This week, we’re honored to share some ideas from communications superhero, Helvetika Bold. Created by our friends at Opportunity Agenda, Helvetika Bold is the kind of hero our movements need—sassy and strong, outspoken and on-message. Enjoy the tips and tricks she shared with us in a recent interview!
Helvetika, what is your top advice for social change communicators?
First of all, I’d like to give a shout out to all my fellow superheroes out there. If you are fighting for social justice, that’s you. Power-fist bump, y’all! Okay, now on to your question.
Before we do anything, we’ve gotta get real clear on who, and what, we are fighting – the greatest supervillain of our time: The Mindset. But be careful, because this dude has one serious superpower: The Dominant Narrative. As a result, the fear he wields is everywhere. But don’t flip out, because we have powers too. Among them, our shared values – equality, mobility, voice, redemption, community and security – which are more powerful than his mind-closing lockbox. So our job is to get people to think ‘outside the lockbox’ by using our shared values when we communicate.
What secret weapon do you think all social change communicators should have in their toolkit when fighting for social justice and greater equality?
Batman may have his tricked-out Bat Cave, Superman can skulk off to his Fortress of Solitude, but I’ve got a Reflecting Pool. That’s the place where I go to take a deep look inside myself and seek the wisdom of the many great heroes who came before me, which connects me to our shared, core values that have existed through time. That’s the source of my power, and also where I find the way to connect with others.
Then I use my greatest weapon, my voice. And I’m not talking about my big mouth here. I’m talking about The Voice that comes from within all of us. It’s the secret weapon we all have, and have to learn to use better.
Helvetika, how do you keep all of your tools straight? How can us mere mortals account for these tools and message as well as you?
Value, Problem, Solution, Action, baby. VPSA! That’s my method. That’s my Kung Fu.
Helvetika, there is a critique that says heroes are part of our problem, that focusing on a single story actually eclipses the many experiences and stories that make up a movement. How do you respond to this critique?
As the great everyday superhero Unemployed Man says, “We are the heroes we’ve been waiting for” That’ me. That’s you. So while I get what you’re saying, we don’t need to be more hero-less, we need to be more hero-full. And generating that chain reaction is part of every hero’s job: not just to be become better heroes ourselves, but give other people the tools, resources, access, training and relationships so that THEY can become better heroes, too.
Individuals are powerful, but more so when they act collectively. Collectives are powerful, but more so when they are filled with amazing individuals. Think X-men, The Avengers, The Justice League. Movements of the future will be superhero supergroups of millions of people. So if you are reading this: put your mask, capes and spandex on, and start learning some new powerful tools. Be ready, ‘cause we’re gonna need you.
Helvetika, obviously we know that words are your super powers, but what about images, what role do they have to play in change communications?
Have you even seen my outfit? Image is an incredibly important part of making an impact. My power isn’t just words, it’s the ability to shift the narrative, and that means that I use any form of communication, be it words, pictures, music, film, guerilla light projection, you name it. While we need to think more broadly about what we communicate, but we also need to think about how we communicate: The medium. The art form. The genre. That is exactly why my everyday alter ego, Ariel Black, needed to become Helvetika Bold, because Ariel’s day job was writing white papers that let’s be honest, nobody was gonna read. So let’s not limit ourselves to just words, let’s employ the full spectrum of creative tools to communicate our values. I mean, the whole reason we are even talking right now is because I’m a superhero, right? Okay, it’s either that, or that I just look so damn good. Either way, point made.
Helvetika, if you could invite any of your fellow superheroes to a dinner party who would you invite, and why?
Oh boy, I’d have to cook for days because that’d be one hell of a party. Besides Feminist Hulk, The Green Lumen, and SuperBarrio I’d be chowing down with legions of my social justice superheroes. You know who you are. But this won’t just be some nice little, sit down dinner party. As one of my inspirations said: “if I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” So that means if you come to my party, you’re gonna be up and dancing to my playlist of funked-up social justice jams. Hit it!
Want to get to know me better? Download my origin story here.
Images courtesy of Helvetika Bold.
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Helvetika Bold is a new kind of superhero. She stands for each of our powers to inspire hope, amplify voices, and uphold the values we all share and cherish. Helvetika resides in everyone who wants progressive change.