Shift the Country
Help Spread an Outbreak of Humanity
We're in a Disaster But We Can Do Things To Help People Through, Hold It Together, & Make Change
We need everyone who can do anything anywhere to jump in and help.
We can take care of each other. We can help each other through. We can hold this country together through a very rough winter.
The US is in the biggest set of crises in decades with a pandemic, a tenuous presidential transition, widespread science denial endangering public health, insidious disinformation efforts, upcoming complicated vaccine distributions, empowered hate groups, institutional erosion, and intensifying disasters.
Change is coming… whether we drive it or not. Chaos and trauma push us into shock, inaction, and hand-wringing. All of us can help in ways that are decisive, impactful, and purposeful; and that pull us forward through overwhelm and crisis.
When millions of people each do something helpful… shift can happen. We find our way through. Together.
We have an approach to get this shift going. It’s a framework with a 5-part strategy, a 4-part mission, 4 principles, 15 tools for doing helpful things, and 10 structural areas for action anywhere. It’s adaptable, scalable, and flexible. Any person or organization can plug in anywhere.
5-Part Strategy To Make Shift Happen
We can create something like a phenomenon by doing several things in combination. It doesn’t have to be a huge phenomenon. It can be in a small, rural town. It might be in a regional community, or a national online interest group. It can be anywhere.
Any person, tiny informal group, or big organization can find a way to make some shift happen somewhere with this approach. It might just be about looking after neighbors. It might be a regional public health push. It can be anything.
THE 5-PART STRATEGY IS:
1. DO HELPFUL THINGS. Create A Groundswell of People Doing Helpful Things.
2. GET GROUPS TOGETHER TO DO BIGGER THINGS. Build Power with More Teamwork & Greater Alliances.
3. RAISE A RUCKUS. Create Spectacle. Drive the Public Agenda. Drive the Narrative.
4. SPREAD THE RUCKUS THROUGH OUR NETWORKS. Make Shift Go Viral by Creating Tipping Points in Social Networks Online & In Real Life.
5. COUNTER FEAR. Embrace Humanity But Take Risk Seriously While Taking Action.
Details for each tool are in the 15 Tools For Doing Helpful Things section. The first 5 tools are the same as the 5-part strategy.
The interrelated parts of the approach here are designed to Create Something Like A Phenomenon when used together.
Shift the Country is an initiative founded in this moment of great disruption. We're here to advocate for mass action. A groundswell of people doing helpful things. Mass transformation. Big shift. We’re coming into an extremely intense time. We need it all.
Our 4-part mission is to get people doing helpful things, to help people help each other through several crises, to hold civil society and institutions together, and to make transformation along the way.
Join us - sign up to get involved, or check out the social media and event links below.
This call for a groundswell of people doing helpful things is in addition to voting and protests – because we’ll need way more than voting and protests to get through what’s coming.
We’re calling on Americans to get engaged doing helpful things. To be more helpful than ever before. To be more engaged than many already are. We’re calling on Americans to do even more helpful things even as people are already doing so much extra for so many reasons.
We need all the things – everything from checking on your neighbors to helping hold society together. We need little tiny things, great big huge things, individual things, small group things, huge national alliance things, local coalition things, business things, entrepreneurial things, big idea things, process things, adaptive things, nonprofit things, partnership things, work things, family things, friend things, church things, school things, simple things, complicated things, courageous things, heartwarming things, loving things, tough things, fearless things, unprecedented things, things online, things in the real world, risky things, relatively safe things… and a whole range of things in between.
If everybody who’s in a position to do at least something does something – or maybe a few somethings – we’ll have millions of people doing millions of things. And we all move forward. We all have a better shot of surviving. We all have a better shot of making this country into something more like what we might dream it could be. For all of us.
In the immediate future, the Shift the Country approach is designed to help us take practical action in communities and throughout social networks everywhere in this country to help us look after each other, get through several crises, hold things together, and to do good in many ways across society while we do. It’s designed to strengthen the social fabric, and renew and refresh the social contract. To help people get through, to survive, and to help more people survive.
In the longer term, the structure of this work is designed to help shift the country away from individualism as the greatest good – and to help shift the country toward an ethos of service, connection, humanity, and community.
Author George Monbiot notes difficulty with this kind of cultural transformation in our overarching cultural mythology; our shared story. He puts forward “The New Political Story That Could Change Everything,” in a TED Talk here or here. In it, Monbiot says:
“We need a new restoration story, which is going to guide us out of the mess we're in, which tells us why we're in the mess and tells us how to get out of that mess. And that story, if we tell it right, will infect the minds of people across the political spectrum. Our task is to tell the story that lights the path to a better world.”
Monbiot suggests: “Our new story could go something like this. Disorder afflicts the land! Caused by the powerful and nefarious forces of people who say there's no such thing as society, who tell us that our highest purpose in life is to fight like stray dogs over a dustbin. But the heroes of the story, us, we'll revolt against this disorder. We will fight those nefarious forces by building rich, engaging, inclusive, and generous communities, and, in doing so, we will restore harmony to the land.” And so we can. And the Shift the Country framework can help.
We can navigate this time of disruption with 4 principles: connection, community, resilience, and problem-solving. Those 4 principles can help us survive, and to shift toward a more equitable, just, inclusive, and sustainable society. The principles are our strengths, too. We are a resilient country of problem-solvers and innovators. When the unimaginable happens – and it will – Americans are good at leaping into the unexpected, helping each other, and finding ways through. This framework can help us do all of that as new shocks and crises occur over the coming weeks and months.
More On How We Get Shift To Happen
Our roadmap, or framework, is in this Shift The Country white paper PDF.
The same content is readable via mobile in the links below:
- Creating Something Like A Phenomenon
- Why Civic Engagement Is Critical
- The Flexibility In The Framework
- 15 Tools To Help People Do Some Things
- 10 Structural Areas For Action Anywhere
- More To The Story: A Structural Framework For the Risks We Face
- More To The Story: Urgency & Risk
- More To The Story: How To Spread The Ruckus Far & Wide (Fostering Tipping Points)
- How Can I Support This Shift?
- Proposal to Shift the Country (141 pgs), Updated October 2020
The white paper has the operational framework we're using to ramp up in late 2020.
The lengthier 141-page proposal has the collected in-depth methodology behind all of the work here. Most of the methodology for Shift the Country has been collected and assembled by the founder here, Vanessa Burnett (bio here and on LinkedIn here).
There's even more depth on where all of this came from via Back Stories: This Disruption Was Not Unexpected.
Where We're Making Shift Happen
- Patreon: Help support the work over time here.
- GoFundMe: Send 1-time contributions here.
- Sign Up: I'm Up For This Shift
- Online Events: Eventbrite ***Rolling out aggressively in early December***
- Facebook: Like & share our page for updates, reactions to news, random resilience reminders, FB Lives, webinars, & interviews!
- YouTube: Subscribe to our channel!
- Twitter: Follow us @ShiftTheCountry, & retweet our stuff here!
- Broadcasts: Find our videos, webinars, interviews, stories, & podcasts (soon) here!
- Community: Discord (coming soon)
- Website: www.shiftthecountry.com (this website)
- Email: shiftthecountry at gmail dot com - or contact us
- Main: (202) 556-0317
We're ramping up our social media, videos, workshops, storytelling, blog posts, webinars, and community-building as funds come in.
Holler when you've got stories to tell and examples of stuff we can share. That's all part of creating a phenomenon here - spiraling up, and spreading ruckus. Using the tools, telling the stories, talking to people about what we're doing, sharing it, & signing up for team work. Getting the word out. Sharing each other's progress. Then we spread it further, and keep right on going. More ways to support the shift here.
More money makes more shift happen. This Shift the Country civic engagement initiative was founded in July 2020. We're at the very beginning of fundraising. We're totally crowdfunded via Patreon and GoFundMe. Every bit of help helps us make more shift happen. Contributions are not deductible for federal income tax purposes as charitable contributions.
Why This Is Urgent Like Right Now
Why are we pushing all of this so urgently now? Here’s a super high-level look at US situation and risk as of October 2020. In terms of the election and transfer of power, widespread voter suppression efforts combined with a pandemic and the Trump Administration’s mail system delays have increased tension and queues in polling places for early voting. Other polling concerns exist as Mr. Trump has suggested that followers intimidate voters. Election results could take days or weeks to clarify, leaving space for Mr. Trump, media, disinformation efforts, and conspiracy theorists to attempt to push election narratives, or to make false declarations. Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence are not willing to commit to a peaceful transfer of power. Mr. Trump has publicly stated an array of actions he has considered for various scenarios.
Even if the November election goes well, we have an out-of-control pandemic in the US that will lead to much more death, illness in hundreds of thousands over the next months, potential healthcare system overwhelm, and long-term disability in the millions. The Trump Administration has actively obstructed an appropriate pandemic response, and is pushing an untenable, impossible “herd immunity” approach that will massively increase deaths, long-term disability, and long-term healthcare system overwhelm. State and local governments in many places are actively obstructing an appropriate public health response. Healthcare coverage for millions could be removed by the US Supreme Court in November. Everyday Americans, small businesses, and local governments have not received recent additional federal pandemic support while businesses fail, governments lose revenue, and people can’t cover rent, mortgages, utilities or food; evictions and utility shut-offs will increase without systems in place to account for the impacts; winter has arrived in much of the US which will increase the complexity of many things tied to the pandemic. Pandemic and other widespread instability and damage will persist; interruptions or failures of massive interconnected systems will lead to unforeseen cascading effects across every segment of US society, its structures, its social fabric, and its systems.
There are many weeks in the interim period between election day and the day in which losing Republicans will leave office – January 3 for the US Senate, and January 20 for Mr. Trump. Republicans in federal office and in the Trump Administration can do significant additional damage to the US government during this interim period, especially as the administration as shown a willful disregard for the law, and as the US Senate has refused to effectively oversee the administration and has instead enabled it. Russia is actively executing operations to further weaken the US by sowing chaos and discord including real-world impacts tied to public health, the election, the economy, racial tensions, civic unrest, conspiracy theories, and possibly violence. A growing number of Americans now follow complex conspiracy theories, deny science, and are actively impeding public health measures, behaviours, or best practices. Radicalized, armed domestic extremist groups have been increasingly active and emboldened by Republican party messaging and stochastic incitement from the US president, including in reference to plots around two sitting US governors.
Assuming there is a successful transfer of power from the Trump Administration to the Biden Administration on Inauguration Day January 20, 2021, the US government will not instantaneously transform and become spontaneously functional and efficient after being heavily eroded and corrupted by the Trump Administration. The death, disability, illness, and damage from the pandemic will be significantly more widespread by late January. After Inauguration Day, the US will still have a conspiracy theorist problem, widespread disinformation, dangerous levels of science denial, an emboldened white supremacist terrorist network – and the usual array of wicked problems, from systemic racism to growing oligarchy to obvious massive shortfalls in education to increasing wealth inequality and so on.
We are facing incredible damage to this country and to its people. To us. We just don’t know how much yet, or who we will lose. We know loss is coming. This framework was designed to help us find our way through the damage, loss, and chaos; to deal with it; and to help hold our very society, our functionality, and social fabric together while we do.
We Can Make This Shift Happen
Thank you for your interest, action, support and time. In everything you are doing in this moment.
We – Americans – can help build coalitions. We can help each other survive a deadly pandemic. We can help the US hold a successful and fair election. We can help hold this country together during the pandemic and a potentially tumultuous presidential transfer of power. We can help institutions help us survive, while we also work on transforming them to serve all Americans in more equitable, just, and sustainable ways. We can help shift this country so that we can partner with other countries for a global transformation to address the urgency that is climate change.
“We believe that COVID-19 will be one of the biggest economic, political, and cultural turning points of our lifetime, and how we respond will shape our future.” – New Media Ventures website
People are already fighting for each other; fighting for this country; fighting for public health action to save lives. They are working to help keep other people alive in hospitals and nursing homes; to keep grocery stores and other critical services operating; to help feed people; to help reform police departments and spending in communities everywhere.
We – together – can do even more. It’s going to take millions of us doing all the things. Shift the Country is bringing more of the things, as are so many others. Together we can help organize, catalyze, and amplify action and transformation at a scale never before seen in this country.
Shift the Country can help you and anyone else take it to the next level. We’re here to make serious shift happen. We’re here to help us all survive, stay alive, and thrive. There are ways. We find them together.
"There are some people who live in a dream world, and there are some who face reality; and then there are those who turn one into the other." - Douglas Everett
Keep the faith - in humanity, if nothing else. Hold the line. Hold the light. Try not to get dead.
We will absolutely find ways through. There is an other side. We help each other get there. We make it worth getting to.
That's how we get it done.
LINKS. || I'm In! Sign Me Up || How Can I Support All This Shift? || 15 Tools for Doing Helpful Things || 10 Structural Areas For Action Anywhere || Printable Shift the Country Framework || FB || Twitter || Videos & Broadcasts || YouTube || Workshops & Scheduled Livestreams || Services || The Blog || 25 Focus Areas For Navigating Disruption ||
MORE RELATED STUFF IS BELOW. Patreon and GoFundMe support help us make more shift happen faster. Tagged resources below are blog posts & videos for Shift the Country in general. Help us share this stuff everywhere with everyone you know & totally raise an absolute ruckus. Thank you. Good luck.