Would you be a more effective agent for social, economic or political change if you could see the progress we're all making as a movement?
That's a theme that has popped up for me repeatedly in recent months, including at Web of Change. Whether you're wondering if it's worthwhile to leave your car at home when so many others are driving theirs, or struggling to keep up morale in your issue-driven nonprofit, sometimes the whole job of social change feels like one big collective action problem. How much energy should I invest in change if others aren't also investing their time and energy in change? How much is our effort worth, anyhow? Are we really making a difference?
The truth is, none of us are alone — not even a little. For proof, you need look no further than a site like Wiser Earth, which offers a window on tens of thousands of social movements around the world.
But it can be hard to stay connected to that larger movement, to notice that your work is supported and amplified by millions of other people working towards the same transformation, and to appreciate the changes we're effecting every day. It can take a big event or milestone to remind us that we're making progress — for me, the recent wedding of two of our dearest friends, a gay couple, was a reminder that yes! change is possible.
What can we do in between those milestones to track our progress, boost our morale, build community, and celebrate our successes? In this as in all things, Facebook may have an answer. The fabulous Jon Stahl shared a practice in place at ONE/Northwest, where team members often end their day by e-mailing each other a list of the tasks or accomplishments they completed that day. Quite apart from its team building value, this practice struck me as a great way of noting and appreciating the small steps we're making towards change.
But you don't need a team practice — or a battleship appearance — to declare "mission accomplished". Many of us are posting daily, hourly or minute-by-minute snapshots of our activities via Facebook status updates or Twitter. These status updates could be a great way for us to share the small steps we're all taking to strengthen our communities, reduce our personal environmental footprints, increase issue awareness, support people in need, empower and mobilize marginalized communities, support social justice — all the many many things people in non-profits, activist groups, government agencies, social enterprises and multinational corporations are doing to move us towards a world that is socially, environmentally and personally sustainable.
I would love to know what my Facebook and Twitter friends and buddies are doing every day or every hour to move things forward. Maybe you've just covered your neighbourhood with posters for an upcoming rally, maybe you just designed the logo for a new non-profit, maybe you had a meeting with one great insight into how the climate change movement can mobilize more support among retirees. Whatever it is, big or small, put it in your update! And don't be shy about blowing your own horn — that's the point. Your success may be just the encouragement that someone else needs to keep going.
I posted my first "change status" just a few minutes ago. Here's what it said:
Alexandra is happy with the excruciatingly detailed tech requirements she's drafted for a wonderful new social networking community for vulnerable people.
OK, so tech requirements aren't as sexy as rioting in the streets, but that's what I did with my weekend and hey, I really do think it's a small building block towards the right big picture.
What did you do today that moved your work, your organization, your issue or your personal practice forward? Post it to your Facebook or Twitter status. And don't forget to friend me on Facebook or buddy me on Twitter so that I can hear about it.