It’s the big, hot, cool, trendy thing to do. It’s even got a fancy name – “Urban Poultry Farming.” Are you in on it? Well we are, and at first we didn’t even know it.
We thought we had just given into one of the 9 million ideas our son is constantly presenting us with. “Please, please, please can we get chickens?” Believing our parental response was a very clever way of saying no, without saying no – “What a fun, great idea, but sorry, that is not allowed where we live.”
Well, our enterprising son quickly found out that, in fact, it is allowed. It turns out that a group of interested citizens in Chapel Hill banded together in 2009 to get an ordinance changed that now allows up to 10 backyard chickens (and for those whose minds quickly went to the Rooster question – nope, only chickens, as it appears the town understands that friendly 5:30 am wake up cock-a-doodle-dos might be a problem).
Now that we are the proud owners of 3 chickens (and a son who is now known as the neighborhood Egg Man – harken back to the milk man), we get many interesting chicken-related tidbits from a variety of sources, including a friend who continues to send me articles from Arlington, Virginia about their ever growing chicken controversy. In a nutshell, or eggshell may be the more appropriate term in this case, a group of neighbors in Arlington are doing the same thing that their counterparts did in Chapel Hill. Turns out that these efforts also have a fancy name – “The Backyard Chicken Movement,” and apparently it is happening in cities all across the country. And it is working!
These groups are mobilizing a LOT of people to drive change and they are using some best practice tools and techniques to make it happen. They are leveraging social media by creating websites and Facebook pages, activating petitions (and getting thousands of signatures), and using some good old fashioned marketing approaches such as distributing catchy t-shirts and bumper stickers, and focusing on PR to get supportive play in the press.
So my question is… if a group of people can create a movement across the country about chickens and have great success, what can happen if people band together in similar ways to tackle some really important issues like making sure all the kids across our country are getting a good education?
Did you know:
- 70% of 8th graders can’t read proficiently and most will never catch up with their peers
- 1.2 million students drop out of high school every year
- 44% of dropouts under age 24 are jobless
We need more individuals in our communities to take the principles of The Backyard Chicken Movement and apply them to work together to affect real change in our schools!
So, how do you, as one person, or one business, or one church, or one school start to make this happen?
- One starting point is to reach out to your local United Way. United Ways across the country are working together, with national partners, and with their local communities to drive real and sustainable change in education. Ask them how you can get involved and help.
- Diplomas Now is a leading edge organization having great success in turning around high school drop-out rates in some of the country’s largest cities. Contact them and ask how you can work with your community to get involved.
- Scan the teacher project requests on DonorsChoose.org and then rally people in your community to donate and fulfill those projects for your neighborhood schools.
These are just a few ways to start a movement, or join a movement that has already begun.
What efforts have you seen that have been effective to mobilize a community to affect change in your schools? Please share your thoughts and ideas, and most importantly, make a commitment to be a leader in bringing together a group of people to make a change.
It’s just us chickens out there and we have to flock together if we want to develop successful little chicks!