The lightning round

November 1, 2016

Every year or so we pull all of Resource Media’s far flung colleagues together for a staff retreat, our one annual opportunity to share our perspectives, our work and a few good stories with one another. I just returned from a really good one feeling energized and inspired.

Like many social change organizations, we had an agenda replete with skills training, strategic planning and some structured dialogue about who we are as an advocacy organization and what we are fighting for in this world. But far and away my favorite part of our retreats is what we call the Lightning Round.

In the Lightning Round, everybody has an opportunity to stand in front of his or her colleagues and share something that matters to them in or out of their work life. There are no rules, only a lightly enforced 3-minute time limit. People share lessons learned, goals achieved, battles won, relationships made and questions to wrestle with down the road. This year we even got a dance lesson!

As a team of 23 scattered across nine zip codes from the Atlantic to the Pacific, it is impossible to keep up with what everyone else is up to throughout the year. But when we hit the pause button and make it a priority to share with one another, the picture that emerges is powerful. Whether people work in the back office or on the front lines, and whether they have been on board for 2 months or 2 decades, the scope and scale of their collective contributions to the fight for sustainability, health, justice and equity is inspiring, so much so that I want to share a few highlights.

Lighting up the Web

We’ve had a hand in designing, building and planning web sites this year to defend and promote community water fluoridation in Colorado, to track trends in the transition of our energy sector from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and to combat ocean acidification on a global scale. We even squeezed in a revamp of our own web site, complete with a new logo and Resource Media’s first ever equity commitment – a public expression of the values we strive to embody in the work that we do and the way that we do it.

Amplifying Indigenous Voices

While the Standing Rock Sioux fight to block the Dakota Access pipeline is finally capturing some much deserved attention, unfortunately that battle is just one of many taking place on lands and waters sacred to the indigenous people of North America. It was moving to learn how Resource Media staff were invited to help on two video projects to push back. In the Pacific Northwest, we helped the Quinault Indian Nation in their fight to prevent an oil export terminal from being built along the Washington Coast. And In Montana, we pitched in on a project to help the Blackfeet Nation stand up for their sacred lands in the Badger-Two Medicine by urging the federal government to cancel gas-drilling leases.

Targeting Stories, Far and Wide

A lot of what we do is what we’ve always done: help advocates tell the right stories to the right people at the right time and through the right channels. The past year has been no different as we wrote, pitched and placed stories to help shut down polluting coal plants, protect Marine World Heritage sites, introduce the world’s first beer made with the perennial grains that can help save our soil and stabilize our climate, pass legislation to declare California’s forests an integral part of water infrastructure, promote the U.S’ first #EnergyEfficiencyDay2016, protect fishing access in Montana and advance ideas for reforming our utility sector to accelerate clean energy development.

Big thanks to my colleagues who bring so much creativity and commitment to our work.  There’s a long road ahead, but a common sense of purpose to keep us moving forward.  Cheers to that.

John Lamson