The Story of Change: Bringing Our Citizen Muscle to Creating a Better World

At the Institute for Humane Education, we often talk about the importance of working to change systems, as well as our own personal choices. One doesn't work without the other.

In the newest Story of Stuff video by Annie Leonard, The Story of Change, Annie emphasizes this dual importance, highlighting that, although "living green" is essential and necessary to creating a better world, it's not enough. She offers a great example, using Gandhi:
"As Gandhi said, 'be the change.' Living our values in small ways shows ourselves and others we care. So it is a great place to start. But it’s a terrible place to stop. After all, would we even know who Gandhi was if he just sewed his own clothes and then sat back waiting for the British to leave India?"

Annie's basic premise is this: "Real change happens when citizens come together to demand rules that work."

She discusses 3 elements that are needed for successful change:
  1. Big ideas.
  2. A commitment to work together.
  3. Taking action.
And she encourages people to plug in their passion and talents in whatever way best works for them.

She says:
"I know that changing a whole economic system is a huge challenge. It’s not easy to see a clear path from where we are today to where we need to go. And there’s no ten simple things we can do without leaving our couches! But the path didn’t start out clear to all these guys either. Doctor King said, 'Faith is taking the first step even though you don’t see the whole staircase.'

So, they worked hard to get organized, practiced the small acts that built their citizen muscles and kept their focus on their big idea – and when the time was right, they were ready. It’s time for us to get ready too – ready to make change and write the next chapter in the story of stuff."
The website offers a quiz so that we can find out what kind of changemakers we are (builders, networkers, communicators, etc.), as well as suggestions for more resources.

Although at its core, The Story of Change is just a cheerleading video, with no significant concrete steps for action, it's still a great discussion starter, and an important reminder that our citizenship can't stop at changing our lightbulbs, shopping at thrift stores, and growing some of our own food.

Watch the video:

~ Marsha

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