Plant a Flag

June 21st, 2018

Last week, I spoke with a fellow Cal grad about how to kickstart a community she’s working on. We discussed strategies for getting the attention of the specific group of people she aims to serve.

Even with good intentions, it can be a challenge to gain the attention, trust, and time of people you want to help.

This conversation reminded me of a quote from this article by Christina Xu. Christina’s an ethnographer and budding gardener who works out of Orbital with me. She writes about “crafting a signal” for a community of interest:

Whether it’s an invitation to an event, a call to action, a piece of art, or a literal flare, the signal is how you get the attention of the people you are trying to gather… The best signals are the ones that find people who actually want to connect on their own terms.

— Christina Xu

Piggybacking off of Christina, I tell folks to “Plant a flag.”

To rally a group of people, start by doing something bold that not only signals your shared interest but also gathers these humans to further explore that interest with each other.

Create a rallying moment. For instance:

Don’t take, give. Don’t chase, gather. Don’t lecture, enable.

Planting a flag doesn’t have to be big, expensive, or flashy. Planting a flag means giving people a defined moment to show up and meaningfully plug into what they care about.

P.S. Related—our most recent P&C project required me to produce multiple custom flags. If you need a flag vendor, check out New England Flag & Banner.