Does advocacy work?
Yes. In order to measure success in advocacy, the primary goals must be understood: awareness, dialogue and change.
Awareness is information and education. It involves more than knowing an issue exists; it seeks to combat apathy and prejudice, creating a shift in attitudes. Problems such as widespread poverty or environmental impacts of decisions are usually complex, multi-faceted issues. Awareness can be measured in polls, media coverage and government investigations.
Only when all parties are aware and fully informed on an issue can meaningful dialogue take place. Invested groups need to respect and understand each others perspective. Do not vilify or discount someone just because they hold concerns different from your own. It does not mean they do not care. A financially oriented person will not have their concerns appeased when talking about the need for dignity. Learn what the issues are and seek to speak to each other in a language that both can understand. Building a good rapport with people with a different viewpoint can ultimately bring about stronger and possibly more feasible solutions. Dialogue is a mark of success in and of itself.
Of course, change is the long term goal of advocacy. It can be a slow process but it does occur. The larger the goals the more the changes are incremental. Stopping the create of, for example, an incinerator is one step. Legislation surrounding them another. Each step is a small victory.
It is important to have patience. Shaping a community which is inclusive of a broad range of visions is no easy task. It is why many advocates are called community champions. Thank you for choosing to champion Hamilton.