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Learn About Your Issue | Meet Like-Minded People | Get Support and Attention | Take Action | What We're Reading

Below are some tools and tips that can help you bring about change from the bottom up. These resources are designed to help you meet others with similar concerns, raise awareness of your cause, and take meaningful action. We've also put together a list of top books that have inspired us along the way.


Learn About Your Issue

What's the issue that you're passionate about? To answer that question, one approach is to start with what's right around you, in your community, in the lives of your family and your neighbors. There's no shortage of important issues, and there are lots of resources: your public library, the local paper, neighbors, friends and colleagues that have been politically active. To get started, remember that the most important resource is yourself. You have the power to be part of the solution.

To see how folks in other communities have taken action, check out the Center for Democracy and Citizenship's blog.

Your America User's Guide
Read helpful tips and advice on how to make change happen. Download it (pdf)
It's important to learn about the linkages of your issue with national and global concerns. One starting point is NOW on PBS's topic tool. You'll find investigative resources and video reports on a wide-range of domestic and foreign issues.



Meet Like-Minded People

The first place to look for like-minded people for your issue is the circle of people that you already know. Family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and local elected officials are a starting point. There are also folks you meet at school, at church, and at local civic organizations. Local resources are a natural place to begin to grow your support. There are a lot of online resources to help you network and grow support.

You can use Activism Network to start a campaign, share contacts, event information, ideas, and build networks. Or you can join an existing campaign to learn about upcoming activist events, and let people find you.

ActionforChange.org is an initiative that connects students across the U.S. in support of civic engagement. It serves as a social network for activism, incorporating nonprofits, politicians, and people across the globe.

Conversation Café provides an open forum for people to meet and discuss important issues locally over a cup of coffee.



Get Support and Attention

Enterprising Ideas, the social entrepreneur-focused project of NOW on PBS, has an excellent page with ideas and useful information on publicizing your project.

Public Citizen
has a tool to help you find press contacts in your state.

The new social networking sites are helping some get the word out about their grassroots efforts. Techsoup, which offers technology advice for non-profits, offers help on how to use Facebook to promote your cause.

Results.org, a group that focuses on hunger, has put together a comprehensive media toolkit that can be used for all kinds of activism.



Take Action

Civic Practices Network's toolbox provides manuals and guides with a particular emphasis on community building.

Sometimes contacting elected officials can help. You can enter your zip code at Congress.org to find contact information for your representatives.

Everyday Democracy offers people ways to work together to solve problems in their communities. You can contact someone from Everyday Democracy to ask for advice and help.

They also have online guides for taking action and making change on a local level.

Some ideas need money. Grassroots Fundraising offers some basics on getting financing for your initiative.

Neighborhood Link provides community organizations with their own free, interactive website. You can search their database to find neighborhood associations and other organizations in your community.

Whistleblowers.org has a blog devoted to whistleblower FAQs
as well as information on employee protections.

Tell us what you're doing! Share you thoughts, ideas, challenges with the Your America community



What We're Reading

Building Powerful Community Organizations: A Personal Guide To Creating Groups That Can Solve Problems and Change the World, by Michael Jacoby Brown

Brown's book is for individuals who want to start, strengthen, or revitalize a group that addresses a community issue. It includes a series of practical steps that help build a successful community organization and how to turn a passion into a powerful tool for social change.

Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement In The World Came Into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming, by Paul Hawken

Hawken traces the environmental and social justice movement in an inspiring book that lays out how many thousands (if not millions) of nonprofits and community groups dedicated to their cause collectively formed a worldwide movement geared toward improving humanity.

Getting A Grip: Clarity, Creativity and Courage in a World Gone Mad, by Frances Moore Lappé

Lappé shows us how we can create a values-guided, empowering democracy where individuals and communities take charge of public life and engage in active listening, conflict mediation, dialogue and judgment.

Stir It Up: Lessons in Community Organizing and Advocacy, by Rinku Sen

In this groundbreaking book, Rinku Sen identifies concrete guidelines and strategies that can help advance the mission of any social change group.

The Citizen Solution: How You Can Make a Difference, by Harry C. Boyte

Boyte's book is a hands-on guide to effecting change in America by taking action locally.
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