When an issue matures and becomes a movement, a multitude of leaders emerge from many sectors as constituencies converge to focus the rising energy on the issue. Suddenly what may have been a concern of a select group of informed and long-committed individuals becomes a popular groundswell.
New voices are heard and new ideas abound. It can be a raucous time. And what may have been an established program can be thrown into turmoil. Newcomers to the issue bring fresh insights and enthusiasm but may lack knowledge of the history and grasp of the complexities involved. They will likely be impatient with the old guard, whose caution and guidance can occur as putting on the brakes and slowing things down.
A measure of wisdom and tolerance is needed on all sides to guide progress and minimize conflict and misunderstanding.
The old guard need to focus on disseminating information and mentoring newcomers. Leadership at this stage of expansion is primarily a supportive and inclusive effort. As time passes, a new cadre of informed leaders will begin to emerge, and established leaders from incoming groups and constituencies will form a new coalition.
If care has been taken to welcome newcomers and meet their needs for information and supportive guidance, the old guard will emerge stronger in the new and expanded movement.
Eventually a new visionary leader may emerge to lead the coalition forward. Leaders from early stages may need to yield some or their earlier authority as position and roles in the movement are redefined.
When an issue grows into a movement it ought to be cause for celebration. Keeping the focus on shared values and goals can minimize the personal stresses as relationships evolve and roles shift.
I believe the issue of campaign finance and election reform is becoming a movement. People from all parties and no party are pushing this issue to the forefront. Creating an effective and cohesive coalition must be the primary focus as diverse groups and individuals coalesce to become a viable political force.
I believe this issue can unite all citizens. Further, I believe that only a united citizenry can mobilize a movement capable of significant change. The powers that be would prefer we remain divided and fighting among ourselves. Divided and contentious we are easily governed by those who currently hold power. United we are a force that must be reckoned with. Together we can do anything.
The Non-Partisan League of Spokane provides a needed gathering place for all of us to meet and find common ground.
Roseanne Lasater is” stillwalkn”