What is Solution Based Advocacy? (1)

Many of you have expressed appreciation for my blog posts sub titled: Tips for Solution Based Advocacy.  In response to your question: What is solution based advocacy? I offer the following working definition.   I acknowledge David Beers who gave me the idea. David is the Founding Editor of The Tyee (https://thetyee.ca/Bios/David_Beers/ ) and teaches at UBC's School of Journalism where he coined the phrase – solution oriented journalism.  Seemed like a concept worth borrowing.

Solution Based Advocacy- working definition

  • Proposes not opposes – the focus is on workable solutions
  • Believes in ethical decision making – understands the vast majority of issues are not: either/or; black/white;we/they but lie in the gray area in between.  Ethical decision making helps sort out competing principles and values
  • Accepts complexity: the complex environment that problems and challenges arise from; the complex systems we have created; the complex people we all are
  • Practices civility and respect rather than righteousness indignation
  • Strengthens relationships at the same time as it seeks solutions
  • Attacks the problem not the character of individuals
  • Is anchored by values of social and economic justice, not ideology or partisanship.

I'd appreciate your feedback on this definition which I will incorporate into a revised one.  And count on future Tips to expand on the points above.

NOTE: This the first in a regular series entitled Tips for Solution Based Advocacy. Click on the Advocacy category on the right hand side of your screen to see the whole series.  And please do share and circulate if you enjoy them.

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  1. Phil Russell

    Hi Al
    Hi AL:
    Your definition of Solution based advocacy certainly moves away from the earlier models of large ‘A’ advocay which were often confrontational and heavily influenced by a rights based, ideaological perpective. That said,these previous values were focal points that engaged the parent movement of the 70’s and 80’s. What is the fit of the new advocacy model you describe and re engaging grass roots parents of the disability community?

  2. Warren Bourgeois

    It strikes me that the kind of advocacy you practice also gives voice to the unheard or amplifies their voices so that solutions are not imposed on them. Their solutions are made known.

  3. Ed Barkman

    I like your “working definition”. We all know people for whom the automatic default setting is confrontation. As an issue ally many of us cringe. As one to whom the advocacy is directed my guess is the gut first response is to resist. Confrontation (including righteous indignation)clearly has a place in advocacy, but should be called on as last resort, rather than first. Much progress can be made through partnership and collaboration and leaves the advocate with allies that can help advance the cause in the future, rather than opponents who will stand ready to oppose in the future.

  4. Kim Lyster

    Your working definition is certainly a contrast, as Phil says, to many of the experiences of those of us who were part of the heady, vocal, and righteous work of social justice activism including the women’s movement, student movement and community living movement. What I enjoy about the ideas you have offered for solution based advocacy is that, with a focus on relationships, we are offered faith in a future. Collaborative approaches retain an element of curiousity as well; what needs and perspectives do the others have which lead them to take the positions that they do. Our struggle is to learn how to communicate in ways that build, support listening, and offer innovative opportunities or outcomes from the change we are endeavouring to initiate.
    thank you for thinking about this Al,

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