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What role were you born to play in social change? | Waging Nonviolence

About The Author

George Lakey co-founded Earth Quaker Action Group which just won its five-year campaign to force a major U.S. bank to give up financing mountaintop removal coal mining. Along with college teaching he has led 1,500 workshops on five continents and led activist projects on local, national, and international levels. Among many other books and articles, he is author of “Strategizing for a Living Revolution” in David Solnit’s book Globalize Liberation (City Lights, 2004). His first arrest was for a civil rights sit-in and most recent was with Earth Quaker Action Team while protesting mountain top removal coal mining.
Bill Moyer was a street-wise, working class white boy from rowhouse Philadelphia, who — in the turbulence of the 1960s — went to Chicago to work for an anti-racist housing campaign. He wound up joining Martin Luther King Jr.’s national staff as an organizer. I played tag football more than once with Moyer, catching his grin as he mercilessly overwhelmed his opponents through daring and smarts. He might have been the most joyfully aggressive Quaker I’ve known. By the time he died in 2002, Moyer had given significant leadership on multiple political issues, including the national anti-nuclear movement.

In California, Moyer went to graduate school to study social movement theory and indulge his love of analytical thinking. He became best known for identifying eight stages of successful social movements, which he named the Movement Action Plan, or MAP. I found activists using MAP as far away as Taiwan, where they had already read it in translation before I got there.

Moyer also invented a powerful tool that clarifies how we work for change on two levels: individually and organizationally. Four Roles of Social Activism, he called it, and right now the tool is helping environmentalist organizations in the Philadelphia area clarify their relationships to the new campaign Power Local Green Jobs. The tool also empowers individuals to become more effective. In this column I’ll describe the four roles so you can notice their resonance personally for you and also for your group.

Source: What role were you born to play in social change?

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