Both Ends of the Spectrum

Posted: April 15, 2012 in General
Tags: , , , , , ,

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the Atheist festival that happened on Fort Bragg and the things I observed as what went wrong in bringing it to its lackluster conclusion.  Feel free to brush up here The Exclusion Delusion.

Okay, now that you are all caught up and know what not to do when planning and executing an event in which you are expecting thousands of people to show up, read about a little success on the opposite end of the spectrum God Belongs In My City.

This was from a local PATCH article that was published the day of the event.  In search for an electronic copy of the newspaper article I read describing the event the morning after, I discovered that this has actually grown to a larger than local movement with chapters all across the country.  This brings me to my discussion on what went “right” with this event and how people should take note when they  want to host something in the future.

First, what went right is the brainchild of a youth pastor was born of a positive note and the word was spread so that it took wings and developed rather quickly.

Second, while this could be viewed as a somewhat exclusionary event, just like RBB was, there were actually people who joined the 1.5 mile walk as they were sitting in traffic after they found out what was going on in front of them.

The event was distinctly “Christian” in nature, yet it attracted people from all denominations.  RBB on the other hand, had the backing of the larger secular organizations, but it was given in an attempt to show some allegiance in the “cause”, not as a show of faith in the ability of the organizer to gather a crowd and provide a positive event.

4000 people managed to show up on Hay Street in Fayetteville to walk in support of their cause.  This was done with little to no publicity that was presented publicly.  Two years in the making and RBB from my observation had about 300 people on the field at the start of festivities.  The crowd never really exceeded that based on the photos I saw from friends who attended, despite the claims of the organizer of 1000 to 1500.

I could go on and on about the different levels of success and what benchmarks should be used to measure it.  The truly key differences are easy to figure out, especially when viewed from the outside.  Just a few highlights for anyone planning an event of any type in which you hope to attract a lot of people to support your cause.

No matter what your belief system, you cannot be a polarizing force and be a successful organizer for very long.

Larger organizations that back a movement need to be able to separate themselves from the event.  You need to look at the image that is being portrayed by the local organizer and weigh it against the greater goals you hope to achieve.

Bad publicity, is just that bad publicity.  It may gain you the looks you desire, but it just solidifies the fact that you lack the maturity and  proper mentorship to be a success and create something enduring.  It is simply a track to obscurity.

Put your idea out and let it take root and grow.  Some crops grow quickly, others take some more time.  If an idea takes multiple years to grow to maturity  and you end up with a home garden rather than a bumper crop, maybe bullshit is not the fertilizer you should have used.

Do not speak as if you are the sole voice of change for people.  It does not take years of experience to look at something and realize that there are things wrong with it, but before you proclaim yourself as the voice of change to how the military sees your belief or lack of belief system, and the others you have found to hang on your every word, perhaps you should take a look around and see if the others actually want you to represent them.  Maybe a good portion of the problems you speak of with your vast amounts of experience are actually of your own inexperience and limited exposure.

Do spread your idea with as much positivity as possible.  Just like negativity is contagious.  Unlike negativity, however, it does not have a short life-span.  It does not take as much effort to sustain.  Think of the whole “how many facial muscles it takes to frown versus smile” discussion and extrapolate that out into your planning.

When dealing with opposition, there will be occasional skirmishes.  Given each side of this particular posting, it is a natural for this particular argument.  You can take a skirmish and turn it into a full-scale battle, you may even fire all your points in and present your arguments in an intelligible manner, that does not mean you have actually won.  The means in which you choose to elevate something and the manner in which you conduct it speak volumes.  If you are trying to represent a particular “cause” the manner in which you present yourself also reflects on the cause or movement as well.  Just a small example; if you are military you can attend a political rally.  What you cannot do is stand up there and speak for it while in uniform or represent yourself as a member of the military.  As a member of the military, it would appear as if the military actually sanctions that with which you spoke of.  Bad for business all the way around.

The final key to success is to choose your mentors wisely.  The knowledge they impart to you and the doors they can open up for you are the make or break factors in anything.  No matter how good the idea, it takes experience and a network to get it out there and bring it success.  Choose wisely and you can walk with a brigades worth of people through the middle of town and have people join the ranks all along the way.  Choose the kind that would rather have you generate negative publicity and guide you towards career suicide and you end up with a companies worth of followers, that probably would have been there anyway, with a few stragglers you can convince with the allure of controversy rather than the foundation of substance.


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