A larger gathering of 48 health care advocates from across the state met for an all-day session of solidarity and strategy, hosted by local Mid-Valley Health Care Advocates. After a welcome by Huntington and a vigorous warm-up directed by Sandra Hernandes of The TREE Institute, they discussed their mission and vision over coffee, fruit, and bagels. Dr. Hernandes then led a lively discussion of terms like race, ethnicity, gender, and class, designed to examine issues with which our opponents will try to divide us.
Larry Steward, retired PSU professor of Communications and Mediation, led a discussion based on a short version of his sessions on “how we create the choir” by the way we frame the issues. He proposed that trying to win an argument with facts only hardens opposition and urged instead a strategy of persuasion, drawing on Aristotle, who said that "The fool tells me his reasons. The wise man persuades me with my own." We consider the audience and what they value, and express how our aims reflect those values in our own terms. For example, freedom is having a choice about issues with consequences for our own well-being; patriotism is concern about Americans and taking pride in providing everyone in this nation with essential public services. Professor Steward concluded with advice about “speaker anxiety” and the study of what is sayable (topoi in ancient Greek rhetoric). “If enough people agree that health care is a human right, not a market commodity, our numbers will overcome our opponents' money.”
After lunch Jess Hoffman, of the HCAO Youth Council, led the group in role-playing the use of organizing tools: gathering written petitions and photo petitions, using the survey as a conversation starter, and mentoring on how to give house parties for education and fund raising. Then Bill Whitaker, HCAO treasurer, encouraged those present to realize that, despite their likely doubts, “making the ask” for donations actually can be fun. Whitaker was so persuasive that attendees donated a substantial sum to help sustain the effort to bring universal, comprehensive, equitable, publicly-funded high-quality health care to everyone in Oregon and eventually to the nation.
Hoffman and Hernandes rounded out the day-long session with an exuberant rally which sent everyone home with an enhanced sense of solidarity and commitment.