Small ways to make big change
It’s been nearly 3 months since the start of the George Floyd protests. Unsure what to do now? How to keep the momentum going? We’re right there with you!
In our last Her Flowers session, we talked about different ways for teens to mobilize their knowledge into action.
Instead of looking at ALL the things we should or could be doing, we decided to break our possible actions into categories and then come up with activities in each category. Sometimes breaking large problems down into smaller, and simpler actions makes all the difference!
It’s not possible to sustain change if you want to change EVERYTHING all on your own. Yes, you can be engaged and informed about what’s going on. But, that doesn’t mean you need to show up for all of it. Instead, pick one or two things that you feel passionate about. And then show up. Get excited. And keep showing up.
5 Strategies to Sustain Action:
LISTEN AND LEARN
What are the things you can watch, listen to, or read? This doesn’t mean read everything. Instead, pick 2-3 things and devote yourself to those. Perhaps you choose to watch one Ted Talk a week and then commit to discussing that Ted Talk with family members and friends. Maybe you repost that talk on your social media feed or send it out to your teachers. If you disagree with some of the points, start to understand why you disagree to build up your arguments and your vocabulary so you continue to learn and grow from the world around you. Below are some Ted Talks and books the Her Flower teens enjoyed.
The Danger of a Single Story, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You
Tik-toks: Defunding the Police
Created by Her Flower group members #forteensbyteens
As humans, we begin to understand and process the world around us through speech and dialogue. Having conversations, even if you mess up, helps you grow. Learn from others with different viewpoints than you and then share your viewpoints with others.
Talk with friends
Talk with family members
Repost important news on Instagram and engage in conversation. Don’t just block or unfollow those with different viewpoints. Instead, start conversations with them to understand their perspective and perhaps point them (gently) in a different direction.
This doesn’t mean host a 10,000 person protest in your town. This means organizing within your community, using the resources you already have to facilitate change.
Organize a fundraiser. Are you really good at making friendship bracelets? Or baking cookies? What about drawing? Get with a few friends and find a way to raise money for an organization you want to support. Try to include personalized notes of gratitude towards each sponsor. The most important thing here is the follow-through. Start small and acknowledge all that you’ve done before expanding out!
Think of both big and small ways you can support. This goes way beyond monetary support. You’ve been learning how to support others all your life. Be kind. Don’t judge. Accept apologies when necessary and realize that people make mistakes.
Help friends when they have questions
Don’t shame people for asking questions
Be the go-to person around these issues
You don’t have to be an expert on everything. You don’t have to know the in’s and out’s of misogyny, the death penalty, predatory military recruitment, cultural appropriation, climate change, mental health, and so on (phew, that’s a lot!). Sure, they all intersect and are connected, but learning a little bit about all of them will only overwhelm you instead of empowering you. So, pick one topic to dive deep in and follow that for 4-6 weeks. Here’s how:
Choose your news wisely -- make sure you’re getting news from a source you can trust and understand.
Follow accounts with good info on Instagram.
Keep an eye out for negative images, specifically how things are being told about a certain topic. If you’re comfortable approach those people that may be misinformed and explain to them how they’re spreading false information.
Keep track of petitions you can sign related to a certain issue. Spread those with your friends and monitor their progress.
Track legislation - Connect with your local politicians! Find out which elected officials are passionate about similar issues as you. Support their legislation and attempt to understand the intricacies of government.
Most importantly, give yourself space. Take time to take care of yourself and experience joy. The world is full of both beauty and pain, darkness and light. Be intentional with how you spend your time! These efforts need to be sustainable, and spending all your time connecting with the problems of the world will lead you to burn-out.
Remember, you’re only human.