A Trickle-down Language of Optimism

One project I’m involved in (with a team of other Annenberg masters students) is building an integrated brand and organizational comm strategy for a group called UPAC — an alliance of law enforcement officers who volunteer their time to conduct gang prevention and intervention work in South LA.  More on this specific effort later.

As part of my prep work, however, this weekend I attended a grassroots summit of similar organizations operating in the rough neighborhoods under LAX’s long flight path.  The groups in attendance for the most part didn’t have websites or prestigious boards, much less any real sources of funding.  They were made up of former gang members and graduates of the school where the meeting was held, a building that saw two gang-related shooting deaths earlier this Fall and was dramatized by a Denzel Washington movie almost as old as I am.  These are the people who silently broker 2 AM truces between rival gang factions to prevent shooting wars in their own neighborhoods.

In the face of every statistic and circumstance stacked against these men and women, the language of each speaker in the room was filled with determined and empowered hope.  In many cases, in fact, it was the exact language used by the president-elect whose recent victory filled the room with energy.

I sat there as speaker after speaker took the stage to share their mission with the community.  It quickly became clear that Obama’s success story was more than a symbolic truimph over racial barriers; his victory was built on more than scrappy organizing and commanding fundraising.  Barack’s brand of hope codified a language of optimism, a language that resonates powerfully in diverse contexts around the country.

What can that language do in your community?

© Ryan Cunningham 2008

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thoughts at the collision of business, brand and creativity

I'm Ryan Cunningham. I help companies and culture play nice with each other. At CREATURE we call this Brand Strategy, a term that carries a nice halo of reliability and structure. Here, I'm just another guy who thinks about the world and writes it down from time to time.

The result is a pile of knowledge to be used in, and for, the future. Feel free to sift through the heap for useful connections.

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