A reading and listening list for hope and inspiration
Like you, we want to put 2022 behind us, but we’re going to bring the lessons from a challenging and surprising year into the year of the rabbit. Here are podcast episodes, webinars, articles, newsletters, and other resources that taught us lessons we’re applying to our work now.
These links cover a range of topics including disability justice, persuasion in politics, why the left is losing on messaging, grassroots organizing at Amazon, accessibility on social media, and the importance of honouring our humanity in all the work we do.
What’s (re)shaping the way you work in 2023? Let us know if any of these big ideas resonate with you and your teams. And if you’d like more recommendations from us and other content hounds in our community, drop us a line! We love to hear from you.
On how the left can win
When Megan listened to this episode, she texted Rebecca, “The pants analogy is going to stay with me.” Here’s the pants analogy: People buy pants based on “vibes” — a feeling of what’s on trend and what people around them are wearing — where it’s skinny jeans or flares or cargo pants. No one buys pants based on analysis. For those who are undecided on what style works for them, you don’t make pants with one skinny leg and one wide leg. You try to sell your style as the one everyone’s wearing.
“A lot of political opinion formation is similar to how people choose pants,” says journalist Anand Giridharadas. The undecided are trawling for cues about what to believe and support through social and cultural cues in media — and therein lies the opportunity to persuade the moveable middle.
You may remember James Carville as Bill Clinton’s lead strategist in his successful run for president in 1992. If you’re younger, you may confuse Carville’s voice with Benoit Blanc’s distinctive drawl. In this conversation about the 2022 midterm elections, Carville outlines next steps for Democrats and the left to win: simplify the message; reinforce and repeat the story; and develop and scale media and messaging infrastructure.
On the future of the labour movement
We’re fascinated with the different outcomes of contrasting approaches to worker organizing at Amazon. Chris Smalls and Rashad Long “went to Walmart, picked up two tables, four chairs, and a tent” and organized a walkout at a Staten Island Amazon warehouse, leading to the creation of the first-ever Amazon union in the US. Meanwhile, the high-profile drive at Bessemer, Alabama, led by the Retail Workers Union wasn’t successful. The difference, according to Smalls, was their consistent presence, standing at a nearby bus stop, greeting workers as they arrived and left for work each day.
Rebecca has always said, even though Together is a digital-first agency, our approach is meant to create more capacity and opportunities for the kind of boots-on-the-ground organizing that Smalls and Long did to pull off their big win—not replace it.
At the top of our reading list this year is Kim Kelly’s Fight Like Hell: An Untold History of American Labor. Kelly’s book offers an expanded definition of “working class” that is inclusive of “grad students or sex workers or workers who support Black Lives Matter and abortion rights.” Disability justice, reproductive rights, and ending transphobia are workers’ issues, Kelly argues — and we agree! Get a taste of Kelly’s rock-and-roll ethos and deep relationships in the labour movement in this interview by culture critic Anne Helen Petersen.
On humane approaches to work
One of our 2023 resolutions is to make time for rest. The idea of a Sabbath practice — a time of collective rest — is compelling to us because it recognizes the hard truth that in order to truly rest, everyone has to rest. As writer Judith Shulevitz notes on this podcast episode, “If it’s not happening collectively, it’s not going to happen.”
When we don’t apply best practices for accessibility when posting on social media, we’re excluding community members and preventing them from accessing valuable information. When we don’t recognize neurodiversity and address ableism in the workplace, we’re excluding some of the best minds from our sector. In learning about accessibility and disability justice, this webinar from She+ Geeks Out and the website Accessible Social were game changers for us. Check them out for practical tips to make your work and workplace truly inclusive.
On public perception of the third sector
This third annual report by Independent Sector on public trust in the US nonprofit and philanthropic sectors finds that trust in nonprofits is declining and 57% of Gen Z Americans say giving directly to individuals and causes makes a bigger impact than giving to nonprofits. Our work ahead is (re)gaining trust of key stakeholder communities by showing results, communicating a clear organizational mission, and showing the benefits to donors’ local communities.
NB: The 2022 report is not linked above. To read the full report, click here.