Changing Politics and Culture Through the Art of the Long Game #occupy #idlenomore #saskbookawards

So I’ve been thinking about the “Long Game” quite a bit lately.

Essentially, “Playing the Long Game” refers to the idea of not just focusing on an immediate goal but also laying the groundwork for something important further in the future, even if it seems like something unattainable initially.

(A similar idea is often expressed by the saying “playing chess instead of checkers” meaning someone is looking multiple moves ahead instead of just one or two.)

What has this on my mind is thinking about how the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, which began as a somewhat fringe movement in September 2011 as a response to the Great Recession of 2008.  But now, five short years later, Bernie Sanders (a democratic socialist mind you!) is a credible challenger to be Democratic nominee for the President of the United States. Sanders is seeing great success using much of the same rhetoric (not to mention grassroots motivation) of the Occupy movement.

The importance of the Long Game hit me again last night when I attended the Saskatchewan Book Awards.

The #idlenomore movement started in December 2012 as a reaction to the abuses of Indigenous Treaty Rights by Stephen Harper.  Initially regarded as a First Nations protest movement, it has reached a much wider audience.

How was this in evidence at the Sask Book Awards?  Well, let me count the ways…

  • The sponsor of the Saskatchewan Book Award for Aboriginal Peoples’ Writing Award mentioned that the first year they sponsored the award, there was only one book on the shortlist.  This year, there were six books from four different publishers (although admittedly, a category for First People’s Publishing only had two books on its shortlist this year.)
  • Not counting two categories specifically for Aboriginal writing/publishing, 10 of 11 other categories had at least one book with Aboriginal content/themes.  Most categories had multiple nominees with Aboriginal themes.  One category – “Publishing in Education – had four shortlisted books and every last one had an Aboriginal subject!
  • When they won an award for one of their Aboriginal-themed books, the Director of the University of Regina Press, Bruce Walsh, mentioned that a book they published in 2013, “Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life” is the best-selling academic title in Canada in the 21st century having sold 21,000+ copies.
  • Both the host of the event, Dawn Dumont, and the musical entertainers, Andino Sons, were Aboriginal (Andino Sons playing indigenous Chilean music by way of Moose Jaw!) which is something that has been rare to non-existent in previous editions of the Book Awards.
  • More than one speaker made reference to the fact that the event was being held on Treaty Four land – something that was also a rarity as far as I can recall in the early days of the book awards (though my memory may be faulty on that.)

Anyhow, that’s a quick snapshot of some things that caught my attention and made me wonder if all of these elements were a reflection of the “Long Game” that was, in part, created by the #idlenomore movement, just as Bernie Sanders’ success is partly the result of the “Long Game” played by the founders of the Occupy movement?

Liz James, who I met through Ryan Meili’s campaign for the leadership of the Sask NDP (and who’s an amazing writer!) has a much better name for this approach – “the Long Win”.

I like that – and it also makes me wonder what other “Long Wins” we will see in the coming months and years that have had their seeds planted much earlier (or that haven’t even had those seeds planted yet?)

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