Everyday, everywhere, through spontaneous and planned actions, people are changing the world, together. These everyday actions come from the growing desire to do it ourselves – plant vegetables, organise a community day to get people involved in improving where we live, expose exploitative firms, take responsibility for our health, make cups of tea in a social centre, figure out how to install a shower powered by the sun, make a banner, support strikers, pull a prank to make someone laugh, as well as think.
This book is a call to get involved in practical action and reflection to create more sustainable and fairer ways of living. Part handbook, part critique, it is designed to inform, inspire and enable people – you, the person sitting next to you on the train, your neighbour, your mother, your children – to take part in a growing movement for social change. It is us that can make the changes and it is us that will have to. We believe that this social change is best understood through experiences and real human stories, not abstract ideas. Nine different themes are explored in this book where people are struggling to wrestle back control and build more equitable and just societies – sustainable living, decision making, health, education, food, cultural activism, free spaces, media and direct action.
This is not a book about a grand unfolding of a new theory on social change or a way to sign up to membership of a political party or campaign group – ‘Give us £10 and we’ll save the world for you’. It is not a restatement of what is wrong with the world (there are many fantastic books out there that do that already) or about the need to overthrow governments or take the reigns of political power. It’s about what we can all do about the challenges we face in the world and how we can make governments and corporations increasingly irrelevant.
Although there is a sense of urgency about what we are saying, there are huge challenges that stand in the way of empowering people to take control collectively. The process won’t necessarily be easy and this book does not intend to glamorise what the editors and contributors know can be very hard work. While the book talks about the urgent need for change there are a number of tensions to deal with in making these ideas more accessible and less intimidating to people. There are also many competing voices and visions in the struggle for a better world. Stating the case for managing our own world collectively is difficult as many people ask why they should get involved when there are paid politicians to do so. Not only have people deferred responsibility to leaders and bosses but they are mostly distracted by getting on with their lives, by consumerism, celebrities and the humdrum of daily life.
In response, this book has no easy answers but starts from a premise that there is a growing awareness that change is needed and that the way to make it relevant is by mixing resistance and creativity in to a powerful movement that is part of everyday life. As mass protests against the current economic system have ricocheted around the world from Seattle to Cancun, beyond the spectacle of the banners, tear gas and riots, when the streets become silent again, ordinary people are doing extraordinary things, learning by doing, imagining and building the blocks of other possible worlds. We can resist the world we live in while at the same time creating the world we want to see. These small acts are the bedrock for real social transformation – as the phrase goes ‘be the change you want to see’. They are the starting points for bringing us together to build our lives outside the logic of capitalism.
To continue reading this introduction, download the attached PDF.
Originally published on the Trapese Popular Education Collective's website: http://trapese.clearerchannel.org/resources.php