Let’s face it, no matter how good of an activist you are, you cannot accomplish widespread policy change without the help and support of others. As leaders of today, we should be empowering the next generation of reformers to become new champions of our cause. In my experience there are a few simple things that can make a big difference in helping someone else find their own voice. Here are five ways that you can empower others:
Share What You Know: If you have a special talent, or possess knowledge that could benefit the work others are doing, share it. Offer to run a workshop, panel, or other chapter event that will help teach your allies how to become a more effective advocate for our cause. Create Safe Spaces: At SSDP, We create change by bringing young people together and creating safe spaces for students of all political and ideological stripes to have honest conversations about drugs and drug policy. You should make your chapter meetings and events a place where others feel comfortable and included. You can work to create safe spaces by welcoming new people, opinions, ideas, and feedback. Nobody wants to be part of a group that doesn’t acknowledge their concerns. Listen to what others have to say, and take their advice to heart. The strongest SSDP chapters are those that embrace collaboration, partnership, learning, diversity, and inclusion. Nurture Talent In Others: If you notice someone has a talent or skill that they aren’t putting to use, let them know. Gently offer suggestions of where they may go to learn more, and offer to help them cultivate their own talents into action. As a chapter leader, you can do this by creating projects or chapter positions for them to work in that focus on their talents. Project Positivity: Give encouragement instead of criticism. Think positive, act positive, and eliminate negative thoughts when working with others, and they will in turn reflect that positivity back towards the cause. Thoughtful encouragement and advice will empower, whereas harsh criticism will often deprive others of inspiration. Encourage Social Activities: Plan social activities for your chapter. Engaging in fun activities and social bonding experiences make working as a group much more effective. Don’t be strangers! It’s a lot easier to change policies when you are doing it alongside your friends. Great chapter event ideas that you can host are ice cream socials, pizza parties, documentary film screenings, dance parties, and camping trips. So get to work strengthening your chapter today!