How Do We Cultivate Social Change?

Part I: Building sustainable activism against unhealthy systems

Sam Chavez
Sam Chavez

Table of Contents

๐Ÿค“ Bite-Sized Knurd: In this period of backsliding, how do changemakers make social change that will last? In August, weโ€™re exploring the ingredients for rooting out unhealthy systems to cultivate sustainable change.

In Case You Missed It: A Community View of Loneliness

The streets hummed to a standstill. Nervous faces stuck out from windows. We were unsure if we should even get groceries.

I donned my black bandana like a Western outlaw to join the hoards of people on the streets chanting the names of Black lives that we lost to racist violence. Watching the videos. The sneer of Derek Chauvin. A policeman pushing an elderly protester to the ground. A wave of protesters across the Golden Gate Bridge. Solidarity. Vitality. Resistance.

A cold November night. Trying to watch โ€˜Spiderman Far From Homeโ€™ without having a panic attack. Ignoring the pings from my Twitter feed. Tension in my chest. Election night. What will tomorrow look like? Can Joe do it?

How do we cultivate social change?

This question has been on my mind, maybe since forever, but definitely since 2020.

My first-ever newsletter was about my take on the 2020 Election and where Democrats were falling short in tying popular policies to the party.

โ€œYes, Joe Biden won the White House and Raphael Warnock & Jon Ossoff helped clinch the Senate, but Democrats underperformed in local, House, and most Senate races. Thereโ€™s a difference between wanting to defeat the worst President in the history of the U.S. and having a favorable view of the Democratic Party.โ€

I was frustrated.

We had just lived through four years of a fascist president who shaped our climate (both literal and metaphorical) to be more hateful and individualistic, plus a pandemic that had killed hundreds of thousands of Americans by that point.

I could no longer watch from the sidelines in my overworked, underappreciated corporate job where I knew the marketing I was doing was manipulative, extractive, and harmful.

So I quitโ€ฆ

With nothing lined up (which itself is an immense privilege), I set out to work with nonprofits and campaigns to cultivate human connection through thoughtful digital and communications strategies.

I also began a personal quest to better understand myself, other humans, the world around us, and how we cultivate change.

The pandemic was one of those rare opportunities to shift society forward. It was a transition period to reframe the way we live and work, what we value, and who is worthy in our society. Elected officials, business elites, and our institutions missed that opportunity. They favored short-term stability with increased profits at the top for the long-term reshaping of our systems and economy to create a sustainable and equitable society.

Itโ€™s been almost three years since I started my quest. While the pillars of how I view social change are the same, my language and knowledge have deepened. With new language comes new ways to communicate.

This month, I want to talk about why I write this newsletter: social change.

  • How do we achieve it?
  • What is each of our roles?
  • How can we make it last?
  • What are we working against to achieve change?
  • What are our tools?

Next week, weโ€™ll dive into some theories, but first I want to hear from you!

In your view, how can we cultivate social change?

Weโ€™ve had a busy summer! Check out some of our latest work and tools to help your advocacy & activism.

๐Ÿ—ผ๐Ÿ—ž: Newsletter๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘งโ€๐Ÿ‘ฆ for activists & heart-first humans ๐ŸŒฑ๐ŸŒฑ๐Ÿ‘ท๐Ÿฝโ€โ™€๏ธ Organizing & Movements

Sam Chavez

Sam is a writer, strategist, and curious human. She founded the roots of change agency in 2020. Sam is a queer, white, LatinX activist whoโ€™s passionate about a livable planet & equitable societies.


Navigating heart-first activism & storytelling. We explore the ๐ŸŒฑ roots of our world to support communicators, organizations, and activists ๐Ÿฅต to avoid burnout and ๐Ÿ“š tell empathetic stories that cultivate connections that ๐ŸŒ empower โœŠ๐Ÿฝ social change.

Learn more about the Roots of Change Agency.