Summer SAVY 2016 (Session 3, Day 3) – Fantasies of Change
What makes a change agent? That’s the question we sought to answer today by looking inward, thinking about – and sharing – how we have become people who care enough about a cause to try to change the world. Our sense that something is wrong and our belief that we can do something about it don’t emerge from nowhere. Instead, our personal attributes, values, beliefs, and experiences all come together to inform the choice we make to become a change agent. We crystallized these elements into a Story of Self, a story that demonstrates our commitment to the cause and reveals the values that motivate us to care and work for change. This potent collective action tool reminds us that everyone has a story, and it’s through stories that we find connection with others and bring them alongside us in our work.
Having told our stories and identified the personal values that motivated our choice of collective action group, we then added to our final portfolio by developing a list of the Collective Values shared by the members of the group. These values provide a foundation for the tactics that we choose and connect our group with those who share them, allowing the collective action to grow. Our final activity before lunch was watching a video about Workers’ Dignity, a Nashville organization that fights for equitable treatment of workers in the city. Its focus is always standing alongside worker, providing training and leadership opportunities so that the worker might, in turn, stand alongside the next worker to join the group and need solidarity. Leadership development is a key part of building a collective action.
After lunch, we turned our attention to power, particularly distinguishing between power-over and power-with. Power-over describes coercive power, power that threatens or uses force and might to accomplish its aims, as well as hierarchical power. Power-with, on the other hand, joins people together, bringing the different resources they possess into common strength. This relational form of power is what collective action groups understand as vital in achieving their goals. But in order to have power, we must have resources, and so the bulk of our afternoon was spent with each collective action group developing its resource chart: what natural and acquired resources do we have? What resources do we need in order to accomplish our goals? Each group began to develop its list, a vital step in planning for collective change.
We closed our day by considering the lessons about power, values, and resources found in Mockingjay, the final Hunger Games novel. Tomorrow we’ll think about framing – how do we communicate about our collective action so that it resonates with the values and beliefs of others, gaining their support? – and tactics, particularly nonviolent civil disobedience.