One Wouldn't Know 2011 Was a Tough Political Year by Our Results

March 2, 2012
by Ken Patterson

I was dreading putting the 2011 global grassroots report together, not because I don’t like reporting on what we’ve done, but because it’s a lot of work. So a few weeks ago, with the help of Lisa Marchal, I just sat down and started compiling. As I started putting our achievements together I was thinking to myself, “holy cow, we really got a lot done.” And we did get a lot done! We got the US to make a 3-year pledge to GAVI, we got great participation on a bunch of sign-on letters, we generated a ton of media, and we got increases, not decreases, in two of our key programs, TB and GAVI. We also got the US to finally kick in some money to the Global Partnership for Education.

In the middle of working on the report I called one of our chapters that hadn’t been so active recently and spoke to one of the leaders. He said that the group had some people willing to take action, but they were feeling a bit beaten down by the political climate–the debt ceiling debate, and that their Rep. wasn’t very responsive. He said that because of this they hadn’t been very active. I told him about the report I was writing and all that we had achieved in 2011, and how surprised and inspired I was by it. He said, “well that’s a ray of sunshine. I think if some of our group members were aware of this they’d be more willing to get together again.” I sent him the report.

A couple of lessons for me in this:

1) The work that each of us do is critical, whether our members of Congress are supportive or not so supportive. The champion scale we use to assess progress with our members of Congress includes educating those who don’t know about the issues, and blunting the opposition of those who might oppose what we want the US to do. Getting someone to stop voicing opposition or getting them to speak out less is a big win in many cases, and it’s incredibly valuable. So start where ever your member of Congress is and get them to take the next step, however small that may seem–it really, really matters. Don’t get discouraged into inaction!

2) We are a ray of sunshine for a lot of people. Our stories and our successes are the things that beat cynicsm back and that keep hope alive. You are beacons of hope because you took a chance on the thesis that individuals and people working together make a difference. Share our successes and the hope that they inspire. Here is a copy of the 2011 Global Grassroots Report with details. Share it with those who need a lift.

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