A few weeks ago when I picked up my personalized plates at the DMV, there was a guy sitting under a tent out front with a petition. There was nothing under or around the tent advertising the cause for which the man was soliciting. All that anyone who passed by the area could see was a pop-up tent, a six foot table, and a guy sitting behind the table in a folding chair looking at his cell phone.
I couldn’t drive away without putting the new plates on my car, so while I was working I was able to observe the man for a few extra minutes. Every so often, he would yell at the people passing by to sign his petition to (fill in the blank). He never stood up. He never explained WHY anyone should sign the petition. He just sat back, reclined as far back in his folding chair as possible, and yelled at people to sign his clipboard. Not a single person stopped by his table in the time that I was there.
Now I realize it’s summer in the desert so it was pretty hot out that day. I have no idea how long the guy was there or how engaging or excited he may have been earlier in the afternoon. Advocacy can be exhausting. However, having no perspective on any research the man may have done for his cause or any background information on why he wanted me to sign his petition, the last thing I wanted to do that afternoon was respond to his shouts.
In order to avoid becoming “that guy” for causes related to living with diabetes, I am excited about the information provided in the Diabetes Action Hub contained on the Diabetes Advocates website, which I heard about for the first time at MasterLab earlier this month. It has information about the latest advocacy efforts available for people related to the diabetes community. This includes information about legislative action, the sponsors and supporters of the bills, and the position statements of major diabetes organizations regarding the legislation. The site also includes information about how to continue to engage in the diabetes community (online and offline) and how to become a better advocate.
I never want to be the person holding a clipboard yelling in a parking lot who everyone ignores. I am hopeful that the Action Hub will help the voices of people with diabetes not only become louder but also connect with the stakeholders (policymakers, pharmaceutical companies, insurance providers, people with diabetes, etc.) necessary to move the efforts forward to our goals.
Disclosure: I was able to attend MasterLab and the Friends for Life conference this year as a result of a scholarship from the Diabetes Hands Foundation offered to the Diabetes Advocates. The scholarship covered my airfare, hotel, and conference registration. All opinions continue to be my own.