Yesterday I walked around the golf course all afternoon knowing there was something I was supposed to do in the evening but not remembering the alleged task. What I was supposed to do and didn’t do was drive down to da city (a.k.a. New York City) and go to the Barnes & Noble store on Manhattan’s trendy Upper West Side. Why was I supposed to be in the Big Apple when I ended up watching a movie on Amazon’s Prime? Because Shannon Watts was at the B&N signing copies of her new book!
When was the last time Wayne LaPierre did a national book tour? Frankly, the only national trip Wayne-o’s probably going to take is the one where they’ll shackle him into a seat and drive around the country from one prison to the next until they get to the joint where he’s going to spend a few years.
Shannon, on the other hand, is going to be appearing in cities all over the country during the next several weeks (schedule below) and if you happen to be within driving distance of any of those locations, you should really make an effort to show up. Because if you haven’t met Shannon, you’re in for a real treat. And more important, if a big group shows up at every stop, it’s a way of announcing that what she has done is what was needed to be done, namely, to level the playing field in the argument about guns, a playing field which right now even seems to be tilting towards the side on which she stands.
Let me make one point clearly here and now. I am not (read: not) an advocate for either side in the gun debate. I happen to be a bone-fide gun nut, I’m also just as nutty about the need to engage in informed and honest debate. If this country decides that guns really are more of a benefit than a risk, that’s fine. On the other hand, if this country decides to get rid of all the damn things, that’s fine with me too. I just want that decision to be based on a clean bill of particulars and not based on emotion and hot air.
What is so valuable about Shannon’s book is that she opens it with a description of her emotional reaction to the Newtown massacre, a reaction based not just on the event itself with the attendant loss of life, but the fact that she also had children who attended a school not much different from the elementary school at Sandy Hook.
What makes this book so valuable, however, is that Shannon then explains how her emotions morphed into an action plan, how she then morphed this plan into a national, organizational effort, and most important, how this transition becomes a template for moving from feelings, to thoughts, to plans, to action, regardless of the issue itself. What makes the text so compelling is that it is not just a series of anecdotes about the achievements (and frustrations) of building MOMS, it’s also a ‘how to’ manual for creating an advocacy movement with a particular focus on assets which women can bring to whatever cause they choose.
Finally, and here is where the book really worked for me, Shannon operates under no illusions about the positives and negatives of using social media to build an organization and run an advocacy campaign. Of course it’s easy to reach lots of people by using the web, it also can get you bogged down in all sorts of issues that simply make it more difficult to get done what needs to get done.
Buy it. Read it. Dig it. And here’s where you can meet Shannon and she’ll autograph your copy of her book: June 4 – Boulder Bookstore, Boulder, CO. June 5 – Tattered Cover, Denver, CO. June 6 – Politics and Prose at the Wharf, Washington, DC. June 11 – Sonoma Speakers Series, Sonoma, CA. June 12 – The Commonwealth Club, San Francisco, CA. June 13 – Kepler’s Books, Menlo Park, CA. June 14 – Rakestraw Books, Danville, CA.