Kennedy's Legacy: A Movement That Can Multitask

10/19/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

What I find most remarkable about Ted Kennedy's legacy is not a particular legislative accomplishment. What has stood out for me is his ability to balance his vision with the most pragmatic of details, across the wide breadth of issues. This enabled him to navigate incremental victories one moment, while at the next moment serving as the inspirational -- and at times even enraged -- voice of change.

At times, we who work for social change can lose our ability to balance between vision and details. This problem can be compounded for those employed in the social change sector where our priorities can even be defined by our paycheck. If we work on climate change, then climate change trumps all. If we work on voting rights, then fixing the electoral system is the key. While this kind of laser-like focus can drive organizational focus and success, in reality, as individuals none of us are so narrowly focused and neither are our constituencies.

As a platform for ideas and action, Tides knows that the movement for change must be able to multi-task. At the Tides Momentum conference next week we're presenting a mosaic of ideas that break down issue silos and combine a big picture vision with a deep dive into the tools of change. In the Power plenary, an openly gay Episcopal Bishop will share the stage with an expert in the management of voter files. The Conflict plenary includes an Arms Control expert and an expert on urban youth. We'll will dissect the financial crisis in Capital and challenge the audience to get inspired about the greening of Walmart in Carbon. It's the kind of exchange of ideas that Ted Kennedy would have loved. For those of you (like Stephen Colbert ) who might not make it to San Francisco for Momentum next week, you can experience the exchange of ideas online at