You Don’t Need to Start Another Movement

The question I get asked most often is, “How do you start a movement?”

My answer is always, “You don’t need to start another movement. All you have to do is contribute to the movements that you are already part of.”

In order to do so you have to let go of your belief that your idea, your program, your innovation is the one that other players should rally around.

A movement isn’t a marketing tool. It’s the antidote to “old habits die hard.” It prepares the ground for new and different ways of thinking and acting. It creates cultural receptivity and popular support for new approaches. It makes it easier for a host of innovations with similar objectives to stick, to thrive and to have lasting impact. Including yours.

The work nowadays is less about perfecting or scaling your own work and more about completing your work through the work of others. If a new movement is needed it will emerge through those interactions.

If you want to take your movement responsibilities seriously:

  • Make a list of the players in the movement(s) you belong to.
  • Identify those whose values and actions you would like to align with because you can’t work with everyone.
  • Link up and connect the dots.

When you do you will be pleasantly surprised. Your specific work will be enhanced. So will the culture.

Movements are a powerful response to the corporate, technological, militaristic and ideological forces that are harmful to life. Your movement(s) are already in motion transforming culture. They would benefit from your peaceful presence and wholehearted participation.


Reposted with permission from Home page image: Marc Fallardeau

About the Lead Author

Al Etmanski
Al Etmanski
Al Etmanski is a community organizer, social entrepreneur and author. ( (@aletmanski ) His latest books are Impact: Six Patterns to Spread Your Social Innovation and The Power of Disability: 10 Lessons for Surviving, Thriving and Changing the World. He is a faculty member of the Asset Based Community Development Institute (ABCD), an Ashoka fellow, senior fellow Social Innovation Generation and Co-Chair of BC Partners for Social Impact. Al is co-founder of Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN), a family run social enterprise assisting families address the financial and social well-being of their relative with a disability, particularly after their parents die. He proposed and led the successful campaign to establish the world’s first savings plan for people with disabilities, the Registered Disability Savings Plan. John McKnight endorsed Al's book Impact by saying: Impact is a chronicle of the wisdom Etmanski has gained in exploring the keys to long-term social change. His findings lead us out of the past and onto a pathway for progress in the 21st century. Once describing Al as an Abundant Community Pioneer, Peter Block wrote: Al Etmanski is one of North America's best social inventors. He has looked beyond traditional institituions and their failures to create new means of achieving a better life. His analysis of the forms of organization that enable local communities while avoiding rigid hierarchies is groundbreaking. His book A Good Life is a wonderful and practical guide to the potential for neighbors to grow strong through the power of hospitality. Michael J. Fox said of Al's latest book, The Power of Disability: This book reminds us of what we have in common: the power to create a good life for ourselves and for others, no matter what the world has in store for us.

The Latest

Unlocking Community Ownership in Ft. Wayne, IN

When neighbors are at the center of generating ideas and creating their visions, local resources, gifts and talents can...


More Articles Like This