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8 Ways Your Advocacy Practice May Be Like The Giving Tree
(Channeling the Plain White T’s here…) The book is a childhood classic, Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. It tells the story of a tree that gives all it has to a boy as he grows from little boyhood to adulthood. From providing shade and a place to climb, to allowing the boy to sell the apples it yields, to finally letting the boy (now a man) cut it down to build a house, and later make a boat out of it. In the end, when the tree has nothing left to give, “Boy” simply sits on the Giving Tree’s stump to rest. Not everyone is aware of the great controversy that surrounded The Giving Tree when it was published. Such diverse groups as those who study children’s literature, Christian groups, and psychologists still today debate the meaning of the book. Some believe it is the perfect example of how one can show love through giving. Others believe the boy became abusive to the tree because all he did was take, and never gave or shared. Still others think it is one of the saddest children’s books ever written. I was reminded of this book recently after hearing from Natalie (not her real name), who was resigning her APHA membership. She can no longer sustain her practice, and had to close it down because, as she explained, she just can’t find clients who will pay her to advocate for them. I asked Natalie what marketing she had tried. Her reply: “I don’t have time for that. I’m too busy helping the people who can’t afford to pay me.” Come again? Natalie was – past tense – an advocacy giving tree. Now she has to find a job and won’t have time to advocate anymore. This happens so frequently, especially with newly minted advocates who are just starting to get a practice off the ground. They get a phone call, or a referral from a friend, or they connect with one of the people who has posted to the APHA site… the request sounds like something they can manage (and maybe learn…