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The Creative Activist Toolkit


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Want to change the world but not sure where to begin? This simple guide - The Creative Activist Toolkit - takes you step-by-step through the beginning stages of social innovation and helps you avoid common mistakes. (We will enable downloading when toolkit is finalized - sometime in May 2011.)

Published in: Technology, Self Improvement

The Creative Activist Toolkit

  2. 1 Dan eldon never set out to be a leader. He was just a regular teenager who happened to love photography and art. He also loved to go on safaris in his adopted homeland of Kenya. INTRODUCTION 1
  3. His mission: “To explore the unknown and the familiar, distant and near, and to record in details with the eyes of a child, any beauty, horror, irony, traces of utopia or Hell.” On his journeys across Africa, he learned to see the world as it really is. 2
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  5. Along the way, he realized he could use creativity to do much more - to change lives and change the world. E For a Kenyan girl, he raised money to pay for her heart surgery. E For refugees in Malawi, he brought blankets and $17,000 in aid. E For famine-stricken Somalia, he used his photographs to get the world to care. Inspired, he took action and created impact. Dan turned imagination into art, reality into photography. 4
  6. This guide is for all who are inspired by Dan and other Creative Activists, Changemakers, Social Entrepreneurs, and Visionaries. It takes you step-by-step through the process of turning INSPIRATION into ACTION so that the world can be a better place because of you. Of course, we can’t teach you everything you need to know. But this road map will get you off to a good start. Change begins and ends with passionate individuals. Like Dan. We call them Creative Activists. 5
  7. INSPIRATION1. What fuels creative activism? In the beginning, it’s always INSPIRATION. Creative Activists are always inspired by someone or something that calls them to do more and be more. LISTEN TO THAT CALLING. THERE’S A REASON IT SPEAKS TO YOU. 6
  8. inspiration can come from many sources E Your personal experience with an issue. E An injustice you’ve seen or learned about. E Someone you respect has called you to action. E Your concerns about the future of our planet. E Your desire for a better world. 7
  9. Excessive use of plastic bags. Cruelty towards animals you eat. High drop-out rate at your high school. EXAMPLE JJWrite Down three issues or problems that you feel connected to:  Issue  1      Issue  2    Issue  3   v Don’t worry about how much you know or don’t know about each issue. v Don’t focus too quickly on one issue. Keep your mind open for now. Entertain three issues. v Do focus on issues that have personally affected you - either directly or indirectly. TIPSTIPS 8
  10. Now that you’ve identified issues that speak to you in some way, get to know each of them better. Read up on each issue and talk to as many people as you can about them. Take time to explore. As Dan liked to say, “There  is  little   difference  between  being  lost  and  exploring.”  Let your mind wander. Enjoy the detours. SPEND TIME ON THIS STEP. EXPLORATION2. 9
  11. 1) What is the root cause of the problem? In other words, try to complete the sentence: “The  problem  of  X  would  not  exist  if  ______________________________.” 2)Who do you need to help or benefit to make things better? 3) How do they need to be better off? What benefits do they need? The  problem  of  factory  farms  would  not  exist   if  we  consumers  made  compassionate  choices  and   bought  more  humane  products. EXAMPLE JJWhen you feel you have a good grasp of the issues, try to answer three questions for each: 10
  12.  Issue  1   Issue  2   Issue  3   Root Cause BEneficiaries Benefits issue: Too much plastic waste Root cause: People buy too many bottled drinks Beneficiaries: Help everyone at school buy fewer bottled drinks Benefits: Provide convenient and stylish water bottles EXAMPLE 11
  13. v Run your answers by potential beneficiaries and people you consider to be experts. But don’t just talk to one. v To address a problem, you may need to benefit different sets of people but pick one group for each for now. v Use Root Cause Analysis and Make It Count toolkits if you want to gain a deeper understanding of root causes and outcomes. See page 30. TIPSTIPS Additional  Notes: 12
  14. Now that you have a better sense of what benefits you need to provide to whom to solve a problem, the fun part begins. It’s time to brainstorm what YOU can do. IMAGINATION3. Ask  yourself...What  can  you  do  with   what  you  have  where  you  are? 13
  15. x What you have includes: People you know who can support you. The skills you and your supporters have. The organizations, including businesses, you’re connected to. The networks of people you can access - both personal and professional. JJList the resources you have under each column. People: SKILLS: ORGANIZATIONS: NETWORKS: 14
  16. Benefit: Provide convenient and stylish water bottles. Solution: Sell limited edition water bottles with custom artwork, school logo and mascot and raise money for a good cause. Get local businesses to sponsor you and subsidize cost. EXAMPLE JJStart combining different resources and see if any solutions Come to mind. What could deliver the benefits you think are needed?  (from  step  2) Solutions TIPSTIPS v Think less about what “the” solution should be and more about what “your” solution could be. v Use Tao of MacGyver toolkit to identify resources. See page 30. v Perform this step with teammates or people who will likely support you. 15
  17. You now have three possible solutions you can implement. Which one should you move forward with? Chances are, your gut instinct points you to one above the rest. Perhaps it’s more creative, easier to pull off, or maybe it has greater potential for impact. Whatever the reason, your gut instinct is probably right. But you may want to poll others to see what they think. Give them your three choices. Ask them to vote. SOLUTION4. Additional  Notes: 16
  18. Name:     Tagline:   JJ When you have decided on the solution to move forward with, give it a name and a tagline, a short phrase that tells people what it’s about. JJCreate an imaginary billboard for it. It helps you visualize your solution from other people’s perspective. Write name and tagline on the billboard and sketch an image (it can be rough) EXAMPLE v Your billboard should emphasize the positive rather than the negative, the solution rather than the problem. Make it upbeat, not depressing. v Give your solution a catchy name. Both the name and tagline should be memorable. v Use Project Profile toolkit to create a video about your project that you can spread online. See page 30. TIPSTIPS 17
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  20. Look  for  solutions,  not     problems.  Seek  clarity  of  vision.
  21. ACTION5. Every solution assumes that if you take certain actions, you will arrive at the results you want. Action1 + Action2 + Action3 = RESULTS Example: Get  water  bottles  made  +  Run  contest  to  sell  bottles  +  Get  popular   classmates  to  promote  bottles  =  2,000  Bottles  Sold Write out your formula for change. In other words, map out your journey. What actions will you need to take to achieve your results? 20
  22. water  botTleS contest endorsements 2,000  bottles  sold JJCome up with at least two formulas and allow yourself to experiment with both. Ideally, you want to find an action plan that is repeatable and scalable. The more you execute the plan, the more results you get. If that’s the case, it means you know what you’re doing. Put both of these plans into motion and see which one is more effective. Plan  A: Plan  B:   21
  23. v Don’t lock yourself into one way of doing something. Allow experimentation. .v Luck and chance are important but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to figure out a reliable process. v Action always requires involvement of others. Don’t plan or implement actions by yourself. TIPSTIPS Additional  Notes: 22
  24. So where is all this headed, really? What is the ultimate destination of your journey? You want to make sure that when all is said and done, you have made an impact. Don’t focus on what you do - number of screenings, page views, DVDs sold, funds raised, etc. Focus on how much better off your beneficiaries are. (Remember the benefits you identified in Step 2?) DESTINATION6. 23
  25. The question you want to answer, at the very end, is “How are people better off?” or “How is the environment better off?” E Do people have more knowledge, skills, income, better health, etc.? Do they take positive action for themselves? E Is the environment cleaner, less polluted, more biologically diverse, etc.? Additional  Notes: 24
  26. Metric  1                                    Metric  2                      Metric  3 JJ COme up with 2 or 3 ways you can measure how Things are better off. # bottles sold % buyers who use reusable bottles every day % buyers who have reduced purchase of bottled drinks # plastic bottles avoided per week (you will need to collect emails to do follow-up surveys) EXAMPLE v If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. .v Make sure your team agrees on how to measure success. v Use Make It Count toolkit to develop your outcome metrics. See page 30. TIPSTIPS These are the ultimate measures of your success, your ultimate destination. Let them guide your actions. If you’re not seeing the results you want, modify your action plans in STEP 5. 25
  27. 7. Just as you were inspired to take action, you can inspire others to take action as well. Let your story be an inspiration to others. k KEEP A “TRAVELOGUE.” Blog about what you do or create short videos about the actions you take. k CREATE A SHORT DOCUMENTARY ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY. That means you need to document your project from beginning to end. k TELL YOUR STORY OFTEN. k TEACH OTHERS HOW TO ACHIEVE SIMILAR SUCCESS. This is how you can multiply your impact. INSPIRATION 26
  28. AS DAN USED TO SAY,   DO IT ALL AGAIN! GEAR UP FOR THE NEXT JOURNEY! “The  journey  is  the  destination.” v Use Message with SUCCESs toolkit to craft your inspirational story. See page 30. .v Watch some TED Talks to see what inspirational stories look and sound like. v Give your own TEDx Talk. Use guide at TIPSTIPS 27
  29. There  is  little  difference  between     being  lost  and  exploring.    —Dan  Eldon
  30. b You have selected your team with care. b You are working on an issue that personally affects you - directly or indirectly. b You are trying to address the cause, not just the symptoms, of a problem. b You seriously considered several solutions before choosing one. THE CREATIVE ACTIVIST CHECKLIST b Your solution relies mostly on your assets - what you have - rather than what you need. b You are experimenting with different actions to get at the same results. b You are measuring your success by the real difference you make to people and the environment. b You have a plan To share your journey and your story with others. 29
  31. Need more help? Use other toolkits to learn and apply the best practices of creative activists. THE CREATIVE ACTIVIST TOOLKITSTM Root Cause Analysis Address the cause, not the symptom. Project Profiles Introduce yourself through video. Glorified Press Releases Make your story stand out. Make It Count The art of creating measurable change. Message with SUCCESs How to communicate with impact. The Tao of MacGyver Do what you can with what you have. PerfectYour Pitch How to present project to funders. Pitch Tempalate Keynote and PowerPoint Templates. Download all the toolkits at CreativeVisions.org30
  32. THE CREATIVE VISIONS FOUNDATION Inspired by Dan Eldon, the Creative Visions Foundation supports “Creative Activists,” individuals who use the power of media and arts to create positive change in the world. Founded in 1998 by Kathy and Amy Eldon, Creative Visions has provided funding, mentorship and fiscal sponsorship to more than 85 creative activists whose projects reach and impact millions around the world. Visit for tools, resources and opportunities to connect with creative activists. 31
  33. The Creative Activist ToolkitTM was developed and written by Charles Tsai, an educator and consultant to social entrepreneurs. Charles speaks on social innovation and faciliates workshops in social entrepreneurship at universities and conferences around the world. Charles is the founder of Social Creatives, an online resource that helps changemakers learn and apply best practices of the social sector: Designer: Jennifer Browning The Creative Activist Toolkit is made possible by the generous support of the Heineman Foundation. CREDITS 32
  34. W W W W W© 2011 Creative Visions Foundation