Thinking Big, Starting Small:
From Vision to Action
This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.
There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.
Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.
Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody’s job.
Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.
It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.
Young people have amazing imaginations. Beyond changing their schools or improving their communities, they want to change the world. “Change makers”
These aspirations must be encouraged to grow and develop. Too often however, both youth and adults can become discouraged by the enormity of what they want to do. The tasks seem too many. The fear of failure is too great. Things can seem hopeless and lost. Creating change requires having a vision for how you want things to be different. It requires imagining what could exist beyond current realities and real world experiences. However, change may not occur if you do not take some kind of action.
Translating ideas into action is sometimes really difficult because it can be hard to break down “Big Ideas” into manageable parts. This abstract focuses on how to develop a “vision” and then provides a step-by-step framework for putting those visions into action.
In order to create change, it’s important to partner with young people to imagine and articulate a desired future. This is what it means to create a vision.
What do you want the future to look like? Developing a vision is the first step toward taking intentional action for change. Here are some ideas for creating a vision:
Start by asking young people “what matters to you?”, “what do you want to change?”, or “what do you want to create?” These questions may be hard for some youth to answer at first, especially if they have never thought about it or have never been asked about how things could be different.
Other questions that can guide a discussion about visions for change can include:
• What would your ideal (community, school, etc) be like?
• What needs to be changed in your school/community?
• What can we do to help make positive changes?
Big Steps Outreach Network (BONET) members have found it helpful to have youth journal or talk with a partner about these questions before starting a group discussion. These questions are also great for Chalk Talks. A Chalk Talk is an activity in which participants have a silent conversation on a large piece of paper around a specific question. The question is written at the top of the paper and, using a marker,
Participants respond by making comments, asking questions, responding to each other, etc. It’s a great way for all “voices” to be heard even though the activity is silent.
An art project (drawing or making a model) can also be a fun way to envision “the ideal (school, classroom, community, etc)” and can be followed up with a discussion about the qualities that make this ideal.
Remember: In the visioning process no ideas are bad or wrong. Turn reactions to current realities into proactive solutions! Dream big and work with youth to do the same! Dream your most wild and ridiculous dreams for change! Remember what anthropologist Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever
Taking Vision into Action
What are some strategies for tackling large problems on a smaller scale? How can adults help youth believe in and take action on their dreams to act as change makers for their schools and communities? The following steps should be taking into consideration:
STEP ONE: Visioning and Brainstorming
Visioning helps develop dreams of new realities. Brainstorming helps start the process of determining a vision and how to begin to take action. One idea for brainstorming is to write down all project ideas or all of the things in a community or school that your group would like to change. One activity BONET Volunteers do with youth to start brainstorming ideas is called Realms of Concern and Influence.
The purpose of this activity is to identify the issues that you have most control over and issues that you may not be able to change at this point in time.
STEP TWO: Find Themes
The next step is narrowing down the myriad of ideas from brainstorming. One idea is to check for two or three major themes in all the ideas. This can help young people get clear about what they are most passionate about. By narrowing down ideas, they can more easily decide on what topic to do a project.
Conclusively, teambuilding and trusting relationships are the best real world experiences for youth to actively participate in the development of their schools and communities as decision makers and change agents.
CAN THIS VISION BE TAKEN INTO ACTION?
Ø Where and