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Collective vs Connective Action with Michael Redhead Champagne


This week Elizabeth talks with Michael Redhead Champagne, a community organizer in Winnipeg working to dismantle harmful systems and build better ones through Indigenous practices and knowledge. They discuss collective and connective action logics, and the importance of creating networks of people to promote and sustain change. Michael talks about building a spider web or network to help advance change, highlighting how essential fostering social connections is for pushing for political change. Elizabeth also asks Michael about the ways he uses social media to get information out and get people in. 

Side note: We are collecting examples of impacts of the podcast and we’d love to hear from you. Could you take two minutes to fill out this short questionnaire for feedback on the podcast.


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Episode Transcript: Collective vs Connective Action with Michael Redhead Champagne


Read the transcript below or download a copy in the language of your choice:



Elizabeth Dubois: [00:00:04] Welcome to Wonks and War Rooms, where political communication theory meets on the ground strategy. I'm your host, Elizabeth Dubois. I'm an associate professor at the University of Ottawa and University Research Chair in Politics, Communication and Technology. My pronouns are she/her. Today we're talking about connective and collective action with Michael Redhead Champagne. But before we get into it, I have a quick ask for you listeners. One of the main things that we need to do in academia is show the outcomes and impacts of our work. This helps us fund things, like podcasts, and get grants. So what I'd like from you is: if you have used this podcast in your work, in your community involvement, in your classroom, whatever it may be, can you let me know? I'd love to be able to document the examples of ways that this podcast has helped people engage in their political system and do their jobs. So you can email us at polcommtech@gmail.com. That's polcommtech@gmail.com . You can find us on our social medias, and you can check the show notes for a link to a form that we've created, for anybody who wants to fill out a Google form with a couple of prompts. Thanks so much, and let's get into the episode. All right, Michael, can you introduce yourself, please?


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:01:26] Tanisi [note: tanisi means hello in Cree], my name is Michael Redhead Champagne, and I'm really excited to be here today. I am based out of the north end of Winnipeg, Manitoba, but my family roots go all the way up north to Shamattawa First Nation. I'm a community organizer, a new children's book author [learn more about Michael's new book We Need Everyone], and a community helper in the work that I do. I work across various systems, and I'm really passionate about trying to center lived experience in all of the work that I do, as well as amplify and explain, I would say, indigenous practices and indigenous knowledge and how some of those indigenous teachings can help us improve various systems. And so I love systems and policies, but I also like to have fun. I think that one of my biggest passions is knowledge translation, to try to get some of these more complicated, policy based concepts in language or formats that kids, young people, and folks that maybe aren't exposed to that world can easily understand and begin to participate. So I'm working towards a revolution here, where systems get a little bit better and a little bit more equitable for the folks that haven't had power in the past, we want to make sure that they're empowered in the future.


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:02:50] Amazing. Thank you so much. Congratulations on your book and all of the really incredible work you do. I am so excited to chat with you more today. We are talking about collective action and connective action, and all of the ways that does or doesn't help people engage in their political systems, in making the world better, in advancing the changes that we want to see in the world. So collective action  [Consult: Collective Action 101: What Are Large-Scale Collective Action Problems?] basically is this idea that we as a group need to come together to make particular changes. So collective action could be things like the collective action that was needed to get women the vote, right? You could also think of feminism. You could think of Black Lives Matter. Of Idle No More [note: Idle no More is an Indigenous led social “movement for Indigenous rights and the protection of land, water, and sky”]. There's all kinds of examples of collective action. And usually when we're thinking from an academic perspective about what collective action is, there's this logic that you need to overcome the "tragedy of the commons idea" [Consult: What is the tragedy of the commons? - Nicholas Amendolare]. So tragedy of the commons is: "If we all do this together, it's going to be better for everyone. But if we individually do it the trade off doesn't seem that great, so why bother put in the effort?" Climate change is a real great example. As a globe we need to do something, but on an individual basis driving is convenient and using a lot of oil products is really helpful in our day to day lives.


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:04:16] So the logic of connective action [note, Elizabeth mistakenly said connective but meant collective] suggests that by organizing, having a strong leader and having an established community and infrastructure to be a part of that's how we overcome that tragedy of the commons. That's how we overcome this individualistic "That's not great for me in the short term, so I'm not thinking about it". Then, in academic theory, we have this idea of connective action, which emerged as the internet and social media became more popular and more accessible [Consult: The logic of connective action: Digital media and the personalization of contentious politics]. Along the same time, or around the same time, rather, a lot of people were talking about the democratizing power of the internet, and everybody's like: "Look, more people can be involved. You can be involved on whatever issues you care about. At whatever time you care about. You no longer need to necessarily be part of this giant system, established movement. You don't need the infrastructure. You may not even need the leaders". We could think of things like anonymous, where there isn't one specific leader, you know? And you end up potentially in a situation where the internet and related tools are changing what you need for overcoming some of those barriers to making societal change. There's a lot more to dig into. But I've talked for a while now. So first thoughts, questions, feedback, and then we'll dig in more as we go.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:05:32] I absolutely love what you're putting down here. Let me just respond by telling you a story, if that's okay.


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:05:38] Yes, please.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:05:39] So I'm Swampy Cree, and in our First Nation creation story, there is a phrase that we say often "We are the star people". The reason we say "We are the star people" is because there is an oral tradition amongst our people that "once upon a time, we were all beings of light in the stars, and one at a time we got lowered down to the earth. Now the reason we got lowered down is because someone called Star Woman asked Grandmother Spider for help. Grandmother Spider gave a couple of parameters and then lowered Star Woman down to the Earth. All of us are beings of light, and all of us got lowered down just like Star Woman did from thread from the stars". And all of us know this because if you have a belly button, that's where you were lowered down from. For those of us that recognize Star Woman, Grandmother Spider and the purpose of us understanding where we come from, the connection to the place where we come from, listening to you talk about things like connective tissue made me think of the spider web and how that concept can be spread in a celestial concept when we're talking about this Cree creation story, but also can be applied to a community based concept.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:06:55] And that really is how we work, especially in Winnipeg. We are one of the urban environments with the highest proportion of Indigenous people in Canada. And I think what that allows us to do is take advantage of some of these indigenous connectivities. So oral tradition is a big thing. Building relationships and reciprocity are a big thing. And creating a network in Winnipeg has really been the only way that I've been able to find success. That network has actually branched out to the point where I'm now able to connect with folks outside of Canada and around the world utilizing that same web of connective tissue that's made out of relationships and reciprocity. And that enables me to bypass a lot of the barriers that get put up. We get told no a lot. We get told "Do it in the process, do it the right way". Quotation, quotation. And our connective tissues sometimes take us in a different - sometimes it feels like a roundabout direction - to get us to a more direct answer.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:07:56] So I was hearing all sorts of spider webs as you were talking. But spider webs in the beautiful creation story way, where Grandmother Spider gives us the instructions we need to live here on the Earth. And the part that I didn't say is when Star Woman comes and spends time here on the Earth, she's just here for a visit and then she goes back to the stars. But that visit actually was an entire lifetime. And in that visit, what she really needs to do is leave a gift for the people that are here. She needs to remember her connection and the other things that we need her to do. Other than to leave that gift and to remember that connection is, of course, to make sure that she shares the knowledge that she brings with her.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:08:38] And that's what all of us have to do as well when we participate in any of these networks. So a committee is just like that spider web, right? A team of people that are organizing an event during  Idle no More are just like that spider web. And some of those other examples that you mentioned with more recent examples remind me of those connections.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:08:59] And here's the thing that I love about spider webs and connections, and I feel like it is proved by what you shared. Spider webs are gentle. A spider web is not a cable. It's not a metal cable. It's not invincible. It's not made out of rock and solid things. It's made very gently, very delicately. And that spider web provides food and nourishment for the spider, safety for other folks. You know what I mean?


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:09:27] Yeah.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:09:27] And so that's what this connection is. It's the spider web to keep us safe.


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:09:31] It's the spider web. That is such a beautiful and clear, tangible way of describing what this is. I really love that as a metaphor to describe a lot of different kinds of communities and action efforts and that sort of thing. So there's tons for us to dig into here. Very excited about that. Let's talk a little bit about you building your spider web and what that's looked like. You mentioned that it started quite local and now is growing to be beyond your local area. Can you talk a little bit about what that process has looked like for you? What has that involved?


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:10:07] The times where I have tried to follow the traditional process: "do step one, two and three". Have been frustrating and ineffective. But the times where I have leaned into my relationships, and the spider web showed me a way around - maybe I don't have to talk to the secretary and the supervisor and the manager and the director. I can just go right to the CEO.


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:10:27] Yeah.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:10:28] Right?


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:10:28] Yeah.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:10:28] So, I'm told that I have to do one, two, three, four steps before I get to the fifth. But sometimes the spider web tells me I can go faster, right to the fifth. Right to the CEO. Right to the top. You know what I mean? I don't have to take all of those steps along the way because we can move farther and we can move faster if we lean into relationships.


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:10:46] Yeah. And the focus on relationships, not assuming that whatever hierarchy is in place is the only way to get through. Right? Thinking about what are your other potential connections and forging those other connections. For me, I often find that I wouldn't have thought to go straight to the CEO of an organization unless I had been at an event in the community with that person, struck up a conversation, realized that they care about an issue that I care about. There is something very co-presence, physical, same-space kind of thing about being able to make use of those connections. Do you find the same?


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:11:23] I do, I find that it is really important. I love how you just describe the importance of having that kind of in-person meeting to make that skipping of the steps possible, because that is a part of it here in Winnipeg, and it seems to be true in other jurisdictions as well. I always say "You could be the smartest person in the world, but it doesn't matter what you know, it only matters who you know". Because I have seen some smart cookies do bad networking and beautiful ideas have not come to fruition. And I've seen folks that are great at networking accomplish amazing things with just a tiny, tiny seed of an idea. So, I believe that it's critical for us to lean into our relationships.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:12:05] But here's the thing: a lot of the time when we're engaging with politicians or leaders in the community or leaders in any system, often there's this weird "pedestal-ization" that happens where we're: "Oh no, this person is a person of influence. They are very important. They have staff and, whatever. They do very important stuff. I'm not of that level". Well, I'm here to tell everybody listening that you are of that level. And the reason that I want the people listening to go and speak directly to the folks at the top is because there is an angle and an element of reciprocity. Those folks at the top need you, especially if you're somebody like myself, who happens to have grown up in a low socioeconomic environment, happens to be First Nation, happens to have a connection to the child welfare system in Manitoba, and happens to have lived experience in poverty as well as policy. So all of those different things, I bet you a bunch of people that are listening have those exact same experiences or a different version. Now, people at the top often don't have any of those things. So guess what they need? You! They need you. Your lived experience and your authenticity. And your vision to make sure that the suggestions and solutions that they're proposing are meaningful. So don't feel you're not at that level. You are. And as a matter of fact, they need you because without you, look at all the mistakes they're making.


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:13:33] Yeah. I love that you talk about that as reciprocity. Because sometimes we end up thinking about that as "Oh, well, government needs to do more consultation. They need to do more 'go and listen to the people'". Which I'm not saying don't do consultation. Yes, consultations are great. Consultations are real important. Let's do those. But the framing of it often makes it feel very top down. When people at the top want to solicit input and advice, they choose to [do it]. And I think what you're saying is, with this reciprocity approach and this build-the-relationships approach, you don't have to wait for a consultation period to open. You don't have to only give advice during a consultation period. You can act as a member of your community and offer up really important insights to these political leaders and policymakers in a lot of different ways, at a lot of different points, and they're going to see value in that at those different points too.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:14:30] They really will. And I think back to some of the political organizing I've done with urban Indigenous young people here in Winnipeg. We used to organize something called "Politix brain storm", and we spelled politics with X because we're doing things differently. And we call the Politix BS because we're brainstorming.


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:14:50] I like it!


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:14:51] [laughs]


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:14:53] So at those events we would put public invitations out on social media to different political leaders to say "Urban, indigenous young people want to talk to you. Will you come?" Now when the whole world [is] watching, it behooves these political leaders to say "Yes, I will meet with urban Indigenous young people". Right? So that's just a Manitoba Winnipeg context. But there are different contexts in all of our communities that we are able to take advantage of.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:15:18] Because I don't want anybody listening to think that when you engage with the political system or folks in that realm, [...] to look at it as if you're engaging with folks that have power over you. They do not. Look at it as an opportunity for us to engage with somebody who has a different set of gifts, a different set of influences, but they're just different than yours. You have influences, you have gifts, you have abilities just the same as that minister does, just the same as that leader does.


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:15:47] Yeah. And what I'm hearing is, regardless of how they might think of the relationships, if we think of it as that web going in, and treat it that way, we're much more likely to get treated as if we're in a web and we're all equal and important participants. Even if they normally are used to in their day to day thinking of that hierarchy.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:16:07] Exactly. Taking that relationship and reciprocity based approach, I find, allows us to get a lot more progress done in a shorter amount of time. And that's really what I'm interested in here. I'm interested in us going farther and faster. Because for me, when I was a younger person and an Indigenous person engaged in politics, I was consulted all the time. I was asked, "What do I want?" all the time. People came and, you know, consultations galore.


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:16:34] Right.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:16:35] But guess what never happened? Implementation. And so, one warning that I will say to folks as you engage with these political leaders is, don't forget that i-word: implementation. So go ahead, participate in the consultation. Let them ask you the question. Share your ideas. However, do not let those ideas go and sit on a shelf somewhere, gathering dust. So that in another five years they can come back and hire another consultant from a more affluent neighbourhood to come into your less affluent neighbourhood and ask you the same questions and get the same answers. And they walk away with a big fat check, and we walk away with a big, fat nothing.


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:17:16] What are your strategies for pushing for implementation? What's that step of the process look like for you?


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:17:24] I can give you a great example.


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:17:25] Yes, please.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:17:26] Once upon a time, in November of 2023, I was connecting with some folks called Our Care [note: Our Care was a three phase research project aimed at gathering answers and solutions to Canada's primary care system. Find out more about Our Care and read their reports]. They are these folks that are implementing different roundtables and provincial conversations around primary care. So what type of a health care system would we [would] like to see in Canada? Very cool stuff. They identified that they didn't have enough feedback from Indigenous young people. So I was approached by these folks and was able to work with Aboriginal Health and Wellness [Centre] in Winnipeg, as well as the Manitoba Health Coalition, to be able to facilitate a daylong conversation with urban Indigenous young people, to ask them the very question: "What type of a primary care system would you like? What do health-care services that are safe for you look like? What's good, what's bad?" So being able to have that consultation and that conversation with those young people was great. However, sounds a little formulaic when I say it like that.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:18:25] And so I knew I had to do something to bust us out of the mold. [I] also had to do something to send a clear message to those young people that this is not consultation as you previously have seen it. So [...] we finished the day with a listening circle, and our listening circle invited representatives from the health department, representative from the Addictions and Homelessness Unit  [Housing, Addictions and Homelessness], the actual director from the Manitoba Health Coalition, harm reduction and healthy sexuality. We had a great group of political and health system decision-makers in attendance, sitting in a circle with urban Indigenous young people, and they all shared their suggestions and their ideas. When we finished, they went and they met each of those people. They introduced themselves, they exchanged business cards. And what I said to the young people before we left was: "Thank you all for participating. We will generate a report. There will be recommendations". It's a good report. It's good recommendations. The actual report is called Health Services Should Care for us Auntie-Style [2MB].


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:19:25] Excellent.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:19:26] What a great title and what a great message around kinship-based health care came out of that conversation. In addition, all of those young people have now a connection to the Minister of Community Health and Wellness [Janice Morley-Lecomte], the representative that came from the health department and all of those other political and system leaders. So they have the beginning of building their spider web. So that they can take the recommendations that resonate the most with them and reconnect with these permanent decision makers right now to say: Hey, remember me from November? Here's the report. Did you do it? I'm going to be on you. I'm going to keep coming to see you until we know that it's implemented".


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:20:04] Yeah.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:20:05] That's a recent example of bringing those decision-makers directly to build that connective tissue with urban Indigenous young people. Which is beneficial to those decision-makers and is beneficial to those urban Indigenous young people. Now, the secret is leveraging the relationships that were created between those two groups of people to ensure that the recommendations outlined in the Primary Care report for Indigenous young people in Winnipeg actually get implemented.


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:20:33] Right.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:20:34] But they now have the road to get there.


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:20:36] That's perfect. And we'll link to the report in the show notes and in our annotated transcripts and everything. Yeah, that's really helpful to see that whole process. And I think that example highlights the importance of those relationships and building out that spider web. It starts to make me think about this idea of logic of connective action. The theory came out of internet-enabled tools and it was this idea that you could be in this decentralized network of folks who are all working towards something. You didn't require formal organization in the same way. You could create this group of people online that all care about whatever issue, and they would come together on that issue when it's important and necessary, but maybe not even be connected to it in the rest of their daily lives. And then all of a sudden it's an issue again, so they join back in changing their Facebook profile pictures, tweeting things, emailing members of Parliament, whatever it is. But as you're talking about it, it seems [that] this logic of connectivity is something that for you doesn't depend on the technology. It's not that the technology has changed it. Maybe the technology amplifies the ability to do it. And I'd love to hear your thoughts about how technology fits in here, but it seems to me [that] your approach has always been a connective logic approach. It's not built around one central leader of the movement. It's about engaging everyone in the process. Is that fair to say? Correct me where I'm wrong.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:22:09] No, I think you're describing it really well. It is a decentralized approach, and I think the reason why I take a decentralized approach and many successful movements take decentralized approaches is because then you can't chop one head off and get rid of the whole movement. That's the whole hope here. When you put all of your stuff in the one leader and the rest of the team is disempowered or not visible, then that  puts so much pressure on the one person who is visible.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:22:39] It's not fair for the people that are being ignored. It's not fair for the person who's being hyper-focused on. And it's also not fair for anyone who's observing, because they're not witnessing the actual egalitarian collaboration that happened within the movement to make either the report or the recommendation come to light. So for me, by building a healthy and strong relationship with the folks that I'm working with, like the urban Indigenous youth that came together for that report, I recognized that I didn't want to take away their voice. I didn't want to take away their independence. I recognized when we were talking about the healthcare system, that they've been disempowered enough. And so if there's anything I can do within the process to give them a little bit of power back, know and understand that they are empowered to share their voice, then I wanted them to do that.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:23:25] And it actually happened because during the day of that roundtable with urban Indigenous young people, they did feel empowered enough to actually share teachings with us. Young people shared: "This is what my grandmother said to me, and I wanted to now share it with you". So we were able to have some of that intergenerational love in the room with us. The other thing that was so beautiful was [that] they also brought hand drums and were able to share music and song with us. It really changes the environment when people are sharing their culture and not only spirit of love like: "I love my culture and I love to share it", but also in a spirit of resistance. A spirit of: "This is what tried to get squashed by the dominant society and they didn't do it". And so I love to hear Indigenous young people speaking their language. I love to hear Indigenous young people picking up their culture. And when those things happen, I know that they're building the spider web and that their networks and their connection to their community is getting stronger. And you can't mess with someone who's connected to their community, because then you've got to take on all of them.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:24:35] So that's the secret here. You take on one of us, you take on all of us. And so if we have a strong enough connective tissue and good enough relationships with one another that are healthy, we can be very clear with politicians and decision makers that: "I'm maybe asking you this question, but I'm just letting you know that my response is going to go to the whole network".


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:24:55] Right.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:24:56] It's just transparency. It's just transparency. And having that transparency really puts the pressure on the decision-maker. And, I think, really empowers those of us that are doing the organizing in the movement.


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:25:08] That makes a lot of sense to me. And there's so many aspects of that that I think are really important to talk about. But given that, you know, we are a tech-focused lab [...] can you talk a little bit about how social media, instant messaging, email, whatever tools you use, how that plays into how you build out your relationships, how community action and engagement works in this very full digital media environment?


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:25:35] Yes. Thank you very much. That's a great question. So here I go again. Once upon a time, in 2018, the Manitoba government undertook a consultation again on child welfare legislation [Consult: committee's final report]. They tapped seven people in Manitoba to be a part of a legislative review committee, and I was honored to be a part of that. So as one of seven people that was reviewing the child welfare legislation, I was honored to travel around the province, hear from folks that are doing great work, hear from families and young people that are struggling and put together a fantastic report that has some really meaningful recommendations that can help change our legislation in a meaningful way, with such radical recommendations like add the word reunification to the legislation because it does not appear.


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:26:23] Radical.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:26:24] Really wild stuff, like that.


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:26:26] Crazy.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:26:28] So we were able to do that. But we released the report and I was upset because we just released the report in a PDF on the government website and had a press conference and then that was the end of it.


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:26:39] [sights]


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:26:40] And I was: "Well, how are the young people and the families that we connected with supposed to get this information?" So what I started doing was [...] Putting the information together onto an Instagram account. There's tools for people, if you're not a graphic designer - there's a website called Canva - you can pretend to be a graphic designer


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:26:58] [laughs]


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:26:58] As I do. I was able to take that report and the different recommendations, and I started making individual posts with the important information that came from that report.


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:27:08] Because that's manageable and consumable for people via that medium.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:27:13] Yes. So we do that because we want people to understand one simple tidbit of information or one concept that has been introduced, as opposed to understanding all 75 of the recommendations that we put forward at one time.


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:27:28] That's a great example. Thank you. And the idea there that I'm hearing is it changes the way you're able to communicate the information. You start using what we call the affordances of a particular technology to allow you to get the information out to the people you're trying to reach [Consult: season 3 episode 7: Technological Affordances with Rachel Aiello].


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:27:45] Yeah. The other thing that we did was we made sure that the information we put out was less wordy and had more pictures and graphical elements to them, so that we could speak to the visual learners as well as the academic learners.


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:27:58] I like that. I wonder, do you ever use social media or other digital tools as an organizing tool, to reach people, to pull people into whatever conversations? What you've just described is very much getting information out. What about getting people involved?


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:28:16] Yes. So for me, I worked and I'm still working in the north end of Winnipeg, but for I think a good nine years, I was one of the organizers with Meet Me at the Bell Tower [note: learn more about Meet me at the Bell Tower and follow their Facebook page]. This was an anti-violence gathering that happened in my neighbourhood and we heavily relied on social media, Facebook specifically, to be successful in the way that we organized with Meet Me at the Bell Tower. So how it would work, again it still goes back to the in-person stuff, but people would go to a gathering [and] at the end of the gathering we would ask the question, what should our theme or focus be next week? In seven days? Everybody would decide "Well, this is what's urgent in our community right now".


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:29:03] Then I would go to Canva, make a poster, make a Facebook event. Sometimes on that very same night, so we had seven full days to promote. Then I would spend the next seven days every speech I go to, every school I visit, every community gathering I happen to be in: "Come see us this Friday. This is our topic. Here's the poster. You know what I should just invite you on Facebook and let me pull up my Facebook. Right now I'm just going to invite you. [pretends to be typing on a mobile phone] All of you are invited." You know what I mean? There's also a similar thing we could do on Instagram now where you can create a post and it allows people to get reminders. So that's another tool that I use as well. So I use the calendar tool, use the event tool, and have also found it helpful to use emails and email lists as well.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:29:48] I also send out, personally this isn't related to any of that organizing, but just relating to my public speaking and my professional endeavours, I have an email list of between 450 and 500 folks that I've collected over the years, and whenever something exciting is happening, I'll send a blast out to those email addresses and ask them if they're comfortable to share that around with the people in their network, or to make invitations on my behalf [Sign-up for Michael's newsletter on his website Michael Redhead Champagne ].


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:30:17] Have you reflected at all about how your approach might be similar or different to those global movements?


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:30:23] I have reflected on that. And that's one of the main messages that I try to relay to the folks that I work with. Is primarily people younger than me and primarily indigenous folks in the inner city. That demographic of folks aren't often told: "What you're doing is world class". What I say to the folks that are organizing things in the North end of Winnipeg is that "You are organizing here at the level of other initiatives that are tackling difficulties all around the globe". For us in Winnipeg, [...] as I mentioned at the beginning of the show, we have such a high concentration of indigenous folks here and indigenous leadership here that you can see in, for example, the Valentine's Day March that just happened here, hundreds and hundreds of folks in Winnipeg going out to march on the streets - on Valentine's Day of all days - to raise awareness around the importance of us preventing missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls [Consult: Women's Memorial March]. Calling on Canadians to read those calls for justice that came out of the MMIWG report [National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls]. 


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:31:33] Knowing that that is happening right here in Winnipeg, in my own backyard, makes me feel like I'm in the place that I need to be. But it's also a reminder of we don't always have to organize from scratch. Sometimes we can piggyback off of existing movements or existing points that people have their attention on. So if everyone's paying attention to Valentine's Day, let's use that opportunity to organize a march for MMIWG [National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls]. [imitates a chef's kiss] Indigenous Organizing. Beautiful.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:32:11] Reminds me also of Idle no More. It was around the Christmas season and all of those round dances that were happening in the malls. "Everyone's in the malls. Let's put the round dance in the malls". Genius! Indigenous organizing. [imitates a chef's kiss] Love it.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:32:24] So you know what I mean?? I think that there are so many things that I've seen in Winnipeg and beyond that I personally see as being at the same level, or maybe in a position to teach others around the world how to organize. And I want folks to feel they have - because they do - I want folks to feel they have knowledge and expertise that they can give to others that maybe are experiencing a similar struggle.


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:32:52] Yeah, I love that. And those examples are so helpful and telling. We're going to link to more of them in the show notes and annotations of the transcripts. Thank you. It all is so important to come back to this idea of centralization or not isn't necessarily dependent entirely on technology. And your approach and all of the examples you give really show that there are different logics of action here. So the final question is going to be what's your logic of action? But I'm going to recap the logic of connective and logic of collective action first. And then you tell me what your logic is.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:33:31] Okay.


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:33:31] So logic of collective action [Consult: Collective Action 101: What Are Large-Scale Collective Action Problems?] is this idea that you need a strong leader, a figurehead. There's a lot of organization, a lot of resources that go towards making change happen, getting over that tragedy of the commons. You need tons of resources and you need infrastructure, typically. And that's how you get enough attention and you get taken seriously and how you get people to keep contributing, even though on an individual level it might not feel great to do that, right? They're part of this community and this formal organization. Then there's logic of connective action [Consult: The logic of connective action: Digital media and the personalization of contentious politics], which in the literature is all about: technology allows us to connect in different ways. We can be more decentralized. We don't need, necessarily, a figurehead leader. We don't necessarily need as robust infrastructure because we can all learn about who cares about whatever issues, according to our own personal interests. We have all these personalization algorithms - which we didn't even get into today - they allow us to connect with the issues as we care about them, when we care about them and they crop up over time. That sort of approach, which is very technology-enabled, allows for, again, some social and political change to be advocated for. What you've described is a little bit of both of them and kind of not either of them. How would you just briefly describe your logic of action?


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:34:58] I think that my logic of action has everything to do with what I refer to as the circle of control. Now, when I want to take action, first thing I always think of is what is the action that I want to take and who do I need to talk to to get it done? Now I always have to have a "who" and a "what" in place before I can move forward. So my logic of action is very people-based. So that "who" - it could be just a quick text message, a quick email, it might be a social media post - but once I'm able to express my desire or my idea to my intended person, usually my request is how do I get to the end faster? Or how do I get to the victory faster? And if I'm smart enough with my connective tissue and I pick the right person, they will either give me the answer immediately or refer me to the person who has the answer. And so don't accept when people tell you that you have to hurry up and wait. Don't accept when people tell you that you have to do step one, two, three, four before you can do step five. Lean into the relationships that you've been able to build. Lean into the sense of urgency that you see and that is motivating you. 


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:36:21] Try as best as you can to articulate that urgency to the person of influence or community leader or the political leader that you're trying to talk to and ask them the question: "Is this urgent for you?" Make it a yes or no question, because if they say no, you got to tell the rest of the connective tissue. That's why being able to position yourself in such a way where you're asking simple questions that are on behalf of the movement and you're publicizing the yes or no answer to the movement. Now, the benefit is when you say yes to the movement, everyone's like: "Okay, great, we support this leader and we're going to help them achieve it". But when you say no, what that does is makes the rest of the movement go to that leader and ask that same question again: "Why not, why not, why not, why not, why not, why not?"


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:37:09] I love the idea that we can use that connectivity to accomplish the things that we need to do. And really, if we get a good answer to "why not?" we'll stop. Just tell me why.


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:37:23] Yeah. Tell me why. Explain it. And if you're willing to say why in a public forum, okay. But then it's on record and people can react.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:37:32] Yeah. Make them say it out loud. "That's my action."


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:37:36] I love that.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:37:37] Make them say it out loud.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:37:38] [laughs]


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:37:38] Make them say it out loud. That's so helpful. Thank you so much. Normally, I end episodes on a pop quiz where I get you to tell me what you think the academic thing was, but I already kind of did that. So I want to end this where I give myself a pop quiz and you tell me what my grade is.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:37:53] Okay.


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:37:53] So I want to see if I can summarize your logic in like a sentence or two. So my understanding is the key components here are you need to build out a network. That's that spider web. Those relationships are really important. Crucially, you're building out the network to all of the people who have power to change the thing you want to change, but also to all of your community who's going to be part of making that change relevant and happening. Then you're going to show up as who your community is and bring in that personal human aspect, and you're not going to let things just die. You follow up, you use your network to continually push until you actually get an answer on the record.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:38:39] Yes.


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:38:40] Amazing.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:38:41] That's how you get answers. Sometimes you don't get the answer we want. [laughs]


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:38:46] Right. Sometimes you don't get the answer you want. You still got an answer though, and then you can move on to the next thing.


Michael Redhead Champagne: [00:38:50] But it's still good to get answers. Yes.


Elizabeth Dubois: [00:38:52] Exactly. All right. That was our episode on the logic of collective and connective action. I hope you enjoyed it. As always, we've got a bunch of resources and links in the show notes, and you can head over to Polcommtech.ca to find our annotated transcripts in English and French, full of more resources. I also want to acknowledge that I am recording from the traditional and unceded territory of the Algonquin people, and I want to pay respect to the Algonquin people, acknowledging their long standing relationship with this unceded territory. Thanks for listening.





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