The tools on this page support change-maker action.
They offer a practical foundation to help you direct your power - to resist what’s bad or create what’s better.
Free The Change’s view of social change is focussed on change-makers.
For us, you’re already a "change-maker" if you are anywhere along this four stage journey:
- I take some responsibility for how my world / community / workplace etc is...
- I have hope that it can be better, fairer, safer, kinder...
- I take action to try and change the status quo...
- I reflect on my action to understand more about the impact I'm having.
Effective social change can occur without people taking responsibility for a problem, or having hope, or even acting - but it's unusual, and fatalistic. Free The Change uses an Ownership - Hope - Action - Learning approach (see picture opposite/below), because we’re focussed on how change-makers can sustain an active commitment to “being the change they want to see” - over the long-term.
The 4 Dimensions of Change
Some of us are "all action". Others amazing at reflection. Some carry hope wherever they go. Still others: that powerful, even awesome sense of responsibility which fuels social change.
As change-makers, we need all four of these dimensions, and if we can attend to each of them in our own lives, that’s great. But it’s also rare, so it can be helpful to know where your own strengths lie, and then consciously draw on other people for theirs. At a societal level, this is one of the great things about social movements. At a group level: you might like to explore which dimensions exist in your group - and how they can support each other - using the exercise Personal Engagement Styles.
Free The Change meet-ups can also help you strengthen your own abilities in each of the different dimensions. So: before we offer Free The Change’s roadmap for action, here are a few of the ways that groups can explore the three other change-maker dimensions together: ownership (or responsibility), hope and learning. Without action, of course, they won’t change much. But if we don’t make time for them, our actions are less likely to be effective or fulfilling.
From climate change to community power, Free The Change's tools encourage participants to reflect on their personal and direct (rather than abstract or moral) relationships to the issues they care about. The Basic Group Framework routinely asks you to focus on how the systems you are part of (in community, workplace, society) are working for or against the greater good. And our conversation starters support you to explore your own role around specific topics - like gender inequality or money.
Free The Change's Inspiration tools can help you connect with the hidden power of social movements through the ages. As well as the films, podcasts, music and readings you'll find there, the Basic Framework for group meet-ups encourages groups to anchor every conversation in gratitude and celebration - embracing Gandhi's wisdom that "it's the action, not the fruit of the action, that's important". Other tools like "My Change-maker History" help you explore your own history of hope.
We all have an inner teacher, who - if asked good questions which are answered honestly - has an abundance of things to teach us. In particular, we know much more than we realise about (1) what's really going on in our lives and in the social systems we are part of, and (2) how we could change them - to create more of the common good in the world, for ourselves and others.
Free The Change is about small groups of change-makers routinely giving each other such opportunities to reflect. But specifically, we want you to review your practical actions and established habits - no matter their outcome. Research shows that the very best learning comes through concrete experience - not through well-meaning advice or abstract reflection. To learn, we must try things in the real world and then examine and celebrate them, with others. That way, bit by bit, we can make more and more effective change happen.
The following tools will help you individually or with a group to:
- get a better understanding of how social change can happen
- map some different dimensions of the issue you care about
- find your own "in", what's "yours to do", and start small
- detect, create and see past conflict
- work out where your biggest influence might be
- join forces effectively with other people, even your enemies
- understand your political rights and opportunities
- set a campaign strategy if you need to campaign
- tell a great story that motivates people to support you.
How to use the action toolkit
You really really don't need to use all the tools here to plan an action. If you did you'd never get started, especially if the "need" is for something more personal - for example, a change to your own behaviour. However, the tools below are set out in an order we generally find it most helpful to plan social actions. If the change you are seeking is particularly ambitious - or you are experiencing significant personal cost and want to review your course of action - consider using at least one tool from each of the chapters/sections below. We've starred those which have the most general value for most change-makers.
Using the toolkit with groupS
Within each section, the most helpful tools to explore with a group using Free The Change together have been tagged "For Groups".
Ready to start an action straight away? Dive into our Strategy Planning tool...