This week I’ve got a new post up on SSIR, the first in a series on the ‘five levers of social change.’ The basic idea is that we’ve broken down the process of larger social change into five basic “levers,” or strategies, that any business or nonprofit can use. By breaking this abstract goal into smaller, manageable, and realistic goals and accomplishments, we hope to make it more accessible, more clear, and inspiring. The five levers are: Bright Spots, Data & Insights, Policy Shifts, Public Perception, and Disruptive Technology. In the first post in the series , we examine Bright Spots, using the example of Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard as the primary example. Do you agree these are the levers we use to make social change? Read on to see:
Five Levers for Social Change: Part 1
Your organization probably has the core competencies to accomplish meaningful change; the hardest part is identifying the appropriate strategy and resources to get the job done. Here at Taproot, we’ve found it easier to break down the process of larger social change into five basic “levers,” or strategies, that any business or nonprofit can use. By parsing goals into smaller, manageable, and realistic parts, and by focusing on near-term accomplishments rather than long-term solutions, achieving enduring and effective social change is possible.
Looking across the world of philanthropy and social activism, we can see how these levers have been instrumental in sparking enduring and transformative change. Over a series of posts, I’ll describe each lever and share examples of organizations that have benefited from employing it.
First up: bright spots.
In 1994, Alice Waters, a chef at Chez Panisse in the San Francisco Bay Area, sat down with the principal of the nearby Martin Luther King Jr. middle school and pitched a modest but innovative idea—take an unused plot of land in the back of the school and turn it into a garden for students.