The Beauty of Bottom Up

Grassroots movements look very similar in the beginning:

A handful of people, tired but excited, sitting in someone’s living room or in a church rec room (thank God for churches!) on a weekday evening, big smiles and big ideas.

Not much gets done in the first meeting. It takes nearly all the time allotted to go around the room and say hello. There’s tension between the people that want to talk and the people who want to act. Disagreements between those who want rules and those who want openness. A lot of meta-talk, important but circular, usually about how to communicate, what the group actually is, whether it needs a logo, where the next meeting will be.

The organization almost never turns out like you thought it would. And, like most restaurants and small businesses, the majority of movements don’t make it, at least in the sense that the rest of the world never hears about them; they never make the front page.

But the people in that room are changed forever. They’ll tell you that, themselves. There is a courageous journey that happens when you attempt to make the world shift. You end up pushing your own boundaries, standing in very uncomfortable spaces, and seeing a few inches deeper into your values, as if peering at the fibers of a muscle.

From that point, everything you read, hear, and see is different. You’re deeper in. There was the time before the group and the time after it. And you walk around seeing people further along than you and further behind, in how they talk and what they’re doing. It’s all a lot clearer and you’re a lot closer. You know it in your bones.

Indeed, you did shift the world. Behold, there was a movement.