I spent several years occasionally wondering about strategy. How do we get from here to there? I hadn’t heard any compelling strategies on the Left or from the New Age folks. Unlike analysis or vision, it seemed a mystery to me.
I first started looking at this in this blog, back at the beginning of my blog with a post on Creating Social Change (7/2/08). Here I looked at analysis, vision, and strategy and related strategy to the motto: “Agitate, educate, organize.” I pointed out that the Left had been pretty good with the agitating but hadn’t done so well with the educating and organizing and began exploring possibilities around this.
Later, in my post on The Great Turning (11/15/09), I pointed out Joanna Macy’s Three Dimensions of the Great Turning: "1. Actions to slow the damage to Earth and its beings; 2. Analysis of structural causes and the creation of structural alternatives; and 3. A Shift in Consciousness." I connected it with the ‘agitate, educate, organize’ slogan. As I said then: “I related the 'Actions to slow damage' to Agitating, the 'creation of structural alternatives' to Organizing, and the 'Shift in Consciousness' to Educating.”
Joanna Macy’s message is that we need to do all three of these and each of them supports the others. When I talked about this with Gil, an organizer that I work with in the Point A project, he came up with the idea of abbreviating this strategy as ACT: Agitation (or activism), Creation, and Teaching. He pointed out that we have been doing all three in Point A: we have an activist within the group doing anti-gentrification work, Gil and I (and others) have been working to create a new community, and, periodically, a group comes up from Virginia to do educational work--doing workshops to teach folks about living communally. (For more on Point A, see my post entitled Point A, 1/31/15.)
This is why I personally see my work with creating new communities as social change work. I’ve twice mentioned that I see intentional communities as laboratories for social change (in my posts called Beginning Again, 12/21/12, and Old 400th, 3/1/15). My belief is that we can try things out in communities and find out what works and what doesn’t. The working communities can be models for the world we want to build. In the ACT model, this is only one step in the process. There also needs to be agitations and actions to hold back all the horrendous things that are happening, to allow us the time to find out what works, and as we do find out what works, we need to be able to spread the word through teaching and education.
It’s not easy, but this is the best social change thinking that I’ve been able to come up with. And, while I haven’t done a lot of agitation/activism, I am grateful for those who do, and I realize that I am not only doing community creation work, but some educational/teaching work as well, both through this blog and through my constant conversations with folks about community and particularly communities as social change laboratories.
What is the social change work that you do?
Quote of the Day: “...look at how this Great Turning is gaining momentum today, through the choices of countless individuals and groups. We can see that it’s happening simultaneously in three areas or dimensions that are mutually reinforcing. These are: 1) actions to slow the damage to Earth and its beings; 2) analysis of structural causes and creation of structural alternatives; and 3) a fundamental shift in worldview and values. Many of us are engaged in all three, each of which is necessary to the creation of a sustainable civilization.” - Joanna Macy