You Always Have Power

It is New Year’s Day, and my wish for you is to have a powerful 2017. If you are committed to social change, the most important thing you can do right now is to remember that you are not powerless. The notion that you cannot do anything about the issues that bother you the most, … Continue reading “You Always Have Power”

You don’t try to fight the man by becoming the man

“The trouble with organizing a thing is that pretty soon folks get to paying more attention to the organization than to what they’re organized for.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder Organizing to create change doesn’t require creating your own little officialdom. It is too easy to lose your sense of purpose when you’re concentrating a great … Continue reading “You don’t try to fight the man by becoming the man”

Authority Versus Power

“Power does not consist in striking with force or with frequency, but in striking true.” – Honoré de Balzac There are those who say that you can’t have authority without power. There are also those who say that you can’t have power without authority. Either way, it is inescapable to lead change without some understanding … Continue reading “Authority Versus Power”

Cutting an Issue Out of a Social Problem

What is the difference between a problem and an issue? A “social problem” is a condition that negatively affects large numbers of people created as a result of public or private policies, or through practices embedded in social structures. The scale, and complex nature of these problems make them seemingly too big to take on. … Continue reading “Cutting an Issue Out of a Social Problem”

Strangers in Support of Thriving Communities

“I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” Blanche DuBois, A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams I have frequently written about the importance, and primacy of personal relationships when it comes to working for change. I continue to believe that most things that ultimately succeed in this world do so because of personal … Continue reading “Strangers in Support of Thriving Communities”

A Few Words About Anger

You are interested in social change. Therefore, I assume that you are probably angry about something, right? Anger is a powerful emotion. Repressing anger can create stress and anxiety. It has to be expressed. Anger can sometimes result in hopelessness, or in aggression (anger as payback). But, you don’t have to let anger drain you. … Continue reading “A Few Words About Anger”

Contrived Nostalgia as an Enemy of Change

“In every age ‘the good old days’ were a myth. No one ever thought they were good at the time. For every age has consisted of crises that seemed intolerable to the people who lived through them.” – Brooks Atkinson Manufactured nostalgia for a golden age, a mostly fictional, idealized “good old days” can be … Continue reading “Contrived Nostalgia as an Enemy of Change”

Public Perception and Opinion Leaders

“American public opinion is like an ocean, it cannot be stirred by a teaspoon.” – Hubert H. Humphrey Public perception of the issues related to the change you’re trying to make is often not based on evidence and facts. Those facts and that evidence cannot always see the light of day because of countless layers … Continue reading “Public Perception and Opinion Leaders”

Building Local Coalitions

At the community level, some change requires only a few dedicated people to be achieved. More frequently, however, the scale or complexity of a particular issue requires locking arms with additional individuals and groups to effectively make change happen. Building a coalition does not necessarily mean creating one huge meta organization. A coalition can be … Continue reading “Building Local Coalitions”

Small Accomplishments Are Important

“I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.” – Helen Keller You want to change the world. Your goal is transformative change around important, complex social problems like economic inequality, or human rights. Your line in the … Continue reading “Small Accomplishments Are Important”

Asset-Focused Leadership

“Every single person has capabilities, abilities and gifts. Living a good life depends on whether those capabilities can be used, abilities expressed and gifts given. If they are, the person will be valued, feel powerful and well-connected to the people around them. And the community around the person will be more powerful because of the … Continue reading “Asset-Focused Leadership”