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Ideas on Entrepreneurship
April 4, 2019

How Small Daily Actions Contribute to Social Movements

With governments and institutions often unable to come together to build solutions, it's easy for individuals to feel powerless, and even paralyzed, in trying to push the needle toward a more equitable and sustainable world. However, our Fellows showcase every day the influence that individuals have in contributing to large-scale social change. They see opportunity in problems, create solutions that address the root cause of injustices, and leverage the power of collective optimism. 

In an effort to expand that power, Echoing Green, in partnership with WNYC’s The Greene Space, presented a four-part series called Change Every Day, in which Echoing Green Fellows discussed how they are effecting positive social change in their communities and beyond—and how anyone, anywhere can do the same. During the four conversations—Eat Your Values, Apps That Save Lives, Invest in Your Neighborhood, and Keep Building the Movement—Fellows shared the specific tactics of their work and how they are empowering others to take action. Led by host Shumita Basu, the discussions ranged from how individuals can contribute to a just food system to how people can spend their money to uplift communities rather than harm them.

Each conversation included a variety of tactics and examples to create, build, and sustain lasting movements. Read on for actionable steps anyone can take to help push social change every day.

1. Re-think your perspective.
"Think about your attitude towards food waste. If you see a banana peel or apple core, do you see it as just trash? ...Or do you see the value in it?...If you change your attitude to appreciate something then your behavior will have to follow."

How do you start making a change in your life? The first step is to change your attitude. During Eat Your Values, Jeffrey Neal, founder of Loop Closing, discussed the power of simply reframing your outlook. Beyond food waste and composting, making conscious adjustments to how you approach everyday tasks can be transformational.

2. Consider all of the implications when using tech for good.
"One of the things we think about a lot is, ‘When can technology be used to help a process, and who is at risk if the technology fails?'"

Swapna Reddy's background working in IT and AI gave her insights into the possibilities, both positive and negative, of leveraging technology to accomplish goals. During Apps That Save Lives, she explains that while technology has helped lift the burden of complicated processes and has connected people all over the world, it's important to consider how and, more importantly, to whom, new systems could do harm and take preventative measures.

3. Give small to make a big impact.
"A lot of people think that to be a philanthropist you have to be a millionaire. I want to make sure that we, in this generation, change that perspective."

According to Allen Woods, co-founder of MORTAR, volunteering or donating in small amounts regularly makes a big impact. During Invest in Your Neighborhood, Fellows shared many ways any one can support their community. From volunteering to seeking accelerators that support organizations founded by women and people of color, individuals can take charge and create change on many levels.

4. Take time to care for yourself and your movement.
"For some of our programs, we have discussions on, ‘What are those healing moments that we are going to integrate in this and not just have it be working sessions?’"

During Keep Building the Movement, Antionette Carroll, founder of Creative Reaction Lab, discussed steps she takes to ensure that she and her colleagues acknowledge lived trauma, and intentionally create space for healing in order to prevent burnout. Yeshimabeit Milner, co-founder of Data For Black Lives, also discussed the importance of being dedicated to your cause, but making sure you are healthy enough—both mentally and physically—to do your best work. No matter what you devote yourself to, it’s important to make sure you take the time to reflect and care for yourself.

 Visit our YouTube page to watch all four discussions and get inspired on ways to create change every day.

Echoing Green Fellows Swapna Reddy, Brandon Anderson, and Aziz Alghunaim in conversation with host Shumita Basu.