Yeah, I would say even before, I mean, yeah, you want to bring together people who care about certain issues. Certainly, when you're forming organization, it just can't be about one issue. So that's why it's important to build slowly before, there's a huge issue that everyone has to get highly involved in. And that's the ideal circumstance, because what I've found out is if we're building just based on one issue, when one issue is gone, the organization is finding a purpose, again,

Steve:

like disability 18 still exists, even though you accomplished your original objective, right? Yes. So it's, but now it's focusing on education, reform, education, improvement of methods and other issues that come along the way because you continue to stay in that vein, so to speak, in education.

Unknown:

Yeah, yeah. And even though I am taking a little bit of a hiatus, at the moment, the disability team, it is a nonprofit. And I do foresee at some point in the near future, being able to embrace more than just education reform and systematic reform, but also other issues relating to disability and Disability Services and advocacy in that realm, as well. And to meet the needs of all the children in Kent County, he was sooner than we know, become adults and their children for only a short time, they will be adult and our government needs to be ready for that needs to be ready for when children who have turned 18 or 25th or older, need a place to live and need a healthy lifestyle and something to do to be fulfilled and be a contributing member of society. If possible. We need to foresee these problems and these goals and this vision long before they happen. And that's what I hope to do. So I hope to do with my disability team and to build solutions. And that's what I hope to do a state rep to to address the growing needs. The Disability population, which is increasing all the time.

Steve:

And I think as you mentioned, what they do in the future, it's housing, employment, and in many cases, transportation because many people with disabilities don't drive effects where they can live in spots where they can work.

Unknown:

And even more than just housing is also services. Depending on their levels of disability, they may need an aide and some of them may need an A 24 hours a day because I know my son because he is severe. I can't leave him alone ever. Not certainly not even at night because we don't know what would happen if he wakes up or lots of accidents can happen. Those are the needs of our family. And I know we're not alone. I know disability is a spectrum. There will be plenty of people who need services and different types of services depending on where they are in that spectrum. And I'm sure a lot of people disabilities may also need an aid and there certainly is not enough services because most parents have said for years, they would like more respite services more aid more time with each if they could, because that's what their children need. There will never be a shortage of needs around the disability community, and particularly the AIDS, there's a shortage of those folks right now, extreme shortage, and they'll be competing. Also, because baby boomers of which I am one, we get older, we need help also, and all those stuff from the same source, and the source is dry right now. Because parents can't live forever. You know, I mean, it's been said that some parents say, I would like to just live one more day longer than their children, at least, just so that they would be able to take care of their children. But in true parents do get older, we aren't as physically able to take care of our children. As we get older. Yeah, our children will need aids in life. And also, more and more people are diagnosed with autism and probably other disabilities. And that's a growing population. So the needs are much greater, and they will continue to grow with the population. And we have to be ready for that

Steve:

every solution that I have been able to investigate over the last several years. With regard to disability, this started through a grassroots organization, typically parents or other family members. In some cases, people that provide services, see that this current situation is inadequate. And by uniting voices, they get the attention of people in legislatures, whether it's state or federal, it all bubbles up from the people who say, Hell no, we need something better than this. If you come in with one voice, and it's the United voice around issues with regard to disability, you get more accomplished because if one particular group pursues their own agenda, it can all happen at the expense of the other groups, one gets a bigger piece of the pie because of interest in their children. But in reality, it's all the children, adults with disabilities that we have to be moving the needle forward on. And that's the power of grass roots. Because you're uniting not based upon a disability or diagnosis, you're united over an issue that needs addressing,

Unknown:

right. And that's one of the reasons why we called our organization disability aging, we want to be inclusive of people who have different disabilities. And I know a lot of people are part of the Down syndrome organization in West Michigan, and they're phenomenal. They've done a great job mobilizing over the years, and probably over the decades, obviously, I'm new to add on more within the last five years. But yeah, we all definitely want to work together and make this a better world. But I think in terms of actual advocacy itself, and not just the one on one, advocacy, which is very important in the disability world, but also the systematic advocacy, that has been the missing piece. That's what I have been hoping to still accomplish with our disability a team in the years ahead, as well as find solutions that we need for our growing population of people with disabilities. And the thing is, it is powerful, it's powerful to mobilize and there's another group Pac, which is the parent advocacy Council and, and they have mobilized over the years and they were originally partially funded probably by Grant with network one ad

Steve:

network when and for people not familiar with Michigan, is a community mental health structure in Kent County.

Unknown:

And they are source for Disability Services and mental health services. So everything has essentially goes through network 184, those services, and they had helped a certain parent group called Pac, which no longer exists due to funding cuts, that group did go to the legislature and would advocate on certain issues relating to disability. And yeah, we need that that's very important. But another reason why I am running for state representative in the Michigan house is to have a stronger voice. If a disability group came to me, I would be all in I would hopefully be able to have some knowledge to better understand the issues that other advocacy groups or even individuals and parents of children with disabilities, I would hope they can come to me and I would understand exactly what their situation is. After they explained it to me. I would be able to know how important it is.

Steve:

Social distancing has to make it very difficult to run a political campaign. So Lily tell us all about your campaign.

Unknown:

My name is Lily shoting. And I am running for state representative in District 72. I am running as a mother of a child with disabilities and I am also a proven community education and disability advocate. And therefore, I will dedicate my skills and my experience and my energy to help those who have the least for people who struggle for people with disability for people who are marginalized or disenfranchised or disadvantaged in any way. That is my goal and include education and health care, mental health, Disability Services, economic fairness, the environment, social racial justice, my website is www. Lilly Li, NY for fo R. Michigan spelled out m IC h i g n.com. Find my website, join me have my positions listed in greater detail there. Did you have any other questions t?

Steve:

Well, if someone wanted to make a campaign contribution, can they do that through your website?

Unknown:

Yes, they can go to my website Lilly for michigan.com. And just five or $10, not much, or they can donate that monthly, that would be a great help to our grassroots campaign.

Steve:

And I would assume that once we're able to go out and knock on doors and face people, it might be helpful to have additional volunteers. So can they also volunteer on your website?

Unknown:

Yes. So on my website, there's a button or join Lily, it will ask you if you can volunteer whether knocking doors or making phone calls. Or if you live in District 72. If you willing to have a yard sign in your yard, I would definitely appreciate that too. Those links are on my website. Lilly for fo r michigan.com.

Steve:

I do not live in your district, therefore I can't vote for you. But for anybody listening who does live in the district I have known Lily for was it seven or eight years? I don't even know. It's been a while. But I do know that you have a strong passion strong determination during the break. I call you in a very affectionately flattering way a bulldog with a bone. And I mean that because you're tenacious. You're gonna make a bumper sticker like that now, right? No, yeah, yeah, yeah, you have a passion and a great deal of energy around issues that mean something to people, particularly those who are disadvantaged. You are a champion for social justice and economic justice. And we need people like you representing us. If I lived in your area, I would definitely be voting for you, Lily,

Unknown:

thank you. And even if someone doesn't live in my area, we can still make Michigan better together. They can still donate to me through my website for michigan.com. And, and I would really appreciate any donation however small No amount is too small, cuz it will help. campaigns are costly. You don't

Steve:

have a super PAC.

Unknown:

No, no, I am powered by the people.

Steve:

There you go. Well, thank you, Lily. It was a pleasure talking with you. I had a lot of fun. I learned a few things. And we'll see you again soon.

Unknown:

All right, thanks. Thanks so much. Bye. Bye. Thank you for tuning in to navigating life as you know it. This is Alex here with your mid break announcements. And this time I've got a special guest in the studio with me maybe kidnapped from painting a kitchen but I brought our co host carrion. Hi, Mom.

Kerry Johnson:

Hi. How you doing Alex?

Unknown:

Well, you know, it's a fun day in Michigan. You know, it's cold gray, you know, the usual It's October.

Kerry Johnson:

Welcome. I was painting.

Unknown:

Yes, that's why we're painting we're painting too. So it works for everybody there. So first off, I'd like to thank everyone for tuning in. I know you might have missed me last week. That's okay. I figured you had so much going on with this different format and all this exciting stuff. You didn't need me butting in there and changing up the move with my dulcet tones. So here we are. And we want to talk about first off that we will be posting some stuff for follow up about Lily Shelton on our Facebook page. And of course, the best way to participate is to what

Kerry Johnson:

contact us ask questions. Listen,

Unknown:

join our conversation on Facebook showing on Facebook tail. What a great way to get a hold of us right and influence where we're going to go in the future. Exactly. That's the best part about this. We're looking for you to help influence So join our conversation and especially if this topic advocacy ways to bring about change in the law for the special needs community to help make things better, really, really interest you reach out to us send us a message, we'll see what we can do to help you out, get a hold of resources connected with people, even guides, whatever it takes will help you. That's what we do here we help. Right,

Kerry Johnson:

exactly. And if you have some questions about how to go about a grassroots organization, Lilly has done a phenomenal job of that and has a network that is amazing.

Unknown:

Mm hmm. Truly, truly, and you'll hear a bit about that in the chat cafe coming up, which was a very good chat cafe if anyone wondering I actually record these segments, just before we air the episodes, after everything else has been done. So I've heard everything by now. Lastly, I do want to bring up that we will be doing something different next week. Every episode thus far has been a recording we did in the past. And then we do our chat cafes and analysis and talk about it. This one we're going to be recording is actually about your journey.

Kerry Johnson:

Exactly how how our journey started. And what that looked like, a really long time ago.

Unknown:

Because this is going to be the 32nd Yeah, 32nd Yeah. 32nd Liam turns 3632 this year, he will always have to add to to my year. It's confusing math. Let's just leave it at that. But it always gave me trouble when I sit there and go Wait, he's gonna be 32 this year. Yeah, cuz I'm 30. So a B, yeah. Okay, there we go. 88. Baby, I tell you. He's intermediate I'm beginning of 90. That's where the confusion comes from. It always throws me off by but we're going to be starting out this way, the first of probably three total, they're going to be about a month apart, because it's going to be talking about the journey to that point. Right. So this first one will be the journey to leading up to just after they were born. Right. And then the next one will be that first 30 days what that was, you know, that journey and how it went right. And then the last one will be the next 30 days and then kind of an end I'm going onward and upward and what life was like, right so a couple of very close episodes for us here at and Locky. Right. And we're hoping that it can help people out there who might be starting to go through some of these adventures. The Adventures good term bad Sure. Well, it isn't adventure. Yeah, an adventure. That was always a great phrase of mine. A you could say oh, my gosh, all this stuff happened. We it was bad. Or you could say we had an adventure. Mm hmm. It didn't work out. Well, we're not going to do that again. I will say anyone who knows me personally, well, first off, can tell him that there is a place where I get the way I approach things from and it is of course from you. In that I tend to go Oh, well, that was a fun adventure. That was horrifying. Yes. That's the point. It was an adventure. Yay. Move forward.

Kerry Johnson:

Exactly.

Unknown:

So with that, we'll let you get on with the unlock key chat cafe. I hope you enjoyed this little taste of the kind of rapport because I get to host these special episodes. Yes, yeah, this is gonna be very interesting. More of me. I'm certain everyone's like, when is Alex gonna get behind that mic more often?

Kerry Johnson:

Ask those probing questions. Oh, yeah. JOHN, all that interesting information.

Unknown:

It'll be good. It'll be good. Well, we're gonna let you get back to it. Have a wonderful listening experience. Enjoy.

Kerry Johnson:

Welcome back to the n Locky chat cafe. My name is Carrie. I am the cafe manager and the lead barista. Today Steve visited with Lily shell ting about grass roots advocacy. Lily has one of those quiet but persistent voices that tends to get listened to especially when there's an important issue that isn't being addressed. Well, Steve's here. So let's get started. Steve, I was taking notes and I know you were too so where should we start?

Steve:

Well, I wanted to start sharing definition I found in Wikipedia, grassroots advocacy guys kind of curious is where the phrase came from, and how that fits the way that Lilly works with people. It says in the United States and early use of the phrase grassroots was thought to have been coined by Senator Albert Jeremiah beverage of Indiana who said of the Progressive Party in 1912, quote, this party has come from the grassroots. It has grown from the soil of people's hard necessities. And I love that last sentence. Grass Roots is something that grows from the soil of people's hard necessities, while basically means we have this common need and by gosh by golly We're going to have it done. I'm trying to keep the language clean, I guess. Okay. And I think there's a lot to say about Lily and her dedication. I've known her for many years. Now, she is an attorney. She's an advocate and an ally. And I also think she has special powers because she's a special needs mom, they have a voice that tends to get listened to, especially when there's passion behind it, no matter how quiet and unassuming she can seem, she makes her presence known. Exactly. You call people like that forces of nature, don't you?

Kerry Johnson:

Well, it's a strong voice. You know, it's, it might be quiet, but it's strong.

Steve:

I think it's important to to note, when she talked about how you form grassroots advocacy, you get people that have a common need and a common interest. But she also emphasized several times negotiating. In other words, you don't you don't find out what's wrong, and get all a bunch of angry people who start in dating and other individuals. Because

Kerry Johnson:

blaming, right,

Steve:

right, right tries to get consensus tries to build bridges. Exactly.

Kerry Johnson:

And negotiate. I love that, because she's stressed that a couple of times do you want to build bridges and negotiate? And I just think that's a wonderful word to keep tucked in our heads as we engage in some of these issues, problems. And yes, dare I say, battles with our kids, and not just our kids, but

Steve:

all kids and moving things the way they should be? And, you know, I, I recognize and I know you do, too, but we feel sometimes we're doing battle with community mental health or another agency, because they're taking a position that we think is wrong. But the truth is, those people are not out to harm our children, they're trying to do the best they can in an environment in which they have other interests to protect and to pursue, maybe because they don't feel they have the resources to do it, or someone has told them we have a budget we have to adhere to. So if you're negotiating with them, and you're trying to understand their position, they're more likely to try to understand your position. And who knows, building bridges. If you open up opportunity, I'm sure they'll be happy to live with the consequences because it might make their life or their job much easier and more effective.

Kerry Johnson:

Right? wise person once told me if you have a problem with something going on here, don't bring me the problem. Bring me a solution. Right? You know that, to me, that's part of the whole building the bridge part, I'm gonna I see that there's a problem. There's budget cuts, yes, we all know that there's budget cuts, but when there's a budget cut, that's going to cause some other problems down the road. And I can see that maybe you didn't see that you're just more concerned about I got to get this budget in line moving things over and out of the way. And but I see that this is actually going to have a detrimental aspect later on. But instead of just pointing fingers at that, what if I came up with a solution?

Steve:

And that's exactly what she did with the school system account? Exactly. She found out a better way to do it. Better Way to administer it. Sometimes it takes eyes from the outside to look inside to say, gee, how about you change this, or we can make that change to make this work more effectively? Exactly.

Kerry Johnson:

That's why one of the reasons I'm really excited about her running, and I sure do hope that she is successful,

Steve:

just 72

Kerry Johnson:

in her in her bid for house seat for district 72. Because it would be wonderful to have a person who is an attorney and advocate an ally and a special needs mom, or somebody with that knowledge in the midst of other people. I know that I've had an impact where I work being able to talk to neurotypicals about how my life is and they didn't even realize it didn't even know they had no clue. But just because of our our conversations about oh yeah, this is how this is for me. And they're like, Oh, I didn't even know that I didn't even think about so I'm really excited to have a person in the know,

Steve:

in my experience with the DD Council. There's a lot of good people on both sides of the aisle that are elected as representatives. But when they get to Lansing, very few of them have much knowledge about disability. So it's really exciting to have someone go there that has a treasure trove of experience and knowledge about disability issues being elected rather than some of the freshmen coming in. They have to be kind of educated as to what the what the issues are. Right. But Sam is a great idea has a negative consequence for someone with a disability,

Kerry Johnson:

right. And it's not just her knowledge. She already has the contacts and the network out there.

Steve:

I'm excited too about her running and I want to make something clear her opponent in this election is someone named Steve Johnson, which is a strange coincidence, but I hear right now I want to make known that I Steve Johnson endorsing her for for the Michigan State House of Representatives for district 72. Lilly use that endorsement as best you can. I think there's many things about what she had to say which was exciting. Number one, it doesn't take an attorney to make this happen. It doesn't take an outgoing person or a person who does great speaking in front of people. It just takes someone who has a passion for change. And finds allies along the way they find other people that feel the same way. They get together and they start asking some questions about what is really important. You've got to examine it from all angles and find out what is the best spot to push at that if you do this, the other things become easier. What do we need to accomplish? What does it take to get there? Where do we strategically start right? And I think that was something that she said that goals

Kerry Johnson:

strategies, roads, bridges and negotiate

Steve:

Yeah, yeah, I put down here in my notes, identify a cause to begin with, begin talking with others who share that same common interest inventory, the assets and talents that exist within the group call it an asset map of the talent in the room, you can find out that well so and so is a writer and this other person over here his lead other similar organizations, this one is really good at fundraising, don't ignore the talent that you have in the room. And sometimes when you get enough people there, you could you could take on the world if you effectively use the talent. So basically inventory the talent and the interest that people have, then you plan a course of action and and I had on build bridges with educators, finance people, government agencies, experts, medical people. And then the last one I had down there for number six was negotiate try to make allies, not adversaries. And you can do that. Not always, but you'll never know until you try. You might find that some things work out quite well for you. So I had because I'm cheesy this way. I made up an acronym. Okay. I wanted to do pumpkin spice to spell that out because it is October but I couldn't. But I found all spice. Okay. Okay, so all spice stands for ask questions. When you have your people together. Uh, you're talking with people and forming relationships, find out what not just what their grievances are. But find out what their vision is. What should this look like? How can this be a solution to our problem? Like you said before, don't come in with a complaint, come in with a solution. Have an idea. Then listen intently to people. Sometimes if you have a strong passion in maybe in the back of your mind, you're trying to sell everybody about your passion without finding out what theirs is because theirs might be more illuminating a more inclusive. So listen carefully, listen very intently, and then learn what is most important focus on what do we all have in common? What are the things that we see that are really, really important, we can work together and everybody can be satisfied, then select your focus, and then plan your strategy, right, because you really have to be singing off the same sheet of music, if you're going to be moving forward and use the talents that are in the room, then including everyone is making sure that someone who participates that has energy. And if you're not really acknowledging them, if you're not including them in the solution in a meaningful way, you won't get them to come back, people have to feel like they're appreciated. And that's including everyone celebrate all the achievement because if you're forming a grassroots organization, you're going to fail to achieve some things that you wish to do. So celebrate the achievements, it makes it easier to move forward and keep doing what you want to accomplish, and then evaluate the results. So that spells all spice and we will spell out that all spice acronym on our Facebook page. I guess I could have tried cinnamon or something like that. But it would have been more challenge salt

Kerry Johnson:

next time go for salt for letter.

Steve:

So, again, if anybody has any way to look at this differently, or any questions, please let us know on Facebook. You want to take us out or should I do that? Oh, go ahead. Thank you to our producer Alex Johnson, who is also our youngest son, our graphic artist and website guru Holly, which is our oldest child. Sorry about that. Holly. Daniela Munoz our intern, she does a lot of work behind the scenes and all of you our listeners, because if we didn't have any listeners, we wouldn't be doing this. So we want more, please tell your friends. Wow, that's so exciting. This is a great program you need to listen to this podcast. Please check out our Facebook page and leave comments, suggestions, questions, even criticism you want but just be kind. We promise the follow up and answer your questions. Also, please consider becoming a sponsor of navigating life as we know it. We have a Patreon page where you can check out our membership levels and see some of our fantastic pre Swag, swag or sweat yes or not. Unlucky swag. We have coffee mugs, we have hats and someday we aspire to have T shirts. It could happen. It could. Okay. So let's say this together. Thanks for listening.