29 June 2020

OGS President Steve Fulton on Advocacy

As shown at the top of the society website, advocacy is one of three signature OGS activities.

In his latest video, linked within the Ontario Ancestors eWeekly Update - 27 June 2020 and also on the society website, President Fulton talks about advocacy. It's in response to a query from a gentleman — I wonder who that might be?

Steve prefers to use the term Outreach rather than Advocacy. In the video, he mentions activities like attending RootsTech and digitization of the North Bay Nugget newspaper that he and another volunteer  (volunteers?) are doing as outreach. Good initiatives.

Google the terms. Advocacy is defined as "public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy." The definition of Outreach is "the extent or length of reaching out." Outreach is a more inclusive term that might be interpreted to include the other two signature activities, education and preservation.

Pure advocacy has an OGS history with effective initiatives going back many years such as preservation of cemeteries, the release of the census, recognition of home children, preservation of land records, and more. OGS used its corporate voice, along with others, to promote action for the benefit of our community and Canada.

Organizations like the Archives of Ontario and Library and Archives Canada identify family historians as their largest client group. They want to serve those clients well, but can only do so if they know what they want. Part of the difficulty they face, especially at the national level, is that there is no single voice speaking for the whole genealogical community. That's unlike librarians, archivists, historians, publishers and authors who have organizations they can include in consultations.

Unless you identify and communicate what you want how will AO and other organizations with which we interact know what we want?  Being consulted doesn't mean getting what you want, but as a community, we need our respected representative organizations like OGS to make our needs known. If not others with other interests and strong voices make their priorities known and win out.

1 comment:

Gail B said...

There is a very important distinction between advocacy and outreach which you make clear. Advocacy is for a cause, outreach is for 'public' education or an attempt to get others to understand an issue, possibly join an organization, or volunteer for one. They are different beasts, as noted.

As a community volunteer I sit on a 'Public Education and Outreach Committee (P.O.E.) and hope I understand the difference between these two things.

Thank you as always for your erudition.

Gail B, St. C.