Thomas Dunmore Rodriguez

Thomas Dunmore Rodriguez

I work at Oxfam supporting influencing, campaigns and advocacy worldwide. I am inspired by the activism of social movements that make change happen in Latin America and other parts of the world.

Location Mexico

Activity

  • These are important questions @HarrietCostello For me, I think the personal reflection is really important. With 1 or 2 colleagues I've also felt enough trust to have open, honest conversations about what this means for our work - it's not always easy to be entirely open about issues like our own identity, power and privilege, so I have personally found such...

  • Hi @QuentinGhesquière thanks for the question - the tools we share are for specific steps - for example, analysing your context, understanding how power is operating, mapping stakeholders, defining tactics and messaging, etc. In a sense, there's no easy way to aggregate them all, but rather it's a process to work through, and indeed go back to when things...

  • Thank you very much for taking part @SarahLove

  • I'm really glad to hear it was helpful for you @MiriamMalek

  • Agree, well done on these inspiring first steps!

  • Thanks for sharing this @SarahLove really good example to remind us of the need to address root causes, and to think holistically when we are thinking about making change happen

  • Thanks @ChristineCox and I guess even Marcus Rashford has a team, and a movement of people behind him, campaigning and working on the issue he has become such a focal point for

  • I agree @KahoShinohara but I have also seen collectives or groups that rather than challenge critically, end up reinforcing certain views and excluding others. Do you think this is a risk, and if so, what can we do to mitigate that?

  • Thanks @SallyWebster Yes, within the NGO world, I've seen increasing reference to this kind of thinking, which I think can be very helpful indeed. I think one challenge is to demonstrate how these often small actions and changing, are contributing to a real difference. Would be very keen to learn more from you in that regard. Enjoy the course!

  • Thanks @KahoShinohara Fascinating to think about how sport can help effect positive social change. Thanks for bringing this perspective

  • Thanks @ThwalThwal I think changing mindsets and attitudes can be one of the most challenging aspects of social change. Do you have examples of where you think this has worked well?

  • Thanks for these reflections @SiSiMoe

  • Thank you for sharing these examples @EstherLeva

  • Thank you @MUKAMPABUKAIMMACULEE Really good summary and reminder of key principles for activism.

  • Thanks @FrancisMalcolmCox I know what you mean about the latter stages. I also found that, the first time I did the course. We appreciate the feedback and I am happy you enjoyed the course. Thank you for your active participation.

  • I'm very glad it was helpful for you @FelistasMandivenga

  • Really interesting @KeithBryan thanks. You might be interested in this recent article by Duncan Green, on legalisation of marijuana in Mexico. Similar to what you describe in the UK, there are a host of related issues, and also considerable resistance....

  • This sounds like an amazing initiative @LisaBruni Well done on the successful influencing!

  • Thanks so much for sharing this experience @AmundaSalm I know what you mean about finding the right balance between supporting/encouraging and convincing/persuading. I guess we might need to switch between different approaches, depending on the situation

  • Thanks for this @SarahLove I think all the aspects you mention are important. How would you go about building the trust of somebody who is not necessarily your friend?

  • Thanks @AnjaliShenoy challenging social norms, particularly in an adverse context can be so hard. Thank you for sharing this.

  • Whilst I can sympathise that sometimes our actions can have little effect, I am certain that at some levels you have been contributing to change @SteffGoldring I hope you enjoy the course!

  • Agree @DotY the sharing with other students is really fantastic, I always take huge inspiration from this. Thank you to all of you!

  • Thank you for the kind feedback @MiriamMalek

  • Thank you for all your contributions @NicholasWebber I am really glad it was helpful for you

  • Gosh yes, the zero/little/unexpected reaction from your audience is a big one isn't it? I always wonder if we are honest enough with ourselves when this happens, and are truly willing to change course

  • Great advice, thanks @DotY

  • If anyone has other great videos that show the power of leadership, please do share!

  • Thanks @FelistasMandivenga Yes, maintaining energy and a positive outlook is hard in the face of setbacks. I actually find reading the experience of participants on this course helpful in that regard, so much inspiration here!

  • Good luck, I definitely share the same challenge!

  • Agree 100%, I sometimes find asking myself the question "why might they believe such a thing?" to really try to understand where somebody is coming from can help, at least in terms of thinking how I might be able to start convincing them otherwise. It's not easy though, as you say particularly when such views can be so painful and de-humanising for others.

  • Thank you @AKELLONANCYONGOM Yes, I think a lot of us feel less confident about public speaking. When you have heard a very good public speaker, what is it about them that you find appealing? Perhaps there is learning there?

  • Yes, I believe so, we'll work to get that fixed. Thanks for letting us know

  • Thank you so much for taking part @DebLinsky It has been really fantastic to have you as a participant and to learn from you.

  • Such a good point @MichaelDoyle

  • Absolutely agree @MargaretS

  • Interesting! What approaches have you taken to overcome this challenge?

  • Could this perhaps point to other challenges, perhaps even in the choice of approaches? For instance, is sensitisation actually the best starting point, if there are immediate, perhaps more material changes, people want to see? I've always been inspired by social movements, like the Landless Movement in Brazil, which have a long-term political vision - and...

  • Thanks @PritiI Do you think it's ever appropriate to aim for the "low hanging fruit", or more important to be focused on the big (albeit complex) changes?

  • Agree @PatrickMuelemeri Sustainability of change processes is so key, yet so challenging. Beyond the idea of financing or funding, what key aspects of sustainability do you think it is important to consider?

  • Are you sure @CalebP? Sometimes people feel they have not engaged in changemaking, because they are thinking about campaigning, activism, policy influencing work. What about changes you've contributed to in your own family or community? Good luck with the course!

  • Good luck with the course Erika, and greetings from Hidalgo!

  • Congratulations on your retirement @ChristineCox and it's inspiring to hear your passion for continued change-making.

  • Yes absolutely, and I guess learning while doing, both from successes and mistakes, rather than a more formal evaluation or auditing approach. Have you seen any good examples of that kind of approach, Nicholas? I think it's an area we need to get better in, my experience within the international development sector is that we often make learning too formal or...

  • This is great @DebLinsky, the use of language can be so powerful in both negative and positive ways. In Oxfam we've been thinking about this a lot, who our language can be more inclusive, less discriminatory, but it's hard, often means un-learning decades of the way we've always said things. Then there's the issue of which language we use, for instance this...

  • Yes I think you are right @HilaryCooke maybe it depends who the audience is - whether is an experienced group of campaigners for instance, or a group of people who have never engaged in any form of activism before, where the path forwards might need to be a bit clearer and "pre-prepared".

  • Good luck with the course @NipaGhosh

  • Yes @michèleMVB it is difficult isn't it, because on public health grounds, many of the rules around lockdown make complete sense, but we need to ask questions about what the long-term impacts may be, and avoid normalising certain aspects, when they run the risk of reducing freedoms, such as the right to protest for instance

  • I've very glad it was helpful @MusiimentaRitah Thank you for the feedback

  • I agree entirely @DebLinsky really challenging times for activism and action. I've found this set of case studies really interesting and inspiring in the current context, you might want to take a look https://www.interfacejournal.net/interface-volume-12-issue-1/

  • I'd be interested to hear about assumptions you've made in your work and change-making, in terms of tactics that you've employed that haven't necessarily worked. What have you learnt?

  • In Latin America we call this face-to-face, one-to-one discussion "trabajo de hormiga", or ants' work. It is painstaking but can be very effective!

  • Agree entirely @ColinMcQuistan I actually asked colleagues at Oxfam in Timor Leste about precisely this point the other day, and they replied that they'd done the following to get attention to a research brief they had launched, some great ideas: Informal and formal meetings with key government actors, strengthening civil society capacity to undertake the...

  • Great additional thoughts @NicholasWebber Many thanks!

  • Do you think there are any risks in expanding the focus as you propose @HermanMeyer ?

  • Agree with you @PankajKC that aspect appears to me missing, and could be a valuable addition. And as you say, even the toughest laws against VAWG required continued public mobilisation to ensure that they are implemented without impunity.

  • Thanks @SarahYanayorkNathaniel I'd be interested to know more about why you think a campaign like this should last a lifetime. normally when we think of campaigns, we think about specific changes over a limited time period, but maybe there's something about this one which makes you consider it in a different light?

  • Thanks for that reflection @bisratnigusie I think you are right in many cases, although my sense is that often out of sheer need or desperation, people take action to create change. Of course there are other times, when people act in solidarity with others, even though they are not so directly affected by a particular issue. I wonder what triggers that...

  • Yes, I've seen this happen, although I've also seen organisations led by the same person or people over decades somehow manage to remain dynamic and open to new ideas. I'm not sure what the secret is though! Any ideas?

  • Glad it was useful for you. Good luck with the rest of the course @HanadyTouchan

  • Thanks both for your comments, and I tend to agree with you @MartinClarke Given the complexity of shifting aspects like beliefs, values, mindsets and ideologies, perhaps more pragmatic approaches to mitigate the negative impacts of invisible power are necessary for change to occur in other spheres in the shorter term - for instance, following your example,...

  • Thank you @DebLinsky The part that attracts my particular attention in your powerful story of change is the line "it is actually a negative system for all of us". I feel this aspect has huge potential to invite and include many others into the political organising and collective liberation that you mention. Can I ask how you would explain that part to others,...

  • This is so inspiring @DotY Makes me want to go out an write a good story. I wish you well in your recovery.

  • Such a great example, thank you @DotY

  • Thanks @PankajKC for these thoughts. I think another important aspect of Charity So White, linked to your point about gathering accounts and testimonies, is that it is led by people of colour working in the charity sector, so based on lived experiences of racism. In that sense, it is more than a campaign and actually a social movement of people directly...

  • Thanks for those reflections @RebeccaWilson I wonder why many organisations and businesses haven't recognised the huge power and benefits of actively promoting diversity in the workplace until now. The only explanation I can find is that there are too many vested interests, unacknowledged privilege, institutionalised racism and other forms of discrimination...

  • Thanks for these points @NicholasWebber. Can I ask what you mean by being organised? Do you mean having campaign actions ready for people to use if they feel inspired? I am also wondering if that's always necessary, are there times when leaving the action part to people's own initiative and creativity may be a better option?

  • Yes, I think I would do the same @HilaryCooke Out of interest, what was that in your case, and why? In my case, it's definitely appealing to my emotions. i think that's because my emotions are closely linked to my values, when I feel they are questioned, or under threat, I am more inclined to act perhaps

  • Thank you for pointing this out @MargaretS You are right to be disappointed, and we will correct this for the next run of the course. Our apologies for this.

  • From your experience @MUKAMPABUKAIMMACULEE what does that empowerment process involve?

  • I hope the course helps you on that path @HanadyTouchan All the best!

  • Good luck with the course @KPB

  • Good point @MusiimentaRitah but what do you do when those high influencers "blockers" are absolutely not open to being convinced, and I guess when we are not really open to compromising either? I can think of quite a few examples in many of our polarised political contexts, for instance, what then? Any ideas?

  • Fantastic reflections, thank you for these. It reminds me of the film "The Corporation" (on YouTube if you haven't, and I must re-watch it). As I remember, it digs down into some of these issues of differences between the individual humans working for large corporations, and the corporations themselves, some of which have unprecedented power in the world

  • Yes, really beautiful. Sharing the weight is really an act of solidarity isn't it? Thank you @DotY

  • Interesting @NicholasWebber reading "features and benefits" makes me think of negotiation as an influencing approach. I think it can indeed be a very helpful approach. I used to work in sales (of tours, in all inclusive resorts in Cancun). I remember that showing the benefits of the tour - seeing "real" Mexico, getting out of the resort, excitement, adventure...

  • Great quote, thanks @AnoushkaBoodhna

  • Encouraging and enabling are such important aspects of influencing I think

  • Interesting @MargaretS It seems like you encourage a mindset of seeking to create new ideas, in order for people to also be open to new ideas when they receive those, is that right? I like it!

  • This reminds me of the words of a colleague who says you can only really begin to understand power once you engage with it directly. I suppose it is similar with any system we observe but ultimately also engage with.

  • Thanks for these reflections @PankajKC I'm glad you like the tool, and yes there are many variations of this out there. My advice for using this tool effectively is to apply it to a specific change you would like to see, the more specific the objective (Who/What needs to change? Where? When?), the more useful the mapping will be in terms of identifying...

  • Yes @michèleMVB I think there are many of us that see some of the controls and checks that are being put in place, and what the long term impacts of these will be.

  • Really interesting reflections, and there are clearly different linguistic interpretations, particularly around this issue of personal gain. That said, and assuming that the change we are looking for is positive social change, for the greater good let's say, then I I wonder if there's a difference between thinking about short-term, more pragmatic change...

  • Welcome @EmilyBrown !

  • I agree with you @EstherLeva Corruption is such an important issue to address in so many of our contexts. Whilst it is not specifically an issue the course focuses on, I hope the different modules are helpful for you. In particular, the discussion of power may be relevant. I guess the misuse of power and corruption go hand in hand.

  • Such an important issue, equal rights for quality education. Thanks for being here @FarihaChowdhury

  • What kind of change are you interested in @‪sulimanalhazmi ?

  • That's great @ThanBunly What kind of support do you provide?

  • What kind of change would you like to contribute towards @Deeptishah ?

  • Thanks @RebeccaWilson Are there times when you find the "nothing about us, without us" principle easier to apply? I think the time pressures we put ourselves under actually discourage this, and sometimes I've found that asking myself to move a little slower, to focus more on the process itself (whatever the outcome) can really help.

  • I love that @DotY My daughters also complain when I ask them "which was your favourite?" - they always say "all of them"! You've helped me understand why that is actually a fantastic answer, thank you!

  • I know what you mean about learning to say no @ColinMcQuistan I've been lucky in the past couple of years to have a manager who has encouraged me to learn to do this, and I have to say that as well as helping my own wellbeing, it also means I am able to engage much more meaningfully with things that I do say yes to. I guess, it is very easy to spread ourselves...

  • I also like this @MargaretS it's such an important aspect of making change happen

  • Thanks @AnoushkaBoodhna for this great reflection. There's a bit more on this later in the course. I'd be interested to know of examples of where the process of consensus building can also bring new ideas and directions. It reminds me of campaign bootcamps I've run with young people in Latin America, safe spaces for a group to develop creative proposals, but...

  • Sorry about the percentages on this exercise, which clearly don't add up, but I hope it's still useful to get a sense of what aspects other participants on this course highlight as key reasons to work with others. Any surprises?

  • I agree @NicholasWebber or even realising that you are not alone in facing a particular issue or challenge. I sometimes think these can be some of the most difficult steps to achieve though.

  • Really interesting observations, thanks to you both. I can think of a few examples of where individuals seem to become "bigger" than the movement, or where individuals seem to trigger a movement almost single-handedly. In reality, there are almost always many, many people working behind the scenes of course. I also think it's interesting that as humans, we...

  • That's great to hear. Thanks to those of you who submitted an assignment, and to those of you who reviewed too!