The Story of Change

The Story of Change

Why conscious consumerism is a great place to start, but a terrible place to stop.


When filmmaker and activist Annie Leonard set out in 2007 to share what she’d learned about the way we make, use and discard our “stuff,” she thought 50,000 hits would be a great audience for her “twenty-minute cartoon about trash.” Four years later, more than 15 million people had watched Leonard’s video, “The Story of Stuff,” making it the most watched environmental video of all time.

In early 2011, Leonard released “The Story of Citizens United,” the best short history of the growth of corporate power I’ve ever read, heard or seen.

She followed that up with “The Story of Broke,” an eight-minute animated movie that directly challenged those who argue that America is penniless and incapable of paying its bills, let alone making investments in a more sustainable and fair economy.

Now, Leonard is back with “The Story of Change,” a powerful and typically informed polemic imploring viewers to put down their credit cards and start exercising their citizenship to help build a more sustainable, just and fulfilling world.

Faced with daunting environmental and social problems with few easy solutions, many progressives resignedly conclude that the best they can do to influence change is to buy green or fair-trade products. In her new video, Leonard lauds conscious consumerism but rightly calls it a great place to start, but a terrible place to stop.

The six-minute film features an inspiring exploration of what effective changemaking has looked like through history—from Gandhi to the civil rights movement to the victories of the early environmental movement. It spotlights the elements found whenever and wherever people unite to make change: a big idea, a commitment to working together, and the ability and patience to turn that idea and commitment into meaningful action.

What’s striking about the movements Leonard highlights is that they all pushed fundamental change and they often did so while a majority of the population, as measured by public opinion polls and punditry, was arrayed against them, as Sami Grover makes clear in a good post at TreeHugger.

After watching, share the video with friends, family and your Facebook and Twitter communities; consider donating to the project and check out the “Story of Change” resource page for more info and tips on getting involved.

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