Establishing Relevance: Advocating for Yourself, Others, or Causes you Care About
Recently, through my membership within the Windsor Masonic Temple, I have been the Committee Chair for the Windsor Masonic Temple’s “For The Next 100 Years” Project.
The purpose of this project is to advocate for and find funding that will allow the Windsor Masonic Temple to preserve, maintain, and upgrade its facilities, ensuring the Temple remains for the people of Windsor and Essex County a place of friendship, community, and heritage.
As the director of Square & Compass Promotions, I have been promoting this project to encourage other heritage buildings (including Masonic buildings) to consider similar advocacy and similar projects.
As both the committee chair for and a promoter of this project, one lesson that struck me as particularly relevant and perhaps helpful: the necessity of establishing relevancy when advocating for oneself, others, or causes one cares about. This advocacy could apply to a variety of applications-including appying for scholarships (in the case of students).
Relevance is defined as: “the quality or state of being closely connected or appropriate.”
To find success in advocacy, whether it be advocating for oneself, others, or causes one cares about, closely connecting the cause for which one is advocating with the audience is of vital importance.
Relevance can be (using the Windsor Masonic Temple as a case-study):
The Windsor Masonic Temple hosts coffee clubs, a Scottish Rite Learning Centre, dancers and has been home to numerous open-houses, graduations, holiday dinners, coffee roastings, and the cherished memories of countless community members. These memories were collected via social media and community connections. Windsor Masonic Temple members also took part in community events, such as a 2017 Cornerstone Ceremony at Windsor’s new City Hall, district services, parades, and more.
When advocating at/with the City of Windsor on its “For The Next 100 Years” project, one thing I pointed out was that City of Windsor support could be used to assist in applying for federal and provincial grants, which could result in significant funds arriving in Windsor and Essex.
In 2021, the Mayor of the City of Windsor wrote “in 1921, when construction of the Windsor Masonic Temple got underway, it set the foundation of what would become one of the city’s most treasured landmarks, the treasured and ornate building on the corner of Erie and Ouellette.” This demonstrates that the building is relevant to the public because it adds to Windsor’s architectural and historical character.
The grants for which I was advocating included funds for improvements that would result in a significant reduction in the Windsor Masonic Temple’s carbon footprint and a significant improvement in energy efficiency.
The Windsor Masonic Temple posted pictures of its interior and exterior on social media, and invited community members to share stories and pictures from the same. The Windsor Masonic Temple kept records on the number of communities members that shared these stories, and also how many community members took part in open houses, community dinners, and other Windsor Masonic Temple events.
When you are advocating for something you care about, how do you establish relevance?
- Tell a story! Tell your story! Establish your story! People respond to stories. Whether for a place, a person, or a cause-advocacy is more likely to succeed if you tell a story! Writing concisely, in first person, with the active voice (and avoiding elegant variation) effectively tells a story.
- Establishing Relevance is not just about memories or past performance: it’s about the future. If you are applying for a scholarship, don’t just talk about past successes; what does your future hold! I entitled the Windsor Masonic Temple’s project “For The Next 100 Years” to communicate hope and excitement for the future.
Example: Applying for a Legal Scholarship
Don’t say: “The environment is something about which I care deeply. My legal education will be used to protect nature. My love of the environment is due to…(26 words)
Say: “I care deeply about the environment. I will use my legal education to protect the environment. I care about the environment because…(22 words)
People are busy. To establish relevancy, you need to tell a story quickly, effectively, and concisely-get to the point! A good rule of thumb (taken from Stephen King) is: “2nd draft = 1st draft — 10%”
Some other ways to establish relevancy include:
- Ask your Municipal Government (City Council, Mayor), local dignitaries, or relevant individuals such as teachers to write letters discussing and establishing your issues relevance (or City, Province, Country, School, etc).
- Review local newspapers, find articles, advertisements, or stories related to events which have occurred or are occurring relevant to your issue.
- Post about your issue on social media, and invite others to comment and do the same.
- Take part in community events or find other locations to present on your issue.
- Keep tokens or business cards that establish the relevance of your issue.
The above represent just a few ideas-I am sure you have more!
All opinions expressed are those of Square & Compass Promotions and the guest(s), and do not reflect the opinions of the Windsor Masonic Temple and/or any masonic group.
Le Masonic Temple de Windsor surpasse les attentes avec son projet « Pour les 100 prochaines années » qui a été rendu possible grâce au généreux soutien du Gouvernement du Canada, de la municipalité de Windsor et de nombreux autres partenaires locaux. « Ce projet est financé [en partie] par le Gouvernement du Canada. »