Be a Changemaker

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Posted: November 1, 2010

Last week, while touring a farm with a small group of first year college students, we discussed the frustration of being away from home for the first time, only to be thrust in what feels like a system that doesn’t allow for change and growth. The particular target of this frustration was school food. Not one of them liked it and felt helpless to do anything about it.

Picking our way around the jutting rocks on the farm’s back road, I felt compelled to assure them that they did have a voice.They had such untapped power, they had only to wield it! But how? How do you stand up for yourself? How do you stand up for your beliefs? Your community? It’s more than just making noise and dumping your opinions…How do you make change?

As a part of an organization that treasures the value in collaboration, education, and community building, I’ve had a front row seat in the figurative classroom of “how to make change”. Over the years, involved in a movement that is intent on being a part of the solution rather than the problem, you find that change can be a slow, plodding process or it can be so quick –and forgive my surfer reference– that you feel you’ve been through the rinse cycle of a big wave, paddling in the direction that you hope is the surface.

So how do we go about change that is effective? How do we move forward and towards the surface?

  1. Question authority, then question yourself. Be a skeptic.
  2. Understand your opinion by understanding the differing opinions of others. Practice critical thinking.
  3. Offer solutions, not just “constructive critisicm”. Self righteousness should be avoided.
  4. Be thoughtful. Be organized. Be respectful. Do not waste another person’s time.
  5. Allow others to speak and then listen actively.
  6. Read and understand the issues. Talk to people you trust and then talk to those you don’t.
  7. Vote.

We are all Changemakers. Your age, your gender, your socio-economic status, your ethnicity…it doesn’t matter. You have a voice. Speak up as an individual or speak up as a group, but speak up.

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