Keeping Families Together
The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog
February 8, 2013
High Concept Statements: Searching For The Essence
By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA
Here is an exercise you should do. Pick something you are doing right now, something important, and describe it with one sentence, as short as possible. Could you do it? You’ll leave a lot of things out, things you think are so important that they shouldn’t be left out, but what this exercise forces you to do is to consider the essence of what you are doing.
We are doing the exercise right now. For a variety of reasons, we wanted to get back to when we started and first began thinking of what exactly API Family Pride should be doing. We knew there was a need, but we had to articulate the concept to anchor our efforts and not spread ourselves too thin. Eventually our efforts resulted in our mission statement which is a good summary of why we exist and what we do. But since that time almost twenty years ago, the understanding of why we do what we do is sharpened by experience. So we asked ourselves, is there a better way to convey to anybody who wants to know what we are all about?
We sat around the table and brainstormed. After a surprising amount of time going over this, we realized that the title of our blog best captures the essence of what we do: API Family Pride keeps families together. The statement expresses what Hollywood calls our “high concept.” It explains why we exist. Once we have a “high concept” statement we can use it to decide where to concentrate our scarce resources and to derive short statements for specific projects or collaborations.
For example, we are updating our film Coming Out, Coming Home and have to raise money to pay for it. One way is to apply for grants. We have to convince possible donors that updating the film is important and worthy of their support. We needed a statement that captures what the film is about and at the same time relates to our “high concept” statement. Here is what we came up with: “Extraordinary stories of API families with LGBT children, who struggled with ancient homophobic taboos and managed to keep their families whole.”
Another example, we value coalitions with API communities and organizations. We all must work together to leverage our respective resources. All of them are important and fill a need, but all have limited resources. Where should we spent most of our time and energy: Out4Immigration or API Equality—Northern California? For us that question translates into: which of those two organizations is closest to our “high concept” statement? It does not mean that one is less important than the other, it means that our alignment with one of them should be greater than with the other. The greater alignment receives more of our support. And we do this across the board.
We find that applying our “high concept” statement to allocate resources and to decide what projects to participate in is easier than to use our mission statement. It must be used with caution, however, because the “high concept” statement is more abstract than the mission statement and thus misses some of the aspects of what we do, such as, support, education, and dialog. As a first order decision point, however, it is very useful.
Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride, www.apifamilypride.org