Netroots Dispatch: Building Trust, Building Coalitions

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This post was generated live at Netroots Nation 2011 in Minneapolis, MN.

I want to offer one more post today synthesizing what I addressed in my previous two posts today. In both, I spoke to the partnerships between groups and strategies that are often perceived as antagonistic, and in this third post, I want to make sense of that in a discussion about trust.

Trust between individuals and groups can be incredibly difficult to build and requires outreach in both directions. Organizations need to be able to trust that the bloggers who may very well criticize them and hold them accountable are committed to the same efforts of LGBT equality. Likewise, bloggers need to be able to trust that the organizations are prioritizing the movement over the organization and that their strategies are an effective approach to the desired solutions. In the same vein, insider and outsider organizations need to be able to trust that the strategy of the other is ultimately contributing to the success, not creating new obstacles.

In achieving this trust across the movement, risks have to be taken. Insider organizations have a particular obligation to earn trust with other leaders in the movement. By including them in off-the-record conversations about their strategy, they can entrust bloggers, direct action groups, and others with certain tips that can accentuate the campaign. Ego cannot get in the way of this happening; if any particular group or individual attempts to take full credit on an initiative, they are effectively eliminating the potential to build a coalition.

Likewise, as skeptical as “outsiders” might be, giving the insiders a certain benefit of doubt goes a long way to building the bridge of trust from the other direction. There are definitely times when a blogger’s investigation can blow the lid on what might have been a very successful strategy. My hope would be that insider orgs see the value of blogger and queer media perspectives, even if it’s not the picture they would paint. Effective communication across that bridge can alleviate all of these problems; bloggers can honor the confidentiality of the big orgs as the orgs bring the bloggers into the over-arching strategy.

I’ll leave it at that for now. This is a complicated paradigm change we must achieve, but it’s built on lessons learned from campaigns over the past decade. If we can tap into that greater synergy and see the interacting potential of diverse strategies across the movement, our in-fighting will come to an end and our success will be guaranteed.

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