What would you ask one million people to do to change the world? Our initial research when establishing We Are What We Do – the social movement encouraging people to use their everyday actions to change the world taught us that, remarkably, the most personal were the most popular – smile more, talk on the bus, but the range and creativity was extraordinary – register online as an organ donor, find out how your pension is invested, have more meals together and write to someone who inspired you.
The actions we identified were collated and presented in two books which have sold more than one million copies and led to a range of other products including materials for schools. Between now and the middle of December we are seeking the next generation of simple, small actions that have the power to bring about big change and are asking everyone under 18: “What simple action would you ask one million people to do to change the world?”.
Early responses are heartening young people have lots of brilliant ideas for things we can do – some of them hilarious, some of them controversial, some incredibly moving and some of them just plain good sense. We know that they care about a wide range of issues – the environment, domestic violence, gun crime, culture, poverty – you name it, most kids have not only a view, but a really refreshing “take” on how we approach it. For all the demonising of young people as binge-drinking hoodie thugs, youthful enthusiasm and a passion for social justice are alive and well.
We Are What We Do is showcasing on our website small actions that have a positive impact on our communities, families, the environment and the world at large. We feature them on a map for all to see and the top ideas will be included in the next edition of the Change the World series. The very best action will be part of a huge campaign in Spring 2008 that aims to inspire one million people to take part in the action and have a gigantic impact.
There can be little better inspiration for young people than Anne Frank who reminds us “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
David Robinson is a co-founder of Community Links which tackles social exclusion in east London. He is the originator of We Are What We Do, the movement which inspires people to use their every day actions to change the world. In July 2007 he was appointed to lead the prime minister’s new Council on Social Action.