Creating a Different Future: Changing the World Through Community
In 2008, Linda Stout was planning her book, Collective Visioning. She saw a society driven by fear, disconnection and confronted with seemingly insurmountable problems: global warming, war, violence and a growing disparity between rich and poor. “The current popularity of many bestselling self-help books,” she mused, “reflects a population hungry for community, hope and positive vision.” Yet, she found the proposed solutions in these books – personal growth, coping with stress, earning more money, “getting yours” – moved people to an even more isolated, individualistic and materialistic place. Let us recommit to working together.
Creating a Different Future: changing the world through community
Many people “turn off and tune out” because they feel helpless to do anything about changing the world. I believe people’s inability to act has to do with feeling overwhelmed and helpless to do anything about the issues facing them. Those who do try to do something don’t always know how to make change, usually focusing on doing small “individual” things: carrying a cloth bag to the grocery store, conservation and recycling efforts, and helping someone less fortunate.
There are many barriers that stand in the way of our working collectively. People’s fears – global warming, terrorist attacks, losing their identity, police brutality – are among them. Often people think being part of a broad community or of joining social change groups as “having to give up something.” And while some of us have learned to be part of a community – for those of us lucky enough to experience community through our families, our neighborhood, church or other social groups – most of us have not learned to be part of the very diverse community and country that we now live in.
But working collectively can produce major changes and create a different future. Let us begin with a vision for what is possible, identifying sparks throughout the country of things already happening, so we can then move to a place of understanding how change happens. Let us share our identities with each other to build trust, and use our own stories to show how visioning, community building, and collective action can move us toward real and sustainable change.
Working in community brings a deep feeling of connection and kinship, of love for yourself and others – and a joy that feeds the soul.