Here are my recommendations if you are embarking on a quixotic quest to change the world in some way.
- Talk to everyone, because you never know who will suddenly join your efforts and give you unexpected advice.
- Learn to let other’s take ownership of the project. Try to partner with existing groups rather than competing and creating from scratch.
- Try to follow the Ella Baker model of organizing. Strive to not be the focal point, but rather the behind the scenes enabler and facilitator. Strive for non-hierarchical relations.
- Be aware of the political implications, but don’t spend all your time chasing politicians.
- Strive for sustainability, especially when the money runs out and the foreign NGOs go away. Are there local groups which will take ownership and continue the project afterwards? Or does the project generate its own income? Try to ween yourself off foreign funds and outside control.
How to take care of yourself:
- Realize the limits of what you can do and set achievable short term and long term goals.
- Set some clear limits for how much you are willing to sacrifice and then take time off when burned out.
- You will probably fail, but try to learn from your failures.
I can’t say that I have been very successful in my own quest to change the world in some way, but it is what I have learned.