WORLD VOICE: How Social Change Happens

WORLD VOICE: How Social Change Happens

I know a lot of people – women and mothers especially – doing really amazing things in the world. It is this that comforts me when I start to get depressed about the news. There are people all over the world who are using their unique gifts to creatively tackle the difficulties of our time – income inequality, racism, sexism, xenophobia, war, gun violence, climate change – name a problem and you’ll find a person or group of people devoting time, energy, and talent to both the causes and effects of these problems. My faith in humanity lies in its willingness to figure out the messes we keep creating.

Now that my oldest is nearing 5 years old, his questions about the world are becoming more complex. He is beginning to see the interconnectedness of the world and I am of course trying to make sure that my answers both satisfy his curiosity and invite him further into critical thinking.

To me, this feels like an essential part of raising a socially conscious child; I don’t want to teach him what to think about the world, I want to teach him how to think about the world, and then how to translate this critical analysis into meaningful action.

I recently had the pleasure of listening to one of the authors of the book This is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt is Shaping the 21st Century speak about social movement ecology at the nonprofit I co-founded. Paul Engler spoke directly to something I’ve struggled with as a person committed to social change. What should I be doing? Do we fight the system? Do we “be the change”? Do we scrap everything and start over?

Paul’s answer was that for real social change to happen, we need a healthy ecosystem of efforts. For some of us this will mean a focus on personal transformation and healing, for others it will mean modeling a different way of operating outside of existing institutions, and for some it will mean taking a stand against existing structures in an effort to change or influence them. For most of us, we will move between and among all three, depending on where we are in our own lives. All approaches are necessary and all lead to meaningful social change. Like all other ecosystems, diversity is key!

So how do we, as parents, model this?

How do we empower our children to take meaningful action in the world in the way that makes the most sense for them at each point in their life?

And how do we model the necessary cooperation and collaboration that has to happen between all people working for social change so that the ecosystem can be healthy and productive?

Well, like all things we want to teach our children, we do these things ourselves! The work for us then, as parents, is to identify what we have to offer the world, and to commit to using these gifts and talents in a way that makes the most sense for where we are in our lives. I think the mistake I’ve made in the past has been feeling like whatever I did to address social woes had to be big and bold. Since having children I’ve learned the impact of small things. Each choice, every day, can be a socially conscious one.

This, perhaps, is what I want to make sure I teach my children: when it comes to social change, every choice matters and our choices must be informed by a commitment to personal transformation, a willingness to approach the existing institutions with a critical eye, and the courage to create new ways of doing and being outside of what already exists.

Do you have a way that you try to teach your children to give back in the world?

This is an original post written for World moms blog by Ms. V.

Photo Source: the National Archives and Records Administration

Ms. V. (South Korea)

Ms. V returned from a 3-year stint in Seoul, South Korea and is now living in the US in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her partner, their two kids, three ferocious felines, and a dog named Avon Barksdale. She grew up all over the US, mostly along the east coast, but lived in New York City longer than anywhere else, so considers NYC “home.” Her love of travel has taken her all over the world and to all but four of the 50 states. Ms. V is contemplative and sacred activist, exploring the intersection of yoga, new monasticism, feminism and social change. She is the co-director and co-founder of Samdhana-Karana Yoga: A Healing Arts Center, a non-profit yoga studio and the spiritual director for Hab Community. While not marveling at her beautiful children, she enjoys reading, cooking, and has dreams of one day sleeping again.

More Posts

Follow Me:

SOCIAL GOOD: The Story Behind Simple Giving

SOCIAL GOOD: The Story Behind Simple Giving


In a little over four months, my book will be out in the public in paperback and electronic forms. It gives me chills to think about this fact.

It is a lifelong dream to publish a book, and I’m excited to accomplish this goal before I turn 40. (I’ll even have a few months to spare!) While I am a co-author in the book The Mother of All Meltdowns, this will be my first solo book. It will also be my first traditionally published book.

I honestly don’t remember when I initially came up with the idea for Simple Giving. Let’s just say it was a few years back. I know that I wanted to take what I was writing about philanthropy on my blog, another jennifer, and expand on it. I know I felt a constant pull to give more and to share all the stories I was finding through the Philanthropy Friday series on my blog in a bigger way. I know I found a community of world changers that spanned the globe who inspired me to push myself further.

I finally got the nerve to ask my then father-in-law and seasoned literary agent if he thought I should pursue my idea. He not only liked the idea, he offered to represent me.

You never know what will happen with your goals and dreams if you don’t pursue them.

It took me a long time to finish my proposal, never mind the actual writing of the book. When you work on something so close to you personally, fear can often rear its ugly head and get in the way of your progress. Other priorities – like work that actually pays, writing, parenting and attempting to have a social life – push the big scary stuff to the back burner. I wrote a post back in March of 2013 about fear and writing.

There were a couple of times that I just had to get away and write without distraction. I was fortunate enough to have my parents take my kids for days at a time so I could retreat from the world and immerse myself in my book. Those were the times I got the most research and organizations done, along with some much needed free writing.

And then I came to the realization that my marriage was ending. After one Sunday evening conversation, reality set in. I woke up the next morning feeling a shell-shocked. I remember getting my boys off to school and sitting down at the desk in my home office. I started the computer and stared at the screen wondering what I would do next. A million things were running through my head.

I opened my email and there, waiting for me in my inbox, was a draft contract from my publisher. I had known it would be coming for a few weeks, but the contracts department was backed up. It came at a time when I needed the reassurance that everything was going to be alright. Just a few weeks later I traveled to Nicaragua with WaterAid America. I was nervous about leaving my kids so soon after telling them that their father and I were separating, but that trip came at a time when I needed to get away and get back to basics.

While I can’t say that everything went as planned in the writing of this book, I can say that it all worked out for the best. Simple Giving is much better because of the extra time it took and the experiences I had along the way. In fact, the story that brings the entire book together is about a wonderful community I joined after divorce – that also happens to be my gym – that allowed me to bring my passion for global issues into an outdoor water-themed workout based on my experience in Nicaragua for World Water Day in Maine.

Maybe there was a plan after all.

Simple Giving is available for pre-sale on AmazonB&NBooks-A-Million and Indiebound.

This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Jennifer Iacovelli, of anotherjennifer and author of Simple Giving.

Is there a dream that you have but are afraid to pursue?

Jennifer Iacovelli

Jennifer Iacovelli is a writer, speaker and nonprofit professional. Based in Brunswick, Maine, she’s a proud single mom of two boys and one Siberian husky.  Jennifer is the author of the Another Jennifer blog and creator of the Simple Giving Lab. Jennifer is also a contributing author of the book The Mother Of All Meltdowns. Her work has been featured on GOODBlogHerUSAID ImpactFeed the Future and the PSI Impact blog. Her latest book, Simple Giving: Easy Ways to Give Every Day, is available everywhere. Her passions are writing, philanthropy, her awesome kids and bacon, though not necessarily in that order.

More Posts

HUMAN RIGHTS: A Voice for Children in Vietnam

HUMAN RIGHTS: A Voice for Children in Vietnam

Photo of writer holding and meeting her son for the first time in the orphanage in Saigon, Vietnam.

On a hot, steamy day in August of 2008, my husband and I stepped off of an airplane in Saigon, Vietnam.   Mere moments after touching down in this faraway land, we found ourselves standing outside of an orphanage in the sweltering summer heat, waiting to meet someone we had only seen in pictures.

And that’s when it happened; my life changed in two very important ways. An eleven-month old child was placed into my arms, and in an instant I was simultaneously transformed into a first-time mother as well as an advocate for the voiceless children of the world.

Looking back, it is hard to believe that such a profound change in how I defined myself could have happened in a single, solitary moment.  Months later I would realize how that one moment would end up overthrowing and redirecting the entire trajectory of my life.

After returning home, I started thinking about all the children we had seen in Vietnam, especially the ones residing in the orphanage. Once you see their faces, you cannot forget them.  Those of us in the international adoption community know this truth all too well: life in an orphanage is hard, and it can be devastating physically, emotionally and mentally.

As I witnessed my son struggle through his own post-institutional trauma, it seemed that I carried the images of his orphanage mates with me constantly.  I would stare at my son and be overtaken with a sense of responsibility to help take care of those we left behind. I had no idea where to start. I began researching about the plight of children, families and orphans in Vietnam. (more…)

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

More Posts

SOCIAL GOOD: Who Are Your Three?

SOCIAL GOOD: Who Are Your Three?

Who are the three people closest to you whom you can count on?  The people who would at the drop of a dime help you out?

Like, you’re calling from an international prison, and they don’t even ask what you did before they are already trying to bail you out?  THOSE kind of THREE.

The people you can count on.  The ones that in a bind will watch your kids.  The ones that will lend you a half cup of sugar when you really need it.

Maybe it’s your husband, your sister and your college roommate.  Maybe it’s your grown daughter, your best friend or the lady who knows you so well at the library from all of those book holds you place.

Maybe it’s your ex-lover (ooh, scandalous!), (more…)

Jennifer Burden

Jennifer Burden is the Founder and CEO of World Moms Network, an award winning website on global motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. World Moms Network writes from over 30 countries, has over 70 contributors and was listed by Forbes as one of the “Best 100 Websites for Women”, named a “must read” by The New York Times, and was recommended by The Times of India. She was also invited to Uganda to view UNICEF’s family health programs with Shot@Life and was previously named a “Global Influencer Fellow” and “Social Media Fellow” by the UN Foundation. Jennifer was invited to the White House twice, including as a nominated "Changemaker" for the State of the World Women Summit. She also participated in the One Campaign’s first AYA Summit on the topic of women and girl empowerment and organized and spoke on an international panel at the World Bank in Washington, DC on the importance of a universal education for all girls. Her writing has been featured by Baby Center, Huffington Post,, the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life, and The Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists.” She is currently a candidate in Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in the Executive Masters of Public Affairs program, where she hopes to further her study of global policies affecting women and girls. Jennifer can be found on Twitter @JenniferBurden.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me: