Can You Hear Me Now? What It Takes to Get Busy Moms to Act

BY ON June 8, 2011

We Moms Clean Air Force moms have been talking about ways to engage other mothers. We are trying to ignite a movement to clean up the air for our children. In furtherance of this, I recently asked a few mothers all over the country if they cared about air pollution and making the air clean for their children. I called, I emailed, but mostly, I sent messages to them directly on Facebook. Woman shouting in bullhorn

Everyone who responded, from California to New York, said, “Yes, I care!”; “of course, I do!” and “Yes, it’s important!” Most of them said they were willing to act on their concern. But not everyone is prepared to act right now. Some mothers said that they want to make a difference, but they are not revolutionaries. They do not want to put themselves out there too much. One said she considers what mothers like the MCAF moms do to be very brave and brazen. These mothers are more comfortable focusing their efforts on their own personal and household choices, like driving less, reducing consumption and voting.

Some of the moms who are already very active politically and /or in the community feel like they are already over-committed. They have so much to care about and so many things that make them angry enough to act. In Houston, the state legislature is threatening to cut important school programs out of the budget. Concerned and angry mothers are fighting on behalf of their public schools.  Worried and proactive moms are taking on the bullying and cyberbullying epidemic. Some moms are focused on keeping their kids safe on the roads and off of their cell phones. Moms are feeding the hungry and volunteering with abused women and children of incarcerated parents. “I can only go in so many directions before I am worthless at every turn,” one mom laments.

And we all have felt her pain. We have been (or are) in her shoes.

But some things are pressing and urgent. And we mothers, who are accustomed to focusing with laser vision on the matters that are most critical, know that sometimes there are windows of opportunity to make an important change, a vital step, or significant progress. We have had to learn to recognize those drop-everything-and-act moments. All mothers say they are “energized soldiers” and “organized machines” when those moments arise.

How do you recognize such a moment? How does the information come to you in order for you to get in your warrior mode?

“When my child is in imminent danger…”

“When something threatens to hurt someone in my family…”

“When an outcome or a potential outcome has reached a critical place…”

“When all hell breaks loose!”

But if the matter is important but not a barn burner, then what? I asked some.

“I’ve gotta know that the time I spend will bring about results. I’m looking for big impact for my time and big bang for my buck!”

It’s got to be easy—“like clicking a link on FB, filling in a few lines and sending it on to the powers that be.” One friend said.

One mother, who is very active in the community, said mothers need the statistics and they need to know how the issues impact their children. This reminder resonates along with the moms who said that they hop into hyper-drive when their children are in imminent danger.

This is important feedback and helpful for my MCAF efforts. Our children are in imminent danger. And so we can do better at reaching mothers with the facts and letting them know that the time to act is now.
I remind my mom friends that I have been talking for months about the urgency and the importance of this time period to act on behalf of our children’s air. Some of them say, ‘yes and I have been hearing you.” And I say, “yes but you haven’t acted.” And they say, “ I needed you to tell me!” And I say, “All of the writing I have been doing about clean air didn’t reach you until I called?”

One friend said, “Well, honestly, no. I get so much information coming my way. When you call or email me… one super busy woman to another…I know it’s important!”

Hmmm. So there it is. I get it. From everyone I questioned, there was a united chorus to this question—what do you need in order to take the leap toward activism—ease and impact and urgency. But with regard to urgency, I have heard something else, too. People need real connection. Interestingly, though we all feel so connected (frankly if it wasn’t for Facebook, I would not even have been able to reach some of the people that I did!), this hyper-connectivity brings with it a sort of over-stimulation that may dull our senses.  We are inundated. Somehow real connection requires an extra step.

At a time when there are so many competing causes that all really do matter, what your friends and colleagues need to know is that this is important enough to reach them directly.  Have I talked to my neighbor about clean air yet? Have I given my readers and friends easy tools to act upon? I can do better. And I will.
I have written enough for now… Gotta go make some phone calls!

– Gina

So what is Mom’s Clean Air Force asking you to do?

We are asking mothers (EVERYONE) to send an email to the EPA urging them to keep their new “Air Toxics Rule” strong so that the heavy mercury polluters will clean up their plants, thereby preventing up to 17,000 premature deaths and 120,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms.

Click HERE for the easy formatted email to the EPA—takes 3 minutes, PROMISE!

TOPICS: Activism, Economics, Mercury Poisoning, Pollution