Connecting the Dots

A few months ago, when Lisa and I were brainstorming about a diapers-and-wipes donation drive, we had no clue where this was all going—no thought of ending up on the radio, or inspiring otherdiaper drives in other cities, or stumbling into a thriving, dynamic network of people trying to make a real difference with seemingly small acts. We have met some incredible folks along the way who’ve kept challenging and encouraging us to see the connections between the personal and the political, the economic and the social.

Last Friday we had the honor of meeting in person one of our newly minted Internet superheroes, Julie of TangoBaby. We all met up at San Francisco City Hall to lend our support to a coalition of homeless families and their advocates who were holding a press conference. It was great to see up-close and off-line some of the peeps we’ve been Tweeting and emailing with; say what you will about the ease of online communication, it really can’t compare to talking face to face. We got the bonus of talking to some reporters about our diaper drive as we waited for things to get rolling—a number of them thought that we, with Lisa’s kids in tow, were part of the press conference, so we took the opportunity to explain that we were allies. (Lisa and kids did end up on TV, but only as background images.)

But for me, the real highlight of the day was getting to meet Mama K and her family—the folks who jump-started Julie’s quest, and who provided a huge inspiraton for me and Lisa too. I’m sure K doesn’t want to be the poster child for anyone’s movement; she’s just trying to live her life and secure the best possible future for her kids and herself. And it’s a big cliché to talk about how humbling it is to meet someone who is so gracious under enormous stress, and yet it’s undeniable that putting a face on a story—whether it’s of homelessness or illness or foreclosure—helps people to connect even more strongly. To see that it isn’t all text and tweets and html: It’s real life.