I was recently planning an event with a group of friends, and invited someone to join our informal planning committee. Her immediate response was: "I'm on so many committees for work already. I'll come, but I don't want to get more involved than that."
I totally respected where she was coming from (having regularly succumbed to the habit of over-committing myself), and let it go. But I had this strange sense of deja vu; why did that type of response seem so familiar?
I later realized it was because I often face a similar situation in my professional life. When trying to engage scientists to become advocates or stronger communicators for science, I'm frequently told how much people want to participate, but then when it comes to actually doing things, there just isn't enough time in the day.
Advocacy and communication for and about science is my actual job, not something I do in addition to my work. When it comes to additions - like showing up to the city council meeting to defend the value of the public library or lower community center fees - I have just as much trouble scheduling it into my day as the next person.
So what is the solution? How can we make it easier to get involved with things we really care about but don't usually have the time to do?