When you’re working to shift culture, it’s easy to get stuck in the weeds, faced with a lot of challenges. A vision statement helps you envision what you want to achieve so that you can bring others into your work, inspire financial and practical support for your project, and always know what you’re working towards. A good vision statement helps keep you excited and passionate about your work, makes sure you stay on target, and helps others understand what you’re trying to accomplish. A good vision statement is also short, clear, and inspiring! There are a lot of ways to generate vision statements. Here are two we like to use:
Imagine the future you’re working towards: What would newspaper headlines in 20 years look like once you achieve your goal. How would a headline describe your success?
Brainstorm: Individually or as part of a group, brainstorm responses to prompts like: “I won’t be satisfied until…”; “We’ll have won when…”; “The world I believe in will…”. Review and synthesize these statements to develop your vision statement.
In 1963, American sociologist Erving Goffman described stigma as a mark or “attribute that is deeply discrediting” and that “reduces an individual from a whole and usual person to a tainted, discounted one.” Since Goffman’s groundbreaking book on stigma, researchers and practitioners have applied his concepts to understand the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, the mentally ill, people living with HIV and AIDS, sex workers, and other marginalized groups.
In 2001, Link and Phelan expanded our understanding of stigma by conceptualizing stigma as a social process in which individuals are (1) labeled as different, (2) stereotyped or associated with negative attributes, (3) conceived of as an “other,” and then (4) subjected to status loss and discrimination.
In 2009, Kumar, Hessini and Mitchell expanded on these models of stigma by applying them to the specific case of abortion.
From September 2016 to February 2017, the Culture Change Strategy Group --a collaboration of top thinkers, artists, researchers, and advocates in reproductive health, rights, and justice-- met to create an aligned vision, values, and strategies to shift culture around abortion. In January 2018, more than 160 organizations from the US and around the world signed onto the vision statement and shared it in a collaborative social media campaign with the hashtag #vision4abortion.
Sea Change also developed a vision that we used to develop our program goals and measure progress that is encompassed in the word VOICE: Visibility, Openness, Integration, Connection, Empowerment. Kate Cockrill initially introduced the vision principals in an article in Women and Health in 2014. Steph Herold also shared this vision in an article in Rewire in 2015.