Earlier this month, Precision co-founder Jen O’Malley Dillon hosted an engaging panel at SXSW, called “Moment. Momentum. Movement.” Joined by Jess Morales Rocketto (National Domestic Workers Alliance), Michael Skolnik (Soze Agency), Amanda Litman (Run for Something), and a crowded ballroom of SXSW attendees, the conversation centered on what building a movement means and what it really takes to create meaningful change, no matter the cause.
The conversation came at an important time: just after Black History Month and on International Women’s Day. As Michael noted, the moment served as an important reminder of the generations of organizing, advocacy, and social pressure behind each cultural and political movement. Though each panelist brought a unique perspective from working closely with change-focused organizations such as March for Our Lives, Run for Something, and Families Belong Together, they all agreed that movements don’t simply appear from thin air when a notable moment arises. Building a movement takes years of preparation, starts, successes, and failures. As Jess put it, just because you don’t always see it, it doesn’t mean the crucial work of building toward change isn’t happening.
When a moment comes that inspires people to take action — such as the Parkland school shooting for gun control activists — support and participation help build momentum around that cause. As Amanda noted, a movement’s success often relies on building infrastructure and an onramp for that participation. And, when it comes down to it, a strong movement requires powerful organizers with the energy and stamina to work toward change day after day, even when the headline-grabbing moment passes.
One of the most exciting parts of the conversation centered on the future of this work and the impact it can have. Several panelists noted how encouraged they are by the younger generation participating in movements they believe in, and how they as organizers and movement builders have a duty to support those who don’t yet have a strong voice — particularly those who represent marginalized groups. As Jen reminded the audience at the close, “We’re not talking about this in the abstract.” There are so many fronts on which we can build momentum and create positive change for people across the country. And at Precision, we’re driven by that reality, and proud to support clients in strategically organizing and building successful movements.