Winnable Victories

I had an old faded yellow Subaru wagon once that I had to jump start to get going.

I got in the habit of always parking it on level ground.  I would open the driver’s door, lean my shoulder up against the doorframe – and push. With just a good solid effort I could get it to move, and once I had gotten past the inertia, it would begin to roll. Then with even less effort I could get it rolling nicely, jump in, pop the clutch and I was off.

It was a great feeling. Here was a car that looked big and heavy, and yet I could get it rolling all by myself if I just put my weight against it and gave it my all. I did it over and over again, reluctant to have it repaired and lose the satisfaction of this empowering ritual.

Being an activist is like that every day.  The challenges seem big and impossible to shift. And that first shove, to get past the inertia of what often seem like immovable obstacles, is daunting.

I rely on the advice of Saul Alinsky again and again.  “Choose winnable victories,” is the way his words were told to me. They have been a lifeline of optimism and determination, keeping me from drowning in doubt and discouragement.

Growing new, successful, small-scale sustainable farms all over the United States, and helping the ones we have survive and thrive seems a winnable victory if we just take it one old broken Subaru at a time.