The Ripple Effects of Change Agents

WP Motivate
WP Motivate
The Ripple Effects of Change Agents

As Michelle prepared for WordCamp Rochester, a visit to the final resting places of both Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass with WCROC’s keynote speaker Nyasha Green sparks awareness of the dramatic impacts that change agents can make on the world. The right to vote was, in their day, a privilege allowed only to few. We’re now the recipients of the work these hard-working change agents have made on our world. As we continue to think about legacy and impact, we consider our own impact and legacy and the desire to be change agents for the betterment of our own worlds.

Episode Transcript

[00:00:01] Speaker A: Start your week smiling with your friends Kathy Zant and Michelle Frechette. It’s time to get ready for some weekly motivation with WP Motivate.

Happy Thursday, Kathy.

[00:00:15] Speaker B: Happy Thursday. You’ve got a big weekend up ahead, don’t you?

[00:00:19] Speaker A: Oh, my gosh. Don’t remind me.

By the time everybody listens to this, it will be behind us. But, yeah, WordCamp Rochester is coming up. Tomorrow night is the speaker dinner and Saturday is WordCamp. And yeah, it’s a lot of work. And I was on the social hour, torque magazine social hour earlier this week with Tom Finley and of course, Doc pop, and we talked about how WordCamps are really kind of changing. And it’s really true.

There are only two word camps in the United States. Last year. Montclair and us. And US was small by design, 650 people, which doesn’t feel small to a regional camp. It is small for a flagship event. And Montclair, I think they had a limit of how many they could fit in the space, but they maxed it. And then this year, all of the word camps feel much smaller.

I think you would know phoenix was smaller than it used to be. Pre pandemic, yes.

Buffalo was smaller.

Montclair had around 100 people, and we’re not able to provide an after party because of limited budget. And Rochester, I did raise all the funds we needed to be able to do the after party and the speaker dinner and all that, but it looks like we’re going to have fewer than 70 people actually in attendance.

Yeah, it’s been interesting, for sure. But I’m still excited. I’m still excited about it and I’m sorry, what were you going to say?

[00:01:49] Speaker B: I was going to say, is it the same venue that you had before at the college?

[00:01:53] Speaker A: No, it’s a different venue altogether. So colleges tend to be expensive. I think every time I say that to somebody in Canada, there’s a rumor out there that US colleges have to give so much time a year to charitable organizations and that kind of stuff, and that’s just not true. I worked at a university for over 20 years, colleges and universities, and they could charge whatever they want for that space and post pandemic those charges, the costs went up even more. But I was able to secure the school of the arts, which is a public high school here in Rochester. It’s what they call a magnet school. So it’s a school of choice. You have to audition to be able to go there. It’s a beautiful area. They have several stages, and so we have one classroom and one of the auditoriums, and so that’s where Kim Rochester is going to be.

You and I were talking a little bit about gratitude beforehand, and I’m really grateful because I’m so excited about my keynote speaker. Naisha Green is giving the keynote about community on Saturday, and I’m lucky because I got to pick her up from the airport today. And she’s staying at my house, actually. If you see this online and you see the guitars behind me, that futon right below those guitars is where she’s going to be staying this weekend. I hope it’s comfortable, but super excited about that. So I picked her up from the airport and tried to figure out what would be a good lunch. And I’m like, let’s get Indian food. Because I don’t know about you, but I love Indian food. But it’s got to be mild. She’s over there asking for hot sauce and adding more heat.

I’m sweating just watching it, I think, but I love that she could have the same meal I did, but at different levels of what I call pain. Yeah, I don’t want my food to hurt me.

[00:03:37] Speaker B: Yeah, exactly.

I had Indian food a few months ago. It was on my birthday.

We had Indian food, and it hurt me. It was the most painful hot, spicy I don’t know if they had it was just the non bread, too. And that was supposed to be the stuff that calms everything down.

[00:03:58] Speaker A: It might have been garlic. Non, though. They put that fresh garlic on there. Man, that stuff is spicy.

[00:04:03] Speaker B: It can be.

[00:04:05] Speaker A: So after that, I was like, oh, I want to show around Rochester a little bit. And so we went to Mount Hope Cemetery, and I’ll try to remember to put it in the show notes. A link to Mount Hope Cemetery, in case anybody’s interested. But we don’t actually know how many people are buried at Mount Hope Cemetery. The cemetery dates back to, I want to say the mid 18 hundreds, but it might even be older than that. If you follow me on Instagram or you follow any of my photos. Sometimes I posted photos of graves, and they’re almost always from cemetery. And I was like, oh, you want to see where Frederick Douglass is buried? And Susan B. Anthony. So she’s able to get out of the car because it’s a little bit of a walk. So I kind of waited, and she was able to take pictures of those graves. And it got me thinking about what a change agent is and how you can be a change agent that’s not necessarily valued in your own timeline, or at least not valued by everybody in your own timeline. And yet hundreds of years later, over a hundred years later, people are still putting flowers on your grave. And in the case of Susan B. Anthony, every year that there’s the elections in November, people take their I voted sticker and just plaster her headstone with the I voted stickers. Yeah. So before elections now they actually put plastic over so that it’s not ruining the headstone. And all those I voted stickers get put on the plastic. One year, the year that Hillary Clinton ran against Donald Trump, before the election was even announced, people would go there. And there was a two hour line just to get to her grave, to put your sticker on.

[00:05:36] Speaker B: Wow.

[00:05:37] Speaker A: And I think that she was revered in her time by a lot of people, by people who wanted to see change, but she was also lambasted, just lambasted by so many people who thought that women shouldn’t have the right to vote and shouldn’t have the rights as human beings in a lot of cases, to hold property. I learned recently that it was in the before women could actually own a bank account that didn’t have a man’s name on it, too.

Yeah, it was like 1974 or five or something like that, that if you were a single woman, your dad or your brother had to still be on your bank account, you couldn’t have your own bank account. So we’ve come a long ways in 40, 50 years.

But to be sure, I don’t think that when she died, certainly there were a lot of people whose National Women’s Organization, national association of Women, NAO and NA, which were two different things and kind of fought with each other over who should have the rights to represent women because no group of people ever can agree on that either.

And there were so many people that spoke at her funeral, and a lot of men. There was only one or two women, I think. Sojin or truth, was the only woman who actually spoke at her funeral.

But even though she was revered by people in her lifetime, she was also absolutely just the butt of jokes and cartoons and all of those kinds of things, and she didn’t actually live to see women have the right to vote. She died in 1904, and women got the right to vote in 1920. So she did the work, but she was not valued as much in 1904 when she passed as she is today and looked back on. But even so, she whole little history lesson here. She and Frederick Douglass were friends. They were contemporaries. They lived here in Rochester at the same time. They agreed that she was also an abolitionist, but of course they were friends. After the slaves were freed, they agreed that everybody should have the right to vote. They disagreed on who should have the right first. And so he said that black men should have the right to vote first. She said white women should have the right to vote first, and sometimes she’s called racist because of that. But I think it’s that she was so passionate about her own cause, as was he, that they were friends, and they agreed to disagree on timeline, proposed timeline, but ultimately, freed slaves were given citizenship first, and then women were able to use the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendment to argue for women having the right to vote. Okay, there’s your history lesson for this week. You didn’t listen to nobody tuned into this podcast for that. But the truth is.

[00:08:20] Speaker B: It’S so interesting, though, because as you’re talking about it.

[00:08:23] Speaker A: It’S like there’s a lot of stuff.

[00:08:24] Speaker B: That we take for granted that a lot of people had to fight really hard for, right? So, like, 100 years ago, 200 years ago, the attitudes, the social mores, the mindsets of people were so different. And it really took these people to work really hard against the status quo of, well, that’s the way we’ve already always done things like, who are you with these new ideas? This is the way things are done in our world. And they had to swim against that, and they had to fight for their vision, and we now take that for granted. I know a ton of people who take the right to vote for granted. A ton of people who take the right my daughter takes her little banking account for granted. And like, the money that I put.

[00:09:18] Speaker A: In it for.

[00:09:21] Speaker B: It’S really easy when something just seems like the status quo you take for granted. That’s the way it’s always been.

And so you lose kind of like that gratitude of, somebody had to fight for this, for you, for me, human.

[00:09:37] Speaker A: Growth, and I’m not talking physical, although that is painful too, but the growth of humanity only comes out of discomfort. It does not come from places of comfort. It comes from places of discomfort. And in order for you to be a change agent, you have to recognize the discomfort, even if it isn’t your own, and help achieve better for everybody else. And it isn’t always easy. It isn’t always easy, and especially when you’re in a place of privilege to say, I have a place of privilege, but I can use that privilege for others.

And it’s not that people necessarily don’t want to, although, of course, there are lots of people who don’t want to, but sometimes you don’t even realize that you’re sitting in a place of privilege, and you don’t realize that you can use that privilege. You can share that privilege with other people.

We have a sticker on that says something along the lines of, you don’t lose your flame by lighting somebody else’s candle. And that’s not new. I didn’t think that up. But that’s something that we are moving forward, because in order to raise yourself up, raising other people up doesn’t push you down, I guess, be a change.


[00:10:48] Speaker B: Well, and actually lifting other people up lifts you up, because I know.

[00:10:54] Speaker A: Both.

[00:10:55] Speaker B: Of us are very committed in different ways to uplifting people in this community.

Let’s just talk about, well, you’re underrepresented Zenitintech, the jobs board stuff you do every Wednesday, the way you watch out for people, no matter where they are in the world, you’re there, and you lifting people up. Me getting active from the security standpoint, from the new people coming into Cadence, like all of this stuff where it’s like, oh, you’re ready to make your mark? Let’s do it. And just empowering these people. I was talking to somebody the other night, and she was doing all this stuff, and I’m like, you know, it’s really easy to do this.

You don’t even have to pay me. Let’s just get together on Zoom. Let’s just do it. Right?

[00:11:46] Speaker A: Yeah, exactly.

[00:11:48] Speaker B: I don’t want to do it for her. I want her to see how easy it is for her to do it herself. And you know what that does?

She’ll always remember I did that. Everybody that you lift up with, all of the work that you do, they remember. So it’s like you light their flame. Right? But then there’s always and I don’t know if it’s just, like, sweet karma or what, but you expand your influence, you expand who you are, and it’s like, I’m not even looking for that. I’m just like I get fired up when somebody who doesn’t think something’s possible and I can show them, yes, it is possible, and you can do this. Yes, you can.

[00:12:29] Speaker A: It’s funny, you make me think about I’ve been thinking about legacy a lot, and we talked about this with our 100 year episode. There about the 100 year URL, whatever. I was thinking a lot about, okay, my dad died last year. I’m not getting any younger. I’m facing 55th birthday next month. And I’m like, I really started to think about what does it mean to be looking at the downhill side of your life? I’m coasting to the end now. I’m not climbing up to the middle anymore. I’m on the other side of middle because I don’t care how I don’t want to be 110 years old. I just don’t. Right.

But I was thinking about what is legacy and what does that mean? And I want my legacy to be that I’ve helped others in a way that has that ripple effect, even if the people feeling it have no idea where it started and who I am. How many generations before you are just a line on a genealogy chart that somebody added to I don’t care if I’m just that line somewhere and people go, I wonder who she was, and how do you pronounce that last name? Right? As long as the work that I have done in my lifetime continues to have an effect on future generations for the good, that’s what real legacy is. Not that my name is attached to it, but that the work that I’m doing has that effect. And yes, of course we remember Susan B. Anthony. She was arrested for voting. Like, nobody’s going to forget her name, at least not in the next couple lifetimes, for sure.

But even if they did, we still have the right to vote. Women still have the right to vote in this country. It may be taken away sometimes. We’re not going to get into politics here, but we have the right to vote, because that ripple effect is still being felt and being seen even if we didn’t remember who she was. And to be fair, there were dozens, if not hundreds of women that worked alongside of her, and we only remember a handful of their names. All of those other women also contributed to this legacy of that ripple effect having happened. So it’s okay if you don’t remember who I am in years from now, as long as the work that I did had such a positive impact and I made sure that I was doing things in a positive way, that I was the change agent to help frame the future for other people.

[00:14:44] Speaker B: Yeah, that’s it. That’s entirely it. I was just talking to somebody because I’m in the same boat, right? Woman in her 50s, although I look younger.

[00:14:53] Speaker A: We both do. Yes, of course.

[00:14:56] Speaker B: But we’re here to it’s like you have many more years behind you in terms of the impact that you’ve had. And so you’re looking forward now, and I’m like, 510 years. I’m not doing this anymore, but I’m doing something.

But I’m going to make these years count, and whatever I do is going to have impact, and it’s not going to be stuck over on an island, and it’s not going to be swept under the rug, and it’s not going to be poo pooed.

You’re not happy with what I’m doing. I’ll do it on my own type of thing. I’m going to make it happen because it’s important to me. My biggest thing right now, I did that talk for Green Geeks, and it happens in the questions every time. Okay, we have questions. And I’m like, yes, this is where my gems come out. And these scams and these hackers are getting much more sophisticated. I’m seeing, like, AI voice recognition or voice replication types of technologies that are, like, tricking people into thinking that something’s true when it’s not. And I want everyone, all of us, whether you’re deep into the security world or you just want to look at Facebook on your phone, whatever it is, however you’re using technology, I want everyone to feel empowered enough to spot a scam and say, no, I’m not going to let this person fool me. I’m not going to let this person disempower me to give up something of value. I want everybody to face this brave new world that we’re in with empowerment. And it’s just like something that’s just like a fire in my soul of like, I’m not going to let humanity be disempowered by the tricksters. So it’s like something that’s really insanely passionate about.

[00:16:45] Speaker A: I know, and I learned so much about it from you. Like, oh, I guess I don’t have a LastPass account anymore because Kathy said I should move on to something else, which I have. So all those things because we can’t all follow every piece of news, right? That’s why we look to experts in our field to guide us in those ways. And that’s why I look to you as an expert in more than just security. And I throw questions at you like, what do I do about this? And you are able to give me guidance and counsel on that, and that’s a wonderful thing. Absolutely.

[00:17:18] Speaker B: We got to have each other’s back.

That’s where I think Spirit speaks to us of, like, here’s where your legacy is. It might just be helping one person, helping one person get online, helping one person get a hot meal tonight.

Whatever shows up is an opportunity for you to give, and then that give can get as big or small as you want it to be. And then that ends up kind of becoming this legacy. Right.

You feel this inspiration that comes out, and it’s like, I think the universe knows that each one of us has a legacy. Each one of us has something to give and a mark to leave on this world and make the world a better place.

[00:18:03] Speaker A: I agree. Absolutely.

So, yeah, I think legacy is important. I think being a change agent in order to create that legacy is important. But the name associated with it, who cares? In the long run, I’m not going to be here as long as the work keeps getting done. That’s what’s important. Yeah.

So I guess that’s all we got. Unless you got anything else to add. I feel like we just dropped some real big truth bombs, some real heavy.

We are going deep, for sure. Well, we have WordCamp Rochester this weekend, a couple of weeks down the road, word Camp Atlanta, and then I think that’s it for the year as far as US word camps.

So whoever you are, I’ll see you next year, I guess. Yeah.

[00:18:51] Speaker B: Well, we have Cadence Amplify is happening October 20, and then I’m going to be in Mexico next week. So I won’t be able to do this because I’ll skip planes.

[00:19:02] Speaker A: We’ll skip a week because this isn’t something I can just talk to myself and pretend to be both our voices. So we’ll be back in two weeks, everybody, and we’ll learn about how Cabo was and everything.

It I love it. That’d be great. All right, well, have a good week, and we’ll see everybody in two weeks. And in the meantime, make a ripple.

[00:19:22] Speaker B: Make a ripple.

[00:19:23] Speaker A: Make a ripple. Bye bye.

This has been WP Motivate with Kathy Zant and Michelle Frechette. To learn more or to sponsor us, go to