A movement is more than the sum of its parts. Through its numbers it derives a greater strength. This strength might seem to be small in the face of resistance: yet looking back over the successes of social movements in the 20th century, certain moments focussed that strength at a pivotal movement to capture the hearts and minds of larger populations and change history. The women’s rights movement across the globe would not have succeeded without years of hard graft building connections, networks and strength between individuals and groups. The demand for this wouldn’t have happened without that. However, despite this, sometimes the strength within a movement is very difficult to see. Sometimes it seems like the fight will never end, that a movement will never be strong enough to pull together as one and forcefully demand change.
Well, one would only think that if they hadn’t met Olivia.
Oliviais more than she seems. On the outward side she’s of a permanently sunny disposition. A bright yellow umbrella waving, singing, grooving one-lady band. She has the time and space for everyone. You get the feeling that you could never say anything wrong when you talk to Olivia; she’s seen it all, and accepts everyone for what they are.
I didn’t come across her because she was giving a speech at a rally. I didn’t meet her because she was the leader of a big environmental group. I didn’t met her because she knows everyone and everything in the environmental movement. I met her because she was the glue that holds groups together. Quietly, calmly, patiently, smoothly, being the glue the binds a movement. I rarely get to read or hear the stories of those who are our glue: too often our attention is grabbed by the louder amongst us, the ones jostling for a place in the sun, or demanding that people step up and do something about our environmental problems. These people play crucial roles in the movement: yet without the Olivias, they would have no groups behind them, no individuals consenting for them to speak on their behalf. Olivia, in a way, makes it all happen.