Wednesday, July 22, 2015

#Masterlab: Emily Coles & How a WWII Bomber Analogy Changed My View on Advocacy

This is my final post about Masterlab. I will also summarize my experience at Friends For Life in a future post.

The presentation that stood out the most to me, that literally brought a room full of bright, energetic and passionate advocates to their feet in thunderous, well deserved applause was Emily Coles.

Emily works for the Diabetes Hands Foundation. She does a lot for the communities online and off, I knew Emily from her intelligent and witty interviews with diabetes superheroes.

When she introduced herself, she indicated that she hasn't been presenting for long. She was presenting on creating a powerful message for a powerful audience.

And did. she. ever. We were a powerful audience, and her message knocked us over.

She started her story about war planes returning for repair. When a plane returned during WWII for repair there was diligent care taken to see where the bullet holes were. (the planes that were returning did not have a lot of holes in the locations outlined in light circles below, this image is not the one that Emily showed, but it is one I found quickly on Google and belongs to

Emily asked:
When the decision to reinforce the planes was made, where do you think the reinforcement was made?

People from the crowd stated obvious things (to us) the cockpit, the engines, the wings.....

And she said:
"It was the part of the planes that were untouched by bullets, because the ones that were getting hit there weren't returning."

And a light shined over the crowd. A moment of ahhhhhh hhhaaaa.

She went on to explain that if our legislators, health care providers, and government gave us fair and equal access to tools that we need to succeed in living a full, healthy life we could change the world. We can not change the world with poorly managed self care in diabetes It causes many, many complications- but perhaps the most dire is that a person may not be able to complete their personal mission while dealing with everything else. She explained that we can not do an effective job either personally or professionally if we are just trying desperately to survive and keep our head above water.

And right now, there are many, many people who could be doing so much good for the world (not just in the diabetes space) that simply are not well enough, or not stable enough financially to be able to do it because they are fighting with every fibre of their being just. to. stay. alive.

Emily, thank you. Thank you for your message, and your delivery and your ability to bring an entire room of powerful advocates to their feet. Your ability to capture us an twist our thoughts was incredible.

On top of all of that, I had the pleasure of working on the diabetes hands foundation booth with Emily. And then we got to chatting and got our eyes mostly tested together, and we had a few meals and drinks together. She got me on the dance floor at the Tandem diabetes night, and she talked about dancing like I had never heard anyone talk about dancing. FYI y'all: Emily can move. She can dance like nobody I have ever seen before.

So thank you, Emily. Your presentation and friendship really stood out to me. You effectively changed my mind on how I will advocate in the future, and that's saying something. I'm stubborn.

1 comment:

  1. Alanna:

    I have known Emily for many years and I am delighted you got to see her presentation at Masterlab. She is a true dynamo and despite what she might say she is a wonderful presenter.

    The idea of reinforcing the airplanes where they are not damaged has been talked about for years, but there is no way I would have ever thought of using it in a presentation about diabetes.

    I love your blog, and you gave an incredible endorsement of Emily and I love that most of all.

    Thank you for a terrific read.

    rick phillips