Photograph taken at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, GA

Hope in Action        

Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t have a dream.

I mean no disrespect with that statement, but it’s true. He had hope.

That distinction is important and one to which I was introduced while coffee-potting my way through graduate school.

Academic researchers Bonny Norton and Farah Kamal write that in his book, Teaching Against the Grain, Roger Simon “draws the distinction between ‘wishes,’ in which there is no possibility for action, and ‘hope,’ in which action becomes central in the fulfillment of desire.”

Wishes, or dreams, are wild fancies and involuntary visions in which, at most, you can only observe yourself participating. Hope is tied to the belief that change is possible—inevitable—through collective and conscious action. To be hopeful is to be expectant… This will happen.

For 20 years and counting, our hope at Banyan Communications has been to create change for good. By working with government agencies and nonprofits wanting to deliver complex information and crucial services in more engaging ways, we’ve been a part of projects that have had a positive and lasting impact on public health:

  • Our public service announcements for our first client, the Boys Town National Hotline, help connect children and families in crisis to immediate help. We also developed My Life My Voice, a mobile app that provides teens with an outlet to record their thoughts and track their moods through voice, text, and emoticon entries. When teens report feeling depressed, the app suggests activities they can do to change how they are feeling and helps them contact a free, professional counselor.
  • In 2003, we won a national Emmy Award for our work on No Greater Love, a documentary that highlights the increasing need for organ donation and transplantation in the United States. The film depicts what it’s like to wait for a phone call and a donor, as well as the loss and rebirth of life, through the stories of families whose loved ones have donated and those who have been given a second chance at life as organ recipients.
  • More recently, we launched an updated version of VetoViolence for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This interactive website provides tools and trainings that support individuals and organizations as they work to prevent violence in their communities. Content covers child maltreatment, intimate partner violence, sexual violence, suicide, and youth violence.
  • We’re also working on new digital stories for HIV Treatment Works—one of CDC’s Act Against AIDS campaigns—to encourage people living with HIV to get in care, stay in care, and live well. The videos feature people living with HIV sharing personal stories, advice and encouragement, and one will be in Spanish—a campaign first.

As people across the country honor Dr. King’s legacy of hope in action by volunteering on Monday, Jan. 19, for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, we’ll continue to approach our work here at Banyan by asking ourselves a question. And not just any question, but one that Dr. King deemed to be “life’s most persistent and urgent”—“What are you doing for others?”

What did you do today? What will you do tomorrow to create change for good?