I get very emotional when I feel like I cannot change something I feel needs to be changed.

Consequently, I have been a bit off the grid lately, moping, reformulating, and reflecting on personal issues which probably have nothing to do with tearing down gender norms, uniting marginalized groups, or getting people to go to schools and say "stop f*cking harassing and attacking our LGBTQ youth" instead of saying “don't bully.”

But these things do keep spinning around me as news from the outside world, mixed in with a whirlwind of ignorant depoliticizing rhetoric from sources that should know better. And I've been sucked into institutional frameworks that constantly say “it IS better” because it usually is when you are near-sighted and look only directly backward.

I was going to write a post about the differences between progressive movements in larger cities and smaller places like where I live. Because I think it is interesting, and there are many pros and cons each way; I will not be one of those people who perpetuates the myth that every non-metropolitan area is socially backward. I will also not be one of those people who looks at the fact that gays and lesbians can get married in Iowa and say that makes Iowa a particularly progressive state. Social Progress does not come one issue at a time, or at least not successfully. We have a political system where compromises are made all the time to get things done, so in cases like the health care bill, progress gets compromised right into oblivion. But I digress.

Rather than do a whole post on all the differences between movements in larger areas vs smaller areas, I'll limit it to one or two. One of the most significant differences is that in smaller areas, because they are often less integrated into the larger movements, there are often interesting and new forms of resistance and organizing that are a result of local culture. Because of their smaller size, it is often easier to make big waves as well. In short, smaller areas have the opportunity to become very unique spaces for movements, while in larger areas, unique movements often must form either in conjunction with or even in opposition to whatever large-scale movement may be going on there.

Of course that's no guarantee that one WILL end up with one of those uniquely forward thinking communities or movements in a small place. And when one doesn't, it is often really difficult getting many people to understand why it is important to have a more nuanced perspective on social and economic issues than they already do. When people become trailblazers based on relatively moderate ideals, when they make progress with these rather moderate ideas, it is exceedingly difficult to show people that this isn't enough, save for the people who directly experience the shortcomings of such a moderate movement and/or understand the source of those shortcomings.

Instead, the once trailblazing movement becomes an institutional roadblock, co-opted by people who were not really all that different from the accepted norm and who are quite satisfied to see that they have been incorporated into the mainstream. I realize, by this point, this is no longer a situation which qualifies as a difference between larger and smaller areas, save for the fact that larger areas have enough people and resources for movements to split, and smaller areas don't.

What a lonely progressive might often hear is: "We are already diverse. We already have anti-bullying policies in place. We let people be who they want to be, we just don't have any of those people here. You are just being oppositional. You just want to be radical. You are trying to make an issue where there isn't one." Meanwhile we're ripe to be another headline in the national news.

But we must remember: if one voice raises an issue, there is an issue.

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