Ask Surly Amy: How Can I Help?
First off: I’m a long time fan of Skepchick and the SGU, you RULE! I work in a natural history museum, as an informal science educator. I see thousands of people, answer questions, explain basic science. When you talk about scientific illiteracy in the US, you get the news from survey data. I see it first hand. Every. Single. Day. I explain that the Earth goes around the Sun, that animals evolved, that fish are animals, etc. But I love my job. I love making a complex topic accessible, the “wow” moment when somebody understands. I love it and I want to move beyond the narrow confines of my museum. I have no idea how. There is so much media available to people now that I feel like anything I might do is a tiny voice against howling ignorance. I feel powerless and lost. I’m hoping you’ll have some advice. Thanks for reading.
This is a question that we get asked rather frequently. And the answer I usually give is that every single person that is interested in educating the public or helping with humanism, atheism or organized skepticism has something to wonderful to offer. However, it is up to each individual person to figure out what they feel passionate about and in what capacity they feel comfortable helping.
For one thing, you should never feel that your voice is tiny. Every little bit helps and almost every loud voice of authority or of popularity once started off as a nobody. And with today’s media options a tiny voice can become louder faster than ever before.
My advice? First find an outlet that you feel comfortable expressing yourself in and then dedicate a regular chunk of your time to that. Maybe YouTube videos will be your thing, or podcasting or maybe it’s traditional blogging or perhaps you will want to tweet your words of wisdom or maybe you will want to build a nonprofit organization that sends women to science events or design a public art display that will educate and inspire – I could go on and on. Yes, the possibilities are quite vast. But whatever outlet you pick just remember to dedicate yourself to it so find what is most comfortable to you. Whatever it is you pick, you have to cultivate and love it like a baby. That means update whatever it is regulary. If you want to build an audience you have to offer something of value on a regular schedule.
Another bit of advice is that being an activist for social change or a public educator is a lot like running a business. You have to really love what you are doing because some days it will be hard as hell to get out of bed and keep at it. Nothing is easy. Even eating ice-cream everyday gets tedious sometimes. Whatever you decide to do you HAVE to keep at it. One of the pieces of advice I often give to people is this: Do something everyday to make tomorrow better. It could be something tiny but as long as you do a little bit of work on your project everyday it will make your tomorrow better and easier in the long run. If you follow that advice, you will have a good chance of building something great, be that a business, a voice or a movement. Dedication is important.
So my advice in a nutshell is, find a topic you love and an outlet you feel comfortable in and start speaking out or working on it on a regular basis. We need you!
If you come up with a specific project that you need our help with or have something you would like our input on please contact us in the future. We do love to help out when we can!
Thanks for writing in and I hope this was helpful.
Got a question you would like some Surly-Skepchick advice on? Send it in! We won’t publish your real name, unless you want us to and creative pseudonyms get bonus points! Just use the contact link on the top left of the page.
Photos © Amy Davis Roth