The most sweeping change can begin with the simplest connections.
On my bedside table sits This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein. Unfortunately, nothing seems to be changing at all—the book has been sitting there for 6 months unread. I feel quite guilty about it. Add it to the list of things I feel I need to do. I should spend more time with my children. I’m out of shape and should exercise more. I need to catch up with my friends. And since I started writing my book The Size of Others’ Burdens, I have done almost nothing to help others in my community. This is embarrassing. I’ve written a book that shows how we might move past our dilemmas and make a difference in our own neighborhoods and I’m stuck either in my house or the Ivory Tower. But I am caught up on Game of Thrones.
The kind of social growth that John Dewey and Robert Putnam wrote about is only possible through making reciprocal relations.
What is wrong with me? I (sadly) prove my own point made in The Size of Others’ Burdens. Many of us are stuck, not sure how to move forward in the face of so many demands made on us by society. We have good intentions but can’t turn them into action. Well, I’ve resolved that with the publication of my book, I need to make some sort of effort. What will I do? How might I take a series of somewhat general conclusions and imperatives from my book like “Don’t get comfortable!” and turn them into real action?
Sometimes you have to start small. Awhile back I created a book club at my local pub. Through word of mouth the club has grown to more than a dozen members, with most people coming from within a few blocks. By connecting with my neighbors I’m learning about my community. It feels good, with the club acting as a source of social sustenance.