Gesturing enthusiasm for public policy
Posted on 05/20/15 by Amy Hanauer
I’m committed to Ohio, but I still talk with my hands like the Jersey girl I grew up as. Especially when talking about things I really care about, as in this TEDx talk I gave earlier this year, organized and captured on video by some amazing high school students.
The next generation leaders who created the event asked us to talk about curiosity. Naturally, the thing I think everyone should be more curious about is policy. I urged the mostly young audience to ask the questions that some people in power might not want asked.
What does policy have to do with how much exercise we get? How clean our air and water are? How much we’re paid? How does policy affect how many of us are in prison? How many of our kids are in preschool? How many of our neighbors have jobs? Most importantly: Who is gaining from the policies we’ve put in place? And who is losing?
This talk, maybe with one too many hand gestures, asks and answers these questions. It exposes some damning policy choices that the United States and Ohio are making. And it elevates some inspiring solutions that came about because of smart policy.
Also take a look at the other provocative speakers that the kids at Shaker Heights High pulled together: reporter Wes Lowry on giving voice to the voiceless, slam poet Caira Lee on the power of self love and Cleveland ambassador Hannah Belsito on being a tourist in the 216. Videos of three other speakers will be coming soon to the TEDxSHHS You Tube channel: Cleveland City Club CEO Dan Moulthrop on asking the right questions, educator Koyen Shah on a summer program she directs, and rapper Kid Cudi, on, well, being Kid Cudi.
I end my talk by admitting that policy change is tough: achieved only collectively and with a fight. Though the TEDx talk was delivered on a cold February afternoon, as the calendar rolls toward late May, it’s a good time to remind you about the most fun collective action in town. Critical Mass, a bike ride of hundreds through the streets of cities around the world, meets on the last Friday of every month – May 29 they’ll be collecting on Mall A in Cleveland (two blocks from Public Square, which is under construction). It feels like a bike ride, but it’s a tiny cry of protest at bad city planning, and a great way to make the case for community, biking, questioning, and a little rule-breaking. Join the ride.
-- Amy Hanauer