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Speaking Up For Boys & Men with Blair Daly | Podcast Episode 011

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About This Episode -

Blair Daly of the Washington Initiative for Boys and Men shares about the challenges that men and boys are facing in the state of Washington and how IMPACT Players can get involved in helping advocate.

If you would like to learn more about how to get involved or what you can do to help, reach out to Blair at [email protected] or visit wibm.us to learn more.

To find out more about IMPACT Players, visit www.impactplayers.org.

Listen: Apple | Spotify | Google

Show Notes -

Transcript -

Warren Mainard: Hello guys, and welcome to the IMPACT Players Podcast. This is the Linking Shields podcast where we get together with other men who are fighting the good fight alongside of IMPACT Players just like you. Today, I am so thrilled to have with me a dynamic young man that I have just gotten the chance to get to know Blair Daly, who is the founder and director of the Washington Initiative for Boys and Men is going to be joining us. Blair, we'll look forward to hearing from you in just a moment. But before we do wanna say thank you to everybody who has been a part of this IMPACT Player's journey with us for the past three years as I'm coming up on the three year anniversary of me starting in this role. And it's been so exciting to see all the progress that we've been able to make over the last three years as our active roster has grown to nearly 700 men representing business leaders, community leaders, men of all kinds of different backgrounds throughout the Puget Sound and now expanding into Everett. So we're so excited to get ready to launch into this new fall year with our digital online platform. You can find that www.impactplayers.org and we'll tell you more about that late in later in the future. But also our IMPACT Breakfast are launching in October. Our traditional breakfast at SAMBICA in Bellevue on October 12th. Thrilled to have former Seattle Seahawks quarterback Jeff Kemp with us for that day. We're gonna be giving out 150 copies of his brand new book Receive so you can find out more details about that on our website. And then we're launching a new chapter of IMPACT Players in Everett and we're gonna be having our first IMPACT Breakfast in Everett on Friday, October 20th at Think Tank. And our guest speaker's gonna be Michael Lee, who is gonna be talking about setbacks and comebacks. And Michael's an executive leader coach with John Maxwell and also a Spartan Race champion. So lots of great stuff. And on top of that, we are launching our cohorts for this fall. So if you're a man looking to get together with other men to find a band of brothers that you can do life with, we encourage you to go onto our new website, sign up to join a cohort, and be a part of a transformative community experience with other men who are striving to be great husbands, fathers, and leaders just like you. Alright, now we're excited to get into to today's topic with my special guest, Blair Daly. And Blair, you came to me highly recommended from another new friend, named Scotty Burbanks, who introduced us when he realized that we had a shared passion for advocating for men, for advocating for young boys, and helping to make sure that the men in this community, the Puget Sound in the state of Washington, have a voice in an environment where that's not always the case. So tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do as the founder of the Washington Initiative for Boys and Men.

Blair Daly: Sure. Thank you. I grew up in Bellevue. I live in Redmond and I work in Kirkland. I went to Whitworth University for college and then did a Master of Public Administration at University of Washington Evans School of Public Policy. That's where I learned about the field of transportation planning and that's what I do for my day job. But about four or five years ago, I became aware of what I now know as boys and men's issues. And these are a broad range of areas where boys and men are struggling. I focus on the state of Washington as my geography that I carry out advocacy for. So, I have a couple websites. One is an advocacy blog, and so, and then the other one is a website that promotes a piece of legislation, House Bill 1270 that would establish a Washington State Commission on Boys and Men. So under Washington Initiative for Boys and Men, that's kinda the brand of my advocacy operation. I carry out advocacy, journalism and then also grassroots political organizing. So I meet with legislators, policy makers, and, I try to make sure that the needs and problems of our male population are being looked after.

Warren Mainard: And you sent me some information about the bill, but also just some statistics of what's happening with boys and men in the state of Washington. And the numbers are just jaw dropping and sad because, you know, I think a lot of times people think: oh, men have got it made. It's a man's world and, and everybody else is living in it. But the numbers really suggest something very different. I mean, whether it's death by suicide, overdose, incarceration, homelessness, students failing at school; guys are on the short end of the stick in all of these areas. Can you maybe touch on why that is the case? Like why is it that men are struggling in so many key and vital areas in our state?

Blair Daly: Couple things that I look at in my role related to political advocacy is: how much advocacy is going on for the male population and also how much money are we spending on helping them. There's two recent articles I've published that come to mind related to this. One is that I found that when it comes to grants that are given by government or by philanthropy, the value of those grants is about four times greater for grants that serve women and girls compared to grants that serve men and boys. So there's a pretty steep spending deficit on serving the male population. And there's also an even more extreme lack of advocacy for boys and men. My fact finding found about a 50, I found about 50 organizations advocating for empowering, helping, calling attention to the needs of women and girls for every one organization doing the same for men and boys. So perhaps we shouldn't be that surprised if culturally, politically we're not that interested in uplifting men and boys. We shouldn't be that surprised when we see these outcomes such as 77% of suicides in Washington state are male; 70% of the homeless unsheltered population are male; 68% of drug overdose deaths; 66% of alcohol abuse deaths; 60% of high school dropouts are boys; and 94% of our prison population are male. With those kinds of numbers, it seems reasonable that we would make it somebody's job to be concerned with improving the wellbeing of that population. It seems like policymakers might want a group of people that they could turn to who have credibility and expertise on the needs and problems of boys and men and what might be effective in helping them.

Warren Mainard: And you're really working in the political sphere, like you said, as an advocate. In my role with IMPACT Players, I'm working with men of all kinds of backgrounds with the vision of inspiring men to be great husbands, fathers, and leaders by equipping men to thrive in the relationships that matter most. And just yesterday we had a meeting with about 60 plus pastors, ministry leaders, business leaders in our community and I asked them the question: what are the biggest challenges that men are facing? And number one, the the top answer was men are feeling isolated and defeated. And, we talked a little bit about what that looks like in the context that these leaders live and work in. But one of the big takeaways that I had from that conversation yesterday was, that in many of the ways that we have strived to empower women, we've done so by simultaneously undercutting men. And I wonder how can someone like you, someone or an organization like the Washington Initiative for Boys and Men, how can you build up men without it being something that requires us to tear down women?

Blair Daly: Well, we do have a major optics challenge there because that is the perception that when you're trying to raise awareness about boys and men's issues, it is perceived, sometimes, as threatening to resources and attention that go to other populations. We try to send a message, for example, that from the very get go, my advocacy is very inclusive of women and is is largely driven by women. So, that might help kind of take the sting out of accusations that anything we're doing is motivated by a lack of concern for women or dislike for women. For example, this commission on boys and men that we'd like to get established at the Washington state level; our vision has always been that it would not be occupied only by men, that there'd be women on the commission. There'd be grandmothers of sons, moms of sons, women who have expertise on things like male homelessness and mental health counseling for males. And another aspect is the, the bipartisanship of the advocacy that I'm doing. So some might presume that this is coming from a very Republican angle or a conservative political angle. We are really trying to push back against that perception and point to, for example, the bill that we have is bipartisan in the sense that it's sponsored both by Democrats and Republicans by, actually, four women and three men. The prime sponsor of our bill is a woman, Mary Dye, who is a legislative advisor to the Women's Commission. There's another Democratic legislator whos an advisor to our existing Women's Commission who is on our team and is trying to help us succeed in 2024. So, women are very involved in this. We are pro-women, but we're identifying a gap. We're identifying a need that's not being met and trying to make a difference there.

Warren Mainard: And really all you're saying is: hey, we want to do whatever we can to help young men and adult men live healthy, successful, thriving lives. That shouldn't be a divisive message. It shouldn't be a partisan message. I mean, we're all human beings at the end of the day. So I'm excited to hear that you're really working to, you know, bring people together to link shields to cross the aisle in all of those ways. And it's interesting to me because, I talk a lot to women. I talk to wives and mothers, quite a bit in particular, and you're absolutely right. tThey are oftentimes the most vocal about their concerns about what's happening with issues related to boys and men. So many wives have said that it's not that they want their husband to step back, it's that they want their husband to step up. And so many mothers have come to me and said, I'm really worried about my son. He feels defeated, he feels isolated. He doesn't feel like he can thrive in an academic setting. He doesn't have any direction or purpose for his life. And yet at the same time, kind of the female peers are often hearing a totally different message, which is: you can be a superhero, you can be a doctor, you can be an engineer, you can be a mathematician. And in many ways, they're believing that positive message whereas the young men are believing the negative message that they're receiving.

Blair Daly: Yeah. I think in some ways we're still stuck in a pretty old fashioned mindset about things like gender equity or gender equality or empowerment for women and for men. I think we assume that males just feel very empowered and just by virtue of living in society, have confidence and have self-belief and think that they can do anything they want. They can achieve anything they set their mind to. That's really not always the case. I think it might be an assumption that we're making that women need to hear that message and that males just don't. That's not true. And there is some negative messaging that's getting through to our young people. I mean, especially boys. They just don't bear any responsibility for past injustices, past discrimination. None of that history should be disregarded. But boys, you know, we shouldn't take things out on boys in the sense of withholding support for them because they happen to be part of a class that we regard as historically advantaged.

Warren Mainard: Yeah, that's a great point. So what can men, what can our listeners do to better engage in this conversation related to being advocates, being voices for boys and men in our community, in our state, from whatever perspective that you're coming from?

Blair Daly: There's a lot of strategy that goes into this and there's a lot of relationship building. The reason I say that is because my main call to action would be contact me directly so that I can talk to you directly about what characteristics you have, what relationships you have that might be useful in helping us accomplish our our political goals. Please get on my email list and see if the stories that I publish about once a week interest you. If they do, stay on my email list. Visit my website wibm.us where you can subscribe to that email list and reach out to me directly so that we can connect. And I have a knack for mobilizing, for finding those strengths that each individual can bring to this cause and then plugging them in. And I oftentimes will do a fair amount of the work for you. You might say, "Hey, I care about this. Blair, the things you're saying makes sense to me. I think you're right, but I have no political experience. I don't have a lot of time either." You can still be helpful. I could draft an email for you. I can provide you very specific instructions on a couple next steps you could take and you can contribute.

Warren Mainard: That's terrific. So how do people follow you? How do they get in contact with you if they want to take a next step of action?

Blair Daly: My email address is Blair, that's b-l-a-i-r, @wibm.us. So that's my website: wibm.us is where Washington Initiative for Boys and Men Lives. That's my advocacy blog. And then the other website I mentioned earlier in this conversation, that is waboysandmen.org. That's the website specifically for promoting House Bill 1270. That if we can get it passed, we'll establish a Washington State Commission on Boys and Men to focus on five key areas where we see males need help.

Warren Mainard: And just tell us real quickly, this House Bill 1270, when is that being presented? Is there some kind of step that men need to take if they wanna see that move forward?

Blair Daly: Men and women need to help me.

Warren Mainard: Yes. Sorry. Men and women.

Blair Daly: Get in touch with me.

Warren Mainard: Yeah.

Blair Daly: And I will provide direction there. I mean, there's the general call to action that advocacy groups make which is contact your legislators, but frankly, that's not likely to make much of a difference without some strategy put into the messaging that you're delivering and who you're contacting and what names you're dropping when you do that contacting, and where you're physically showing up to have in-person conversations with people. So, please allow me to help guide you for those of you who wanna help get this passed. The next legislative session starts in January. It's a short session. So we really only have the first three weeks of January to accomplish the first hurdle in the journey for this bill, which is to get a public hearing in a committee. The committee is called the State Government and Tribal Relations Committee. So the leaders of that committee are one of our main focuses to advocate to, and to outreach to so that we can make it politically feasible for them to give this bill a chance. And genuinely to try to also open their hearts and mind to genuinely care about: hey, I see the need for this. I do wanna help boys and men and maybe get some cooperation from them on what steps we can take. If this commission is not the right route, what other things can we do? But our best work that we put into this suggests that we do need a body somewhere. We need it to be somebody's job, some group of people's job to be looking out for these issues.

Warren Mainard: Well, Blair, thank you so much for all that you're doing. For the benefit of our listeners, just a reminder that the Washington Initiative for Boys and Men is not a faith-based organization. It is a bipartisan organization focused on advocating for boys and men. IMPACT Players, conversely, is not a political organization. We don't advocate for one party over the other, but we are a group of men who care about helping everyone in our community thrive and succeed. But especially with our mission being inspiring men to be great husbands, fathers, and leaders, we really feel convinced that we need to be a part of this type of interaction with our community and with the government that we serve alongside of. And so, again, this is not a political campaign, it is a call to act on behalf of an underrepresented community in our state. And we hope that you'll take a step of action, reach out to Blair if you wanna find out more about what he's doing. Check out the two websites that Blair referenced. And of course, if your desire is to grow as a man, grow as a husband, a father and a leader, IMPACT Players is the place for you. Join us anytime for one of our breakfasts, our cohorts, or any other event that we offer. And you can find out more about that on impactplayers.org. Blair, thank you again for joining us and we'll look forward to hearing more from you and perhaps getting some updates from you in the months to come. But thank you for what you're doing to help create a better platform for there to be a voice for the boys and men in our community.

Blair Daly: Thank you, Warren.

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