The Bernie Sanders For President rally in Oakland produced the longest line I’ve ever seen:
I’m in there somewhere but good luck finding me. The line stretched for 1.3 miles!
Apparently 30,000 people showed up. To put that in perspective, that’s approximately 1,000 times the attendance of my last birthday party, which at the time was considered a modest success. But no longer.
Presidential campaigns rise or fall based on who shows up to events like this Sanders rally. But the importance of showing up extends far beyond mega-events. If you care about something, you’ve got to show up and support it with your presence.
As the years have passed, time has taught me why it’s important to show up. Whether it’s the big rallies or the 2-person meeting in my neighbor’s living room, I try to be there. Here’s some photos from memory lane…
Here’s me speaking at City Hall in support of the release of the Peak Oil Task Force report (2009). This was one of my first times speaking in the heart of officialdom. It was intimidating but gratifying…
I was present at the opening of our local farmers’ market (I’m holding a mic, bottom right) (2009). By being there I wanted to let my neighbors know that I thought this was an important moment for the community…
On that occasion, I walked around the large room, looked every SFMTA employee in the eyes, and thanked them for the project. Their faces brightened. These meetings mostly attract people with a negative axe to grind and nobody from the SFMTA enjoys being there.
“What if”, I said to myself “the MTA folks were treated like heroes at these events?” Throngs of people could show up, not to complain but to say “Yes, I support this. This is a good direction. Thank you for doing this!” Eventually, instead of the frustratingly slow pace of improvements we’d see the exciting changes we all deserve.
“80 percent of success is showing up.”
– Woody Allen
The world depends on you showing up. Presidential candidates base their campaigns on you showing up. Your neighbors who are struggling to get anyone showing up to block meetings, they need you to show up. Local officials want to make bold changes where you live, but you need to show up to meetings and voice your support. Otherwise, the complainers will win the day. As an organizer, trust me: Whether or not you show up can determine whether or not a great idea manifests or dies. Your support gives changemakers the energy to continue. By showing up, you are a changemaker.
Look around. What kinds of changes do you want to see? What kinds of meetings and social events are going on? Show up to those gatherings as often as you can. Perhaps you could commit to showing up a certain number of times a month. And speak up if you’re able, be a positive presence. Smile, shake hands, and say “Thank you for doing this. I support you.”