We call ourselves a state-wide group here at TCASK, so with a staff of only two (both here in Nashville) we have to spend a lot of time traveling. In about 10 minutes, we’ll be heading out to Jackson, TN, to meet with a initial group of people interested in working to end capital punishment. Sounds easy enough, no?
Well, frankly, no. This meeting, I am here to tell you, does not simply happen. So let’s go back to October, and the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Conference which, coincidentally enough, was held in Jackson. The TCASK staff attended, as the only none mental health care organization by the way, and while there we stayed at the house of a person who had been in contact with the state office. The afternoon the conference ended, we met with him and his wife and a wonderful lady from a local church who’s involved in all kinds of social justice organizations. And thus we started. After getting back to Nashville, we initially tried to set up a presentation at the local Catholic church, but were thwarted by busy schedules, so, back to the drawing board, and Margaret Meade “Never doubt that a small group of dedicated people can change the world,” she said.” In fact, it’s the only thing that ever has.” So maybe we need to find a small group of dedicated people.
So back to the phone to our Jackson contact I went, but with a simpler request. Five names. Five people in her community who she thinks would be interested, able, and helpful in working against the death penalty. So we got five names (then later it became seven and the even ten, but I digress). Which led to five letters, one to each person, explaining who I was, what TCASK does, why I was contacting them, and what we’d like to accomplish. Then five phone calls. OK, that’s not at all true, it was far more than five phone calls to get everyone.
“We’d like to have a meeting sometime in these two weeks. What days wouldn’t work for you?”
Repeat until you’ve spoken to everyone. Then schedule a day, and call back.
“Hi, thanks again for your interest. So after talking to everyone I’ve scheduled our meeting for _____. You’d said that was workable for you. Can you still meet?”
And eventually, you have a meeting. Hard work? Yes. A little frustrating? Yes. But now several clergy members, a former elected official, a college professor, a retired brother, and several hard working folks are sitting down tonight to discuss how to end the death penalty. Worth a little frustration? Oh most definitely.
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