I feel like I’ve been advocating my entire adult life—for the nonprofits I worked (or volunteered) for, the Breast Cancer community after losing my 28-year-old sister to the disease, adopting my fur baby from a shelter and the public health and safety advocacy I do for my community with my group, Land Park Society (LPS). And through my activism, I have seen incredible feats accomplished by people coming together and doing their part, even if it’s just a little bit a day.
The idea for the five-minute advocate came from the fact that 10-20% of people seem to do the majority of the work (whether it’s for college group papers, the PTA, nonprofit board of directors—you name it), while others stand on the sidelines, believing they don’t have the time to make a difference (or don’t know how). And the same occurs in my group: the same percentage rise to the occasion, without being asked, and do incredible things that make a daily impact. One example was a friend of mine who started a “blitz team” for reporting transient camps. She put the most active 15 people in a group email and text (with their permission) and sent them the information on what area to report to the city, every single day for 30 days. The result? Almost 50% less transient camps in the area, which are compromised of violence, drug dealing and using.
I created my group to be a working group with the number one rule being “no complaining without action.” But again, most people don’t take action. So when I saw the results from a small number of people, doing a task that takes five minutes a day, I decided to make it a requirement. I created a step-by-step guide on how to make various reports to the city, police and Caltrans, for people who still didn’t know how to do it or were too overwhelmed to figure it out. And I let people know that if they didn’t think this community was worth five minutes of their time, then this was not the group for them. Because I firmly believe that staying silent on the sidelines makes your part of the problem, not part of the solution.
What happened next was awesome! Triple the amount of people reported, and within 24 hours, one of the largest transient camps which lined both sides of the sidewalk and was inches from the light rail and railroad tracks, was cleared.
While most people can’t put in the amount of work I do, they can do something five minutes a day. I challenged the people in my advocacy group to speak out and take action—most of which can be done using their phone while standing in line, waiting at an appointment, doing school pick-up, sitting at kids’ soccer practice, etc.—and want to see every human being do the same. If your community is struggling in some way, find out how you can contribute. Start with five minutes a day and see what happens.
PS–Join my Facebook group, “The Five-Minute Advocate,” to learn how you can take small steps to make a big difference.