An Interview with the authors of Changemakers

by: Sara on 05/17/2018

The new book Changemakers: Embracing Hope, Taking Action, and Transforming the World by Fay Weller and Mary Wilson is the guidebook for ordinary people who want to create a new society now, rather than wait for a pie-in-the-sky future. Changemakers explores powerful stories of everyday people. Below is an interview with authors Fay Weller and Mary Wilson. The last question comes from our contest winner. Be sure to like us on Facebook and Instagram to keep up on our giveaways.

What is your favourite story from the book and why?

It’s really hard to pick a favourite! There are so many of stories… the Mud Girls, valuing childcare as highly as construction work… the restoration of the Mayne Island community garden… VanCity’s decades of social innovation… there are too many to pick! It’s easy to say why all these stories are favourites, though. Each one gives me a wonderful sense of being one person among many who are working to build a society that supports and sustains us all.

How can a person move from idea to action? Have you uncovered any specific steps or necessary characteristics that make this shift happen?

Yes, and the steps are simple if you have a small group of passionate people. The steps we uncovered through listening to the amazing people we interviewed are featured in the manual at the back of the book in a section entitled: “From Spark to Action”. The steps include finding others passionate about the idea, considering options – having fun with this, and developing a plan together, including research into how others have responded to a similar ‘spark’. We discovered that the characteristics of change makers include compassion, patience, inclusivity and a ‘just do it’ attitude.  

How would these ideas work outside the unique culture of the Gulf Islands? Do you have any tips for overcoming community apathy or even obstruction?

The Gulf Islands are pretty special! There’s a long tradition on the island of working together to get things done. But when looking around North America and further afield, that tradition is everywhere – in the global co-operative movement, in worker education and literacy movements, and in community gardens all over the place. None of these things happened without effort, and none of them happened without opposition.

Compassionate listening to others’ ideas can help to overcome opposition. Apathy is really sometimes a sense of powerlessness. Seeing others taking steps together and getting somewhere can help to overcome it. Finding ways to work together respectfully, and in a way that increases personal happiness, can really help with both – overcoming the “it’s too much work!” feeling that sometimes drives both apathy and opposition.

There are so many options, how can a person decide where and how to start?

The starting points are passion and need. If you are passionate about finding less carbon intense form of transportation then you are ready to start connecting with other like-minded people so that

Fay Weller

Author Fay Weller

options can be discussed and change can begin to happen. Same holds true if the passion/need is affordable housing or local organic food. The beautiful aspect of having so many options is that we do have options, and we can turn any one of them into reality.

What kind of change making keeps you feeling energized?

Fay Weller: I feel most energized when I see people respond positively to a change in which I have played a role. The Gertie bus is an example – when people talked about how thrilled they were  that they could shift to one car or no car, when people created songs about Gertie getting them around the island, when people in other communities, inspired by GERTIE, decide to start a bus in their small community then I feel both energized and hopeful for

Mary Wilson

Author Mary Wilson

the future of our planet.

Mary Wilson: Change is really satisfying and energizing when it contributes to the development of the community. Sometimes that is a practical thing, like building a community garden or creating a service that everyone can use. Sometimes it is less tangible — the development of sense that the community, working together, can really accomplish things.

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