Some stories start big…. a sunrise ocean vista, mountains rolling into the distance, the vast expanse of starry outer space. But so often our favorite stories, the ones that really stick, start small.
This is the first lesson we all learned watching our favorite Disney movie and the first lesson we forgot when we grew up to face the giant social problems of our time. The largess of these challenges seem to only amplify our inability to engage with them, let alone solve them. Over and over again, we put our faith in the silver bullet, the act of congress, the technological break through, the overwhelming power of statistics. We are convinced that hope and action happen far away from the neighborhood we live in.
And at the same time we seem to be living in an era where the power of smallness is abundant. From the Tunisian street cart vendor who sparked a revolution to the Etsy shop owner who makes recycled jewelry, evidence that individual actions matter is everywhere. This leaves most of us pretty confused. Are we recycling because it feels good or because it makes a difference? Are we telling stories of individuals because they are psychologically more persuasive or because we really believe people matter? This dissonance makes a skeptic out of the most soft hearted progressive.
So let’s start with the above video, a small piece of our own journey to figure out how change actually happens and what part we normal humans have to play. We created this piece with ioby.org, a crowd-resourcing platform for citizen-led neighborhood projects. During our time shooting in neighborhood hen houses, vacant lot gardens and mountain top fish farms we started getting the idea that maybe these small steps aren’t beautiful because their small. Maybe they’re beautiful because they are exactly the sort of re-weaving of the communal fabric all other big changes is clothed in. Maybe they are beautiful because they remind us that the best place to start is right here.