Movement building means working on the collective processes and infrastructure that create shared vision, strategy, and action across different areas of social, economic, and ecological justice. 

When we think about the word movement, what images come to mind? The US civil rights march on Washington, that ended with Martin Luther King, Jr. giving his “I have a dream…” speech; Germans from east and west climbing up and pulling down the Berlin wall; Gandhi, in his white robes, marching with hundreds of thousands of working class people across India; Nelson Mandela speaking to hundreds of thousands after his release from imprisonment on Robben Island.

The great thing about imaging those great leaders and campaigns of the past is that we can learn from them. By studying and understanding the past, we are better able to imagine a vision for the future and inspire others to find their roles in creating this future. 

Inspiring a shared vision helps people see a deeper meaning in their social justice work and to join together for that common cause – instead of feeling as if they are performing routine tasks that don’t contribute to the bigger picture of social change. 

Inspiring a shared vision for a social change outcomes gives up something to look to, it gives us hope, and makes it feel urgent. Inspiring a shared vision brings people along for the social change ride, making it more sustainable and likely to bring about the change you are seeking. 

There are two basic aspects of how leaders can Inspire a Shared Vision:

  • Define your vision of future: Achieve clarity around your ideal future so you can better explain it to others
  • Bring others along by working toward a shared vision: Understand others’ aspirations for the future and how enlisting in your vision can help them achieve those aspirations

That is not to say that envisioning a future is the be all and end all of social change – there is lots of hard work and strategy involved, but if we are out there working hard for a better world, you are not going to develop a broad based movement of people committed to the cause by asking, ‘I’d like you to join me in doing things a little better?’ 

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