Writing a declaration for a nation requires extreme clarity. Not just vague ideas about “We want to help people. We want to make people’s lives better.” But clearly, what problem are you solving? And is that a problem that people are aware of? And how are you going to talk about that problem so that people can understand it, see their place in it, and be motivated to want to get involved?
We’re still in the process of writing and refining Treacy’s declaration. We hit yet another roadblock this week when we realized that we didn’t have a way to explain what we were doing without resorting to overused language.
So I might as well share the background with where our thought process has been going, so that this all makes sense. Here is the progression of how we’ve understood the problem, from the beginning of the month to now:
- 01/02/12: a family lifestyle photographer who wants to make a difference beyond her backyard
- 01/04/12: a photographer who is gifted at bringing out the best in family relationships and capturing real moments on film
- 01/09/12: a photographer who is concerned about self-image and how that affects relationships
- 01/18/12: a photographer who wants to fix disconnected family relationships (“family” meaning anyone that we have loyal, intimate relationships with)
- 01/20/12: a photographer who believes that disconnected family relationships are caused by people keeping an internal “record of wrong” for themselves and for the members of their family
- 01/27/12: a photographer who believes that the only way to change the disconnectedness of these family relationships is by keeping a record of right; replacing old assumptions about who we are and who other people are with the truth
And so we arrived at the problem. A big, giant, change-the-world problem. A problem worth solving.
Our first idea around this was that people could submit to voluntary brainwashing. Because Julianne and I are a bit rebellious, we loved this idea and really pushed for it. I mean sure, brainwashing has a negative connotation…but if it’s voluntary? I would totally sign up.
But it wasn’t Treacy’s thing. She couldn’t grab a hold of it, because it seemed a little on the negative side. Totally un-Treacy-like.
So then we started thinking about keeping a Record of Right. (And hey…recordofright.com is available! But oh wait…it looks like record o’ fright. Which is an entirely different thing.) But it felt very clinical, and it was hard to get excited about, without the context of “keeping a record of wrong”. Even in that context, it just wasn’t hitting it.
So you can see the challenge. We’ve known what the Great Good essentially is for a few weeks now, but explaining it in a way that isn’t trite or benign has been the struggle. So on Tuesday, Jules, Cali, Treacy, and I were having another brainstorming session.
We put it out there on Twitter…
Help us brainstorm…we’re in a jam session now. What’s a positive spin on brainwashing? What’s another metaphor for changing patterns?
— Sarah Bray + crew (@asmallnation) January 31, 2012
And then later…
Complete the phrase: Paradigm-shifting. It’s like when you…— Sarah Bray + crew (@asmallnation) January 31, 2012
Always count on Kenneth to provide the best responses:
A few of the other, more normal responses:
We almost gave up and decided to go the route of the 50s housewife:
Paradigm-shifting. It’s like when those ’50s housewives made food that looked like other things. You think it’s steak, but it’s really ____! — Sarah Bray + crew (@asmallnation) January 31, 2012
Obviously, we weren’t there yet. But yesterday, it clicked. We had the epiphany we were looking for. (Which reminds me of a joke I need to make up…how many epiphanies does it take to build a nation? I just need a punchline.) And so at this very moment, Treacy’s diligently working on her declaration, and then we’ll all refine it and sign it. And share it with you. Hooray!
(Oh yes, for more about why we’ve structure nation-building the way we have, check this out.)