Social Change Now: A guide for reflection and connection (Deepa Iyer)

A commentary by Stefania Gualberti

To engage in social change at this moment in time requires consistent attention, deep reflection, and committed collective action.” (Deepa Iyer, )

In this guide Deepa Iyer offers a framework for social change. In a world that demands action and change we can easily burn out, feel numb and disconnected as our efforts never feel enough.

What if we could realize who we are, what role we play and what we can offer and connect to a social ecosystem to create effective and lasting change?

Are you a healer or a disrupter, a caregiver or a storyteller, a frontline responder or a visionary? These are some of the ten roles mapped out in this framework and Deepa maintains all are needed.

Frontline Responders: We address community crises by assembling and organizing resources, networks, and messages.

Visionaries: We imagine and generate our boldest possibilities, hopes, and dreams, and remind us of our direction.

Builders: We develop, organize, and implement ideas, practices, people, and resources in service to a collective vision.

Disrupters: We take uncomfortable and risky actions to shake up the status quo, to raise awareness, and to build power.

Caregivers: We nurture and nourish the people around us by creating and sustaining a community of care, joy, and connection.

Experimenters: We innovate, pioneer, and invent. We take risks and course correct as needed.

Weavers: We see the through-lines of connectivity between people, places, organizations, ideas, and movements.

Storytellers: We craft and share our community stories, cultures, experiences, histories, and possibilities through art, music, media, and movement.

Healers: We recognize and tend to the generational and current traumas caused by oppressive systems, institutions, policies, and practices.

Guides: We teach, counsel, and advise, using our gifts of well-earned discernment and wisdom.” (Page 42, Social Change Now : A guide for reflection and connection, Deepa Iyer).

People do not have to force themselves to change and be different, they are encouraged to operate from their resources and skills and to offer what they have in connection with others in the ecosystem.

An ecosystem is defined as “a community, a home, or a place and space where we feel a sense of belonging, familiarity, and alignment around our values, goals, and strategies for the future, and where we emphasize the importance of cultivating, nurturing, and sustaining relationships, connections, and solidarity.” (Page 24, Social Change Now: A guide for reflection and connection, Deepa Iyer).

According to Deepa Iyer coming together to do social change work in ecosystems, brings in accountability, collaboration, care and support.

I have loved this model when I encountered it through a study group organised by the healer and visionary Maggie McKeever across Ireland online as a response to the overwhelming nature of the recent actions in support of Palestine. It made sense to me as it is accepting, inviting, inspiring and hopeful in a time when we can feel the opposite.

We had the privilege to have Deepa Iyer at one of our fortnightly meetings.

She was reflecting on how we can’t all be frontliners and disrupters to get involved as for some people this leads to exhaustion and disengagement. Others gain energy and motivation and absolutely thrive in street actions. We can all support each other however and she mentioned the importance of healers and carers, who often are not considered in social change movements. She suggested that we could be part of different ecosystems and show up and take different roles in different groups, the key is to be aware and name it for yourself and others.

The other element I liked was the focus on body and energy. How is your response? How can you gather wisdom from your body cues (drained energy, burn out as well as empowerment and generating energy) and how can you take care of self and others?

Deepa Iyer encourages us to consider the bigger picture to make our work and involvement sustainable for the long term. Social change is not a short-term commitment. So, before you get tired, learn to connect.

l Workshop materials on group work and dynamics on the INNATE website can be found in the second section of ‘Workshops’ at