Profound social change requires movements. Movements open our hearts and minds. They create the favourable political conditions for legislative change, resource allocation and policy shifts. The recent Paris Climate Agreement would not have happened without a global, grassroots climate movement decades in the making.
Social movements do two things much better than other forms of organizing such as committees, task forces, partnerships and coalitions.
First, they provide a vehicle for collaborating and mobilizing across sectors, organizational boundaries, social and economic strata, origins, backgrounds and jurisdictions. They are the ultimate inclusive container, encompassing the full assortment of actors and actions required for transformative change.
Second, they embolden decision makers, particularly politicians. They shift the boundaries of what is socially acceptable and politically expected. They create the receptive climate for new ideas to take hold.
You don’t need to start a new movement. Simply support the one(s) you are already part of. For example, the poverty reduction/anti-poverty movements comprise welfare reform, minimum wage, fair wage and guaranteed annual income advocates. Chances are high they could find a common agenda with folks addressing underemployment, unemployment, homelessness, food sovereignty, agri-business, urban gardening, social isolation and addiction, to name a few.
Here are 8 questions to help you think and act like a movement.
- Which movements are you already part of?
- Who are the key players and actors in these movements?
- How can these movements help you achieve your organizational mission?
- How would you describe your movement objectives?
- What actions can you take to support the movements you are already part of?
- Which movement players could you align with?
- Are you welcoming and supporting disruptive, frontline, grassroots individuals and groups?
- What about artists, painters, dancers, poets, sculptors, singers, storytellers…?
By setting aside time and resources for movement thinking and acting, we give greater lift to our collective aspirations. There are no shortcuts. Only when people come together in large numbers do we get the world we want.
- Check out the conversation on social movements I had recently with Marian Tompson, esteemed founder of La Leche League. Click here.
- Enter my musical contest Impact Swings and win BIG. It’s easy and it’s fun.
Movements are, “about flow, networking, connectivity, immediacy, creativity and an immediate sensual intimacy.”
Budd Hall, poet, social movement scholar, practitioner of community based research and socially responsible higher education.
“It was in Bobcaygeon I saw the constellations
Reveal themselves one star at a time”