Welcome to Cog & Gear

A strong evaluation or measurement plan positions you to make the most of policy opportunities. It prepares you to better manage unforeseen challenges. And it helps you meet the information needs of your management, board, and funders efficiently, and with less stress.

A good measurement plan creates tools and systems that generate meaningful data, while respecting the limits of your staffing, technology, time, and budget.

I am fascinated with measuring change in advocacy fields, and creating tools that help organizers and advocates maximize the impact they can achieve with the resources at their disposal. I enjoy connecting with others who also love getting “under the hood” of advocacy and organizing work.

The goal of this blog is to share with you things that I’m learning that could increase your advocacy impact. I look forward to hearing from you the challenges that you are facing, and what tools and systems are helping you to excel.

Why Cog & Gear?

The people who inspire us to be out best possible selves — as citizens, advocates, organizers, and friends — have uncommon vision, skill in their craft, the courage to take risks, and patience to persevere. I had the great fortune to meet two women of vision while developing this Web site and blog. They are the people behind the “cog.”

My Web site designer, Willa Rohrer, took my love of tools and transformed it through her keen mind for photography and design. Her eye for what works, both in prose and in images, inspired me to think more deeply about the skills I bring to the strategy and evaluation fields. Starting with the inchoate ideas I presented her at the start of our Web site project, Willa wrested meaning and beauty from them.

The tools and artefacts in Willa’s photos are from a Philadelphia property that Willa’s family has called home since the 1980s, when her grandfather, the esteemed painter and educator Warren Rohrer, moved his studio there.

The studio previously was home to another artist, Violet Oakley, a highly celebrated muralist of the early 1900s. Ms. Oakley’s monumental, colorful work adorns Pennsylvania’s senate chamber and supreme court, as well as many other private and public buildings. Ms. Oakley nurtured an artistic community on the site with a group of friends and colleagues. They named it Cogslea, an acronym comprised of the names of four of the women who lived and worked there.

In adapting their name for my blog, I hope to channel, in some small part, the enterprising and creative spirit of these remarkable women.

And why “gear” in this blog? Gears inspire this work because they transform energy and amplify power.

In a 1989 interview, Warren Rohrer said “I learned to think about the landscape as being a message bearer. It gave me information about forces greater than I am.”

In a different context, this is what I hope our blog conversation will be about: Gathering data from the organizing and advocacy “landscape.” Using that information to learn more about how successful advocates are working the levers of power: social, cultural, and political. Sharing that knowledge to advance a more equitable future.

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