ISAIAH: Systematic Advocacy

It suddenly made a lot of sense when I heard Martha Wegner, one of the original ISAIAH core team members at Gloria Dei, explain it this way. “We’re great at doing charity work here at Gloria Dei,” she told a group of us learning about the need for sick and safe leave time for St. Paul workers. “But what if we also worked to reduce the conditions that lead people to need charity?”

Rather than continually plugging holes in the dam holding our social systems together, what if we all worked together to build a stronger dam? It can be done as we saw happen with St. Paul adopting one of the strongest sick and safe leave ordinances in the nation. ISAIAH folks turned out in large numbers and shared compelling stories with our city leaders to enact the ordinance in 2016. Similar efforts a year later helped convince Gov. Dayton to veto state legislative attempts to overturn such local decisions.

It also makes me experience the truth in what noted anthropologist Margaret Mead once said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Thor Carlson