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Crafting a Snapshot Image to Promote Community Activism
Published by: themagicmuseum (16) on Fri, Aug 15, 2014  |  Word Count: 662  |  Comments ( 0)  l  Rating
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Continuing the theme of applying strategic imagery to promote community activism, I recount my own experience conjuring a picture to concentrate focus on a deserving cause.

Public forums often impose strict time limits on speakers. Such constraints demand that speakers resourcefully manage time, as in the case of a public hearing with an open microphone format that limits speakers to two-minute statements.

In such a circumstance, I planned a two-minute speech before a park commission considering levying a $7.00 admission fee to a botanical garden, a 40-acre urban oasis of exotic gardens and tranquil woods, all free of car traffic. This bucolic retreat is a haven for local residents. I feared that the imposition of an admission fee would deny many city residents access to their treasured refuge.

But this public forum posed a communication challenge. How can one significantly affect public policy when allotted only a two-minute statement?

Speaking against the proposed admission fee, I focused my speech on the daily activity surrounding a simple park bench that commanded a magnificent view of the gardens. This anchoring image was viewed through the chronology of a typical day, an account of the visitors who regularly used this bench to relax, read, talk, and enjoy the serenity.

I opened my presentation by asking, “What would a still camera focused on a single bench for an entire day reveal about visitors to the botanical gardens?” I then guided the board members through a daily chronology. Here follow a few excerpts:

Hearing the garden gates scrap open at 8:00 AM, a gaggle of geese scurry across the lawn to greet their fair lady who sits regally upon the bench. To the outside world this monarch of the gardens is a bag lady. But within her plastic garbage bag of worldly possessions she carries a loaf of bread, her daily offering for her feathered subjects…

At 9:00, Mrs. Jenkins, a retired elementary school teacher, who still tutors 5th and 6th graders every week, sits on the bench and opens her novel. She will read for an hour, every few minutes stopping to admire the grove of plum trees in spring blossom…

At noon, a harried young mother claims the bench. Here she can allow her 9-month old twins to crawl about with no worry of car traffic. How she treasures this daily hour of calm…

The day’s chronology of the park bench continues with a procession of eclectic occupants, like the four elderly men holding stemming cups of tea, speaking animatedly in Russian, debating politics and recalling boyhood memories.

Completing my chronology of this simple scene, I concluded with the following:

Let’s fast forward by six months our view of the bench, after the admission fee you are considering today has been imposed. The Russian quartet, the young mother, Mrs. Jenkins, and the patroness of geese, are all absent. These once faithful garden regular do not know each other and will not gather to collectively march with placards protesting the admission charge. Today I just wish, through a simple image, to tell a story of how a precious retreat would be taken from them.

The proposal for the admission fee was defeated.

About The Author:

The Magic Museum, The Isaacson Series in Youth Literature - An enchanting children's book that tells the story of a 12-year old skateboarder (Jack) and a ballerina (Jacqueline) who whispers to him from an Edgar Degas painting in a fine arts museum. A wonderful way for parents to introduce fine art and engage children (ages 8 to 12 years old) in the art of visual storytelling and imagination.
For More Information on The Magic Museum Book, visit - http://www.isaacsonseries.com
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