Grassroots is one of those terms I've heard so often that I assumed I knew what it meant. This week I've discovered that I don't think I have ever really understood it. It seems to be one of the themes of my week. Purely by chance, not design.
On the weekend I watched the documentary Knock Down the House on Netflix, about the Brand New Congress in the US. Each of the featured candidates were all very inspirational, but my gosh, Alexandria Ocasia Cortez is amazing. One of the things I found most appealing about her was that it didn't seem to be about her ego or getting herself into the spotlight. She seemed to embody the whole 'rising tide raises all ships' type of attitude. And the belief that her team had in her and the shared mission of what they were doing was really tangible.
Follow this up with my discovery of the teachings of Seth Godin as I wrote about yesterday. One of the things he talks about is the minimum viable audience. How mass marketing is designed to create average products for the average person. Create cool things for weird people instead. Do work that matters for people who care.
I now recognise that my prior view of grassroots approaches has been tainted to assume that it's synonymous with empire building. Be it the politicians who use it as part of their rhetoric but toe the party line, or the Pharmacists who participate in turf wars.
Now I think I understand what I meant when I wrote that integration strategies require a bottom up rather than top down approach. We might have to accept the limits of the system that we work within, but that doesn't mean that we can't positively influence that culture and effect change. I used to accept the meaning that it just referred to something that starts at the base. Now I think of it as something that people should watch out for, because just like kikuyu, if it's strong enough it can spread!