There were a quite a few times throughout the past few weeks where I felt low in spirits and there are many reasons as to why I felt this way; but they all pointed to the same things. I didn’t have this feeling because of the stress that comes with what we were doing, but because of the apathy that I encountered on a daily basis. Or at least I perceived many of my encounters with people as their being apathetic.
I remember one particular day after canvassing at a farmers’ market where I didn’t feel like I was getting through to people about this dire issue we were working on. I’m not from this area and this pipeline won’t affect me, but I still really care about the work that is being put into this movement. I still dedicated my summer to these campaigns that are going on, so why don’t people care?
After every conversation I had with someone, I felt like they listened to what I had to say, but that was it. There was no direct follow up (mostly because we aren’t in each area for long) and we personally wouldn’t see what they would do after one of us had a conversation with them. One teammate said something about how even though we don’t see directly how these conversations with people affect them, it is like setting off a little spark. They will take that information and keep it somewhere, maybe in the back of their brain, but the next time they hear of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline or natural gas, they will think about how there are people working against it.
These little sparks remind me of something Marla said to us before we departed on our journeys this summer, the same talk I mentioned in my last blog post. Part of this work is “running around setting off little sparks.” For example, the Keystone XL pipeline is just one of many pipelines that are proposed at the moment, but it is one that has caught on and has created a fire within people. As organizers, we run around setting off these sparks, too see which one of them catches.
So a conversation with a person can be like a spark, most of them won’t catch, but when one does it may just turn into a roaring fire.