Kari Fulton Builds a Coalition

Question: What is the difference between coalition-building and organizational leadership?

Kari Fulton: The difference is consensus takes a long, long time. You may never actually reach it. So, there is always... even it is very interesting because I worked with... in a coalition within a coalition. So I have to manage two different coalition strategies. So, you have EAC which has a lot of more mainstream organizations and then you have EJCC which has a lot of social justice and environmental justice organizations. So, at times the EAC might want to move on a legislation or supporting something or calling for something with our lobby days or whatever and so we have to make sure that we are going back to the EJ community especially our elders and the community and listening to them and saying okay, what do you all think about this situation. So for me as someone who was young and coming into this right out of college, it was the best experience because I was able to get broader perspective of the environmental movement, because I have my EJ folk over here who are in the trenches, in the grassroots and then you have your policy wonky, like Alliance for Climate Protection, you know, Apollo, like those type of groups that are really into policy and debate and stuff like that and I can see it from both sides. So...

But one thing I think is interesting is that often times that voice of the grassroots person isn't heard, is not heard but then gradually later on, that policy person will retract what they said and go right with what the grassroots person was saying and so as my duty as a young leader, I feel like having the opportunity to work with so many grassroots organizations and EJ organizations, makes me realize the relevance of listening to these different groups and I think that every movement should start from the people who are impacted and then listen to them first before they decide on policies and agendas that are going to set the future for everyone.

Question: What is your leadership style?

Kari Fulton: Well, on different days, it takes different roles, I would say. Some days I feel like I'm the mother hen or the ethical leader. So, at times people comes to me like this is going on, this is going on and like oh, aaahhh so sometimes I feel like I have to... I feel more comfortable defending the rights of others than I do myself. So, when that happens I'm like I need to go, we need to rush, we like... you don't feel supported? What am I going to do to make sure you feel supported and that's what I think what type of leader I've had to be and I've been for awhile and now I'm just kind of looking at it like... along with the ethical aspect of wanting to do right by my people and knowing that that is my goal of any work that I do is to support my people, my family, my community, my culture. I think it is very important, but I also realize that if I just stood on my ethics and didn't have a strategy or a vision, I won't be anything and people need more than just someone to rah-rah for them. They need also someone to build that mission in and invigorate them to actually want to go on it and have a broader vision. So, I think that's where I would like to see myself and I don't want ever lose my ethical ways or my ability to be a process leader. I think those are very, very important skills to have but right now I think I'm sitting, just sitting around meditating on this bigger vision that I have and this bigger strategy and so I want to use all these lessons that I've had to really build that up.

Recorded on: May 8, 2009

The activist talks about the fine art of reaching consensus.

‘Designer baby’ book trilogy explores the moral dilemmas humans may soon create

How would the ability to genetically customize children change society? Sci-fi author Eugene Clark explores the future on our horizon in Volume I of the "Genetic Pressure" series.

Surprising Science
  • A new sci-fi book series called "Genetic Pressure" explores the scientific and moral implications of a world with a burgeoning designer baby industry.
  • It's currently illegal to implant genetically edited human embryos in most nations, but designer babies may someday become widespread.
  • While gene-editing technology could help humans eliminate genetic diseases, some in the scientific community fear it may also usher in a new era of eugenics.
Keep reading Show less

Discovery of two giant radio galaxies hints at more to come

The newly discovered galaxies are 62x bigger than the Milky Way.

I. Heywood, University of Oxford / Rhodes University / South African Radio Astronomy Observatory / CC BY 4.0.
Surprising Science
  • Two recently discovered radio galaxies are among the largest objects in the cosmos.
  • The discovery implies that radio galaxies are more common than previously thought.
  • The discovery was made while creating a radio map of the sky with a small part of a new radio array.
Keep reading Show less

The secret life of maladaptive daydreaming

Daydreaming can be a pleasant pastime, but people who suffer from maladaptive daydreamers are trapped by their fantasies.

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Mind & Brain
  • Maladaptive daydreamers can experience intricate, vivid daydreams for hours a day.
  • This addiction can result in disassociation from vital life tasks and relationships.
  • Psychologists, online communities, and social pipelines are spreading awareness and hope for many.
  • Keep reading Show less

    Massive 'Darth Vader' isopod found lurking in the Indian Ocean

    The father of all giant sea bugs was recently discovered off the coast of Java.

    SJADE 2018
    Surprising Science
    • A new species of isopod with a resemblance to a certain Sith lord was just discovered.
    • It is the first known giant isopod from the Indian Ocean.
    • The finding extends the list of giant isopods even further.
    Keep reading Show less

    Why it's important to admit when you're wrong

    Psychologists point to specific reasons that make it hard for us to admit our wrongdoing.

    Credit: Adobe Stock
    Mind & Brain
    • Admitting mistakes can be very difficult for our ego and self-image, say psychologists.
    • Refusing to own up to guilt boosts the ego and can feel more satisfying.
    • Not acknowledging you are wrong can lead to psychological issues and ruined relationships.
    Keep reading Show less
    Quantcast