Conversations That Can Change the World

by Melissa Emmal, Senior Trainer 


It has always been easy for me to connect to the urgency and importance of getting involved when faced with a potentially dangerous situation (we call them reactive green dots, but you can call them whatever you want). What has been more difficult for me is connecting to the importance of engaging in the daily small actions that show our values to others around this issue (we call them proactive green dots). Values that express intolerance of violence and harassment and expectations about everyone’s responsibility for getting involved. Small actions like conversations. It’s easy for me to think, “will this conversation even matter? It’s not like this conversation can change the world, right?” And I don’t know about you, but when I don’t believe an action will matter, it’s unlikely I’ll take it. But then one day, I saw the powerful spread of a single proactive conversation unfold right before my eyes when I was at a Green Dot Training in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Here is what happened:

(1) A guy from KY attends a green dot (GD) training at the university he is attending. (2) The guy talks to his buddy who is living in Fairbanks, AK and tells him what he learned. (3) When Green Dot makes it to AK, the buddy attends the first open training at the urging of his KY friend. (4) Buddy leaves training and has dinner with friend who works at popular brewery in town. During dinner, he does his first proactive green dot by sharing the GD basics. (5) After GD training a random volunteer from Scotland heads to the local brewery for a beer wearing her green dot sweatshirt. (6) Bartender sees sweatshirt and exclaims “my friend just told me about green dot!” (7) Scottish beer drinker engages in GD banter with bartender then returns to her table to tell her colleagues about the exciting conversation. (8) One such colleague was the Coordinator for the community launch of GD in Fairbanks who returns to the bartender with an extraordinary idea “let us train your staff!!” (9) One inspired individual who witnessed the whole thing (that would be me) posted the series on FB. (10) A local faculty at University of Alaska Fairbanks spots the post and shares it on her FB page. (11) The next day happens to be her anniversary so her husband shares her re-post and includes some honoring words about his wife’s commitment to prevention. (12) Husband goes one step further and writes his own post including a picture of himself wearing green dot gear… (13) And the dots keep going….

Thanks dude from the college in KY. Your green dot made it to a bar in Alaska and spurred a flurry of prevention including laying the foundation for a popular bar to be equipped to respond to those who may be at high risk.

When I’m having trouble connecting to the importance of engaging in a conversation, posting an article, or wearing my Green Dot pin I remember the dude from Kentucky and the unexpected reach of his small choice. And then I get inspired and I jump right in. So, I encourage you to have that conversation, post that link, wear that sweatshirt. Keep using your small choices to further expand prevention and influence the choices of other.

Where might your next green dot lead? The possibilities are endless…

Remember, your conversations literally can change the world.

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