Make reading your first step to creating authentic and effective social change.
by Portia Ladrido
From our interviews on INKLINE, we’ve found that most people who have started social, change-making organisations are those who have causes that hit close to home.
Yoocan, an online repository for people with disabilities, for example, started because of the founder’s nephew who was born with a rare disease which changed not just his nephew’s way of life but also theirs. Another example is One Day Seyoum, a movement that calls for the freedom of a journalist was created by the imprisoned journalist’s niece who is still fighting to liberate their homeland, Eritrea.
Truly, it is when we see that there are realities that need to be improved that we get a powerful urge to do something. Taking matters into your own hands, however, can also be daunting. Where do you start? What’s the goal? What strategy should you employ? Who should you work with?
Here we rounded up books that you might want to study to better equip yourself with the curve balls that come with trying to create authentic, impactful change.
1. How To Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs & the Power of New Ideas by David Bornstein
The author, David Bornstein, is the co-founder of Solutions Journalism Network, an organisation that advocates for the practice of solutions journalism. In this book, he profiles social activators across the globe who have implemented innovative solutions to community problems. It has been known to be the bible of social entrepreneurs as it details how business models can position themselves in a place where they are able to embolden the ‘weakest’ members of society.
“An idea is like a play. It needs a good producer and a good promoter even if it is a masterpiece. Otherwise the play may never open; or it may open but, for a lack of an audience, close after a week. Similarly, an idea will not move from the fringes to the mainstream simply because it is good; it must be skilfully marketed before it will actually shift people’s perceptions and behaviour.”
2. Rules for Revolutionaries: How Big Organizing Can Change Everything by Becky Bond and Zack Exley
Created by the team behind Bernie Sanders’ campaign, the book lists 22 rules that can serve as your guide to properly influence ideas and beliefs in the grassroots level. Bond and Exley are notorious for being ‘tech rebels’ in the political scene in the US, and their approach to politics and digital communication could inspire you to immediately roll up your sleeves, turn your megaphones on, and march your way to an unyielding revolution.
3. The Lifelong Activist: How to Change The World Without Losing Your Way by Hillary Rettig
When you get overwhelmed with the idealisms and expectations of change-making, it is helpful to steer clear of rose-coloured missions and highlight the practical ways you can use to change the world. Rettig’s piece features clear step-by-step instructions that could encourage you to lead a life of service whilst also pursuing passions and interests without guilt and shame. Divided into four sections, namely, Managing Your Vision, Managing Your Time, Managing Your Fears, and Managing Your Relationships, these will help you know how to integrate activism into your daily lives.
“This idea of work-as-play may be alien to us as serious activists. But your work should be play. Even your hardest work. Even your most serious activism. Play can, in fact, be an antidote to despair and burnout.”
4. Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities by Rebecca Solnit
With the onset of extremist groups and widening political divide, our world seems to be heading towards distressing times. This could make anyone feel disempowered and disillusioned, but Hope in the Dark can be that book that what will get you holding on to seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Solnit shares her own experiences with how small changes in minute communities could influence and inform those at the top, and she maintains that lasting change can come from our own individual contributions.
“Hope is not a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. It is an axe you break down doors with in an emergency. Hope should shove you out the door, because it will take everything you have to steer the future away from endless war, from the annihilation of the earth’s treasures and the grinding down of the poor and marginal… To hope is to give yourself to the future – and that commitment to the future is what makes the present inhabitable.”
5. Writing to Change the World by Mary Pipher
“Great stories happen to those who can tell them,” says author Ira Glass, and this concept of potent story-telling is what Mary Pipher presents in her book. Pipher doesn’t cover fluffy, emotionally charged writing, but practical, effective social change writing that has both soul and empirical value. With the use of writing to communicate your cause, this book will certainly usher you into powerfully connecting with your reader.
Portia Ladrido is a multimedia journalist specialising in countercultures and social justice. She has written for Radio Times, Because London, Very Nearly Almost, The Metropolist, and other independent publications. She’s usually looking for new exhibitions to visit, new social media trends to try, new books to read, and new gummy bear flavours to munch on until she falls asleep.