World Premiere of "The Story of Change"
posted by: Publisher
Can shopping save the world? The Story of Change urges viewers to put down their credit cards and start exercising their citizen muscles to build a more sustainable, just and fulfilling world.
From the moment of birth, we're bombarded with messages that elevate the consumer part of our identity relative to all others, including our citizen-selves. While two year olds can articulate brand preferences and teenagers spend more time in malls than reading or exercising, about half of American adults don't bother to vote regularly in public elections and fewer than 15 percent have ever been to a public meeting.
Over the past several decades, many environmental and social change efforts have come to reflect this centrality of shopping in our culture, suggesting change can be made-or is even best made-through alterations in our individual consumption patterns. These efforts-buy Fair Trade or organic, use a reusable bag, screw in a CFL lightbulb-are a great place to start, but they are a terrible place to stop, ignoring the real source of our power: coming together as engaged citizens.
In The Story of Change, I argue that it's not bad shoppers who are putting our future at risk; it's bad policies and business practices. If we really want to change the world, we have to move beyond voting with our dollars and come together to demand rules that work.
In the movie, I take viewers through an inspiring exploration of what effective changemaking has looked like through history-from Gandhi in India and the anti-apartheid movement to the US Civil Rights movement and the environmental victories of the 1970s-and share the things you'll find whenever people get together and change the world: a big idea, a commitment to working together, and the ability to turn that shared goal and commitment into action.
I continue by arguing that these movements, like all successful change efforts, needed many different kinds of changemakers-investigators, communicators, builders, resisters, nurturers and networkers-each of whom plays a different but very important role in building and sustaining the movement. The movie ends with a question for the viewer: which are you?
As the movie closes, viewers will be prompted to take a quiz that helps them explore these changemaker identities, choose the one that fits them best and share the illustrated graphic and description via social media. Viewers will also be able to create and share their own action plan on a new sharing platform we're developing for the over 350,000 members of the Story of Stuff Project Community.
We'll be releasing The Story of Change in July 2012 and our goal is to reach at least 500,000 viewers over the year after its launch.
You can help us produce and distribute the movie by making a secure, online contribution today. Or you can visit storyofchange.org to sign-up for alerts about the release and share the movie with your network.
In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for The Story of Change!
And yet, these days, when we're faced with huge threats-from growing wealth inequality to disruption of the global climate-we seem to get stuck in small-bore solutions that fail to get to the root of these problems: an economy that puts short-term corporate profits ahead of everything else.
The fact is that many of us already share a Big Idea for a better world. Instead of a wasteful, growth-at-all-costs economy that fails both people and the planet, hundreds of millions of us want a new economy that puts safe products, a healthy environment, and happy people first.
Today, three-quarters of my fellow Americans support tougher laws on toxic chemicals and more than 80% want clean energy laws. 85% think corporations should have less influence in government and more than six in 10 Americans say the government should attempt to reduce the gap between the wealthy and less-well-off. Maybe that's why a 2011 Pew Research Center poll found 'progressive' to be the most positively viewed political label in America.
Now sure, we may not know exactly what a better future will look like - in many ways, we haven't invented it yet. But every day we're making remarkable advances in renewable energy and safer chemicals; more and more businesses are figuring out how to do well for themselves and their workers; and more and more citizens are standing up for themselves, and their neighbors, in their local communities and at the state and national level.
So, where are we headed? What's our destination?
Safe products. "Safe" goes beyond seatbelts and airbags (although they save thousands of lives a year). I mean products that don't trash the planet, the people who make them or the people who use them - products made without toxic chemicals, manufactured under safe and fair conditions, powered by clean energy, and that can be reused, repaired or recycled.
This may seem like a no brainer, but our economy has been headed in the opposite direction for decades now. And while there are great examples of companies both making products responsibly and making responsible products, the trend is still toward cheap products manufactured in ways that harm the people who make them and the planet. We can do better.
A healthy planet. Currently we're living as if we have more than one Earth - each year we use 1.5 times the resources our planet can produce and generate 1.5 times as much waste as the planet can assimilate. In How Much Is Enough? The Consumer Society and the Future of the Eart, Alan Durning says that in the last 75 years, Americans alone have used up more of the Earth's resources as all previous generations combined.To prevent further damage, we have to start living within our means.
Happier people. Stuff and happiness have an odd relationship. Up to a point, more Stuff does add to happiness. If you don't have a roof over your head and food on the table and some other basic necessities, more stuff can make you happier. But after a point, after our basic needs are met, it gets more complicated. At some point, the value added by more stuff is outweighed by the added costs - the sales price, maintenance, storing, upgrading, insuring - of all that Stuff.
We have more and cooler Stuff than our grandparents, but less of what really makes us happy: leisure time with friends and family, meaning and purpose in our lives, a sense of community and connection to society. More than 70 percent of Americans earning a median income or above say they would give up income in exchange for more time with family and friends. Imagine that!
Setting our GPS correctly - toward an economy that supports safe products, a healthy planet and happy people - is important because there are going to be lots of bends in the road to that future, and sometimes, the road itself may not be entirely clear.
But as Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase." We've got a pretty good idea where we're headed. For those of us committed to that more sustainable and just world, the trick is turning that sentiment into action - even before we know all the details of the journey ahead.
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