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mrkstvns

Is political advocacy a good "service project"?

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I read an article today about a Boy Scout whose Eagle project proposal was turned down, because it didn't seem to involve leadership of others. The project was to advocate for a local ordinance involving plastic handling. (Despite not getting it approved as an Eagle project, he believed in the concept and did it anyway.)

His proposed project was certainly a lot different in focus than the vast majority of Eagle projects I've seen.  I wonder what I would advise a scout who wanted to do something like that....What would you tell the scout?  If you were that scout's Scoutmaster or Committee Chair, would you approve his project proposal, or would you advise him to find something more traditional?

Here's the story...
https://buffalonews.com/2019/08/18/east-aurora-teen-on-his-proposed-plastic-ban-facing-public-hearing-monday-how-could-i-stop-people-from-polluting-the-earth/ 

 

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35 minutes ago, mrkstvns said:

or would you advise him to find something more traditional?

All too often, traditional means building a bench or picnic table, or something similar that will be around for a few years and then end up being dismantled after it wears out.

 

37 minutes ago, mrkstvns said:

if you were that scout's Scoutmaster or Committee Chair, would you approve his project proposal

I think I might have encouraged him to see how he could work it so that he did show leadership and get others involved in the effort.  If he is sharp enough to come up with an idea like he did, I am sure that with a little more outside the box thinking he could make it work.

I would love to see more Eagle candidates think about how their project can have a lasting impact on their community.

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"Political advocacy"  for me implies arguing for an ideal or a particular candidate.  Maybe that includes policy about material use and reuse and trash disposal (trash being whatever a person/society no longer wants.   A Van Gogh painting might be considered trash by someone....)

I would counsel a Scout to work for a project that, as has been mentioned,  leads and manages a group and works for the creation of something of lasting value.   Arguing before the City Council?   Maybe not.  Creating a volunteer  recycling center that continues after the Scout "ages out"....  That sounds more like it.   The Scout in this question sounded like an active activist,   of which we need more, but merely arguing a project's acceptance by the city council  ("The Committee To Encourage The Elimination Of Unnecessary Plastic and It's Elimination From The World's Oceans")  might not be the best fulfilling of the Eagle Service Project template. 

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Posted (edited)

I agree that it's a poor Eagle project as described because it does not "give leadership to others in a service project helpful to any religious institution, any school, or your community." It also seems to be difficult to "be approved by the organization benefiting from the effort." 

I suspect a modification to the plan could have gotten it there. Find an environmental advocacy group in the area and promote an awareness/advocacy project that involved educating the public on the issue and some level of a campaign to get it presented for a vote. That seems to fit, as I understand things.

Edited by malraux
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27 minutes ago, MikeS72 said:

All too often, traditional means building a bench or picnic table, or something similar that will be around for a few years and then end up being dismantled after it wears out.

 

I think I might have encouraged him to see how he could work it so that he did show leadership and get others involved in the effort.  If he is sharp enough to come up with an idea like he did, I am sure that with a little more outside the box thinking he could make it work.

I would love to see more Eagle candidates think about how their project can have a lasting impact on their community.

Point well made.

I wasn't initially a fan of this Eagle project as there is clearly a political motivation here.  The minute a Scout gets involved in a process that provides benefit to some and results in expense to others where the choice is made by a political body, the project is by nature political.  While this cause seems pretty noble - so to are many others which can be seen as more controversial.  Scouting has been through enough turmoil lately that we don't need even more political affiliation.

Yet, I agree think Eagle projects could have even more relevance in the community if Scouts were encouraged to raise the bar like this.  So, for that matter, I think this is a good example of innovation in an Eagle project.

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While the premise is laudable the danger of it becoming a political punching bag would have been considerable.  On the other hand, taking the campaign to another level, and incorporating other youth is a focused and well-planned campaign might fit.  As it is presented in the vague story, it would be hard-pressed to meet the project parameters.  Still, we do need to encourage our current generation to take control and work towards a better world environment.  

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The most non traditional project I've seen was one of our scout's organizing a dinner in our parish that showed the distribution of hunger in the world.  A very small number of people got a typical first world dinner: meat, rice, vegetables, dessert;  a slightly larger number received rice with a little bit of chicken; and everyone else received a cup of plain rice.  Along with the dinner he had presentations from groups that fight hunger, both locally and more broadly, with specific sign up opportunities to volunteer for them.  He then tracked the participation rates of those who volunteered that evening.

There was some push back on it initially, he had the leadership part covered by organizing his fellow scouts to cook dinner for over a hundred people.  The lasting impact part took some explaining but it was fulfilled by both the educational aspect and the specific volunteer work generated by the event.

Beat the heck out of another park bench as far as i was concerned. 

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I think campaigning for legislation is not an Eagle project because there is no named beneficiary.

However, legislation is often a step in the process. For example, Son #1 had to attend several borough meetings and meetings with town planners to get approval to release funds from a state grant for materials to do his project.

In this scout's case I think a suitable project would be mobilizing the community to change recycling patterns. Legislating plastic handling would be the first step. Educating and enabling community members would be the next step, followed by an evaluation period and report back to the legislating body. This could benefit a town or county in any number of ways ... not the least of which would be the hours of manpower saved in mobilizing enforcement. But, when we lay out all of the steps like that, it begins to sound like a series of projects on the way to a Hornaday award.

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5 hours ago, mrkstvns said:

I read an article today about a Boy Scout whose Eagle project proposal was turned down, because it didn't seem to involve leadership of others. The project was to advocate for a local ordinance involving plastic handling. (Despite not getting it approved as an Eagle project, he believed in the concept and did it anyway.)

His proposed project was certainly a lot different in focus than the vast majority of Eagle projects I've seen.  I wonder what I would advise a scout who wanted to do something like that....What would you tell the scout?  If you were that scout's Scoutmaster or Committee Chair, would you approve his project proposal, or would you advise him to find something more traditional?

Here's the story...
https://buffalonews.com/2019/08/18/east-aurora-teen-on-his-proposed-plastic-ban-facing-public-hearing-monday-how-could-i-stop-people-from-polluting-the-earth/ 

 

I would tell him that BSA was supposed to be apolitical.  A better project would be an education campaign about plastics, or about plastic recycling.  Wish I could read the linked article.  

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