A whole bunch of us Center folks – Erin, Jeannie, Jennifer, Jack and I – were in Los Angeles two weeks ago to do a training for their Prop 99 and CPPW funded agencies about the Midwest Academy strategy chart. One section of the training was devoted to thinking about the fact that your strategy chart is not a permanent document you create once in a campaign, but rather something you adjust as you learn more facts you in your campaign. Or run into problems. At the training, small groups each worked on a scenario dealing with some of the common problems we’ve seen tobacco coalitions and campaigns face time and time again across the state:
- When you present to the city council, they say they don’t believe there is a problem in your city
- You’ve been working with a champion on the city council but now he/she won’t include some of the important provisions in the ordinance or is making compromises in the ordinance you don’t agree with
- The city you are working with is going through its own problems (such as a council member or city manager is thrown out on ethics violations)
- The city council hands the issue over to a taskforce or community committee which co-ops the issue and has a solution of their own that you don’t support (such as a voluntary policy)
- A key ally of yours, who in fact is your main connection to and contact with your city council champion, changes his/her position on the issue or leaves the campaign due to retirement or a move
As all of you start to work on your new campaigns and your new strategy charts, it is important to remember that the reason to develop an in depth strategy chart and build a campaign with outsider strategies is because of these potential problems. Ideally you’ll never face these situations. But many campaigns do run into these circumstances (or a hundred variations of them). And that’s when you’ll need to be as strategic as possible, relying on a strong group of allies who can put pressure on the elected officials through well thought out tactics as part of an outsider campaign.
So, as you start strategizing with your communities it might be valuable to think with them about what you would do if these situations arise in your community. Who would you turn to? What could your coalition do? How can you prepare yourself? And how can you develop a strong strategy to get ready?
– Vanessa Marvin