Share the Weight, Share the Wealth

There’s nothing quite like initiating a new public project with a constructive goal. It can energize a person, spark a sense of purpose, and engender personal growth because it forces you to put your idea “out there” where others can assess its worth.

Initiating a new public project is also completely terrifying. It’s a tremendous amount of work to get a new idea off the ground, particularly if it’s unaffiliated with your job or schooling. It eats up most of your spare time, all of your energy, and maybe some of your money, too. It can really be worth it if you get going, but the financial and emotional barriers to getting started are prohibitive.

My experience with #WiTOpoli is that a few passionate, intelligent collaborators can break down these barriers. By distributing the weight of expectations and hard work across multiple pairs of shoulders, the daunting task of translating an idea into reality becomes manageable – fun, even. You have the benefit of five people’s contact networks, five people’s pocketbooks, and obviously five people’s brains. The trick is to find people as excited about the mission as you are, and even that doesn’t have to be so tricky.

I connected with most of my #WiTOpoli collaborators through Twitter. Since I followed them, I knew what they tweeted about, giving me a sense of who might be interested in what I was trying to do. The connections we forge on Twitter are typically based on shared interests, making it an ideal avenue for recruiting compatriots to your cause. It’s important to meet them in person though, as this can give you a better sense of how committed they are to the idea and how much time they’re able to volunteer to translate it into action.

Once you have your trusted collaborators on board, the rest seems easy. A new task rears its head, you ask the group who can take it on, someone volunteers, and it gets done: rinse, repeat. Eventually you build a rhythm with your group, learn which tasks are best suited to which folks, and things go even more smoothly. Before you know it, you’re launching the initiative – it sneaks up on you, almost as if it materialized out of thin air.

After May 23’s #WiTOpoli: The Comment Section, the talented Leah Bobet (@leahbobet) felt inspired to blog about the many tangible ideas and next steps that our panelists and audience members floated that night. One of those ideas, the Ward Auxiliaries (read the blog for details!), has already started to become a reality. Shortly after the blog was posted, Leah found a collaborator in Shawnte Clow (@Shawnte), who brought a Ward Auxiliary sign-up sheet to #WiTOpoli: The Front Page on May 30 (see below for pictures from that event snapped by Nick Warzin, aka: @tapesonthefloor). The sign-up sheet had already exceeded four pages by the time she got to me. I can’t wait for my ward’s first meet-up.

This is how change happens. It takes a lot of work, but having partners-in-crime that you can trust to not just help, but to create, makes that work pretty damn doable. In the words tweeted by my closest collaborator, Jessica Spence (@jmspence): “It’s amazing to see what a few motivated people can do in such a short time with nothing but Twitter & tenacity.”

-Steph Guthrie (@amirightfolks)

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