“Small acts when multiplied by millions can transform the world.” That quote is attributed to Howard Zinn, an American historian, playwright, professor, and social activist probably best known for his A People’s History of the United States, (a book I highly recommend). When I built this website, LFPs were already multiplying. Thinking the quote appropriate, I put it at the bottom of the What We Do page. (That page needs work, BTW.) A year and a half later, I have a much better idea what it means.
Having graduated from a small liberal arts college with a degree in “English,” I enrolled in a master program to “study Faulkner” under the guise of becoming a teacher. After two years’ graduate assistance teaching Freshman Composition I and II, I went to law school (for a semester). “Teaching is a calling,” I said. “I can count the number of truly inspirational teachers I’ve had on one hand.” I wasn’t hearing the call. University of LaVerne’s website offers this: “50% – 70% of students change their majors at least once. Most will change majors at least 3 times before they graduate. Students should choose a major based on current job trends.” Many of us (me) are still trying to figure out what we want to be when we grow up.
Years later through the LFP Project I learned I love working with kids. Last week I worked with two Springdale Public Schools 4th and 5th grade EAST Initiative Program groups. The kids plan to map all NWA-area services from LFPs to LFLs to bricks and mortar pantries. They’d already mapped food deserts and hope their continued work will provide location guidance to potential pantry stewards/emergency food organizations. They’re considering the merits of website development over app development. A student asked about data. I explained because anonymity and discretion are conceptually critical, collecting data is difficult. One of the schools decided to connect with a local engineering firm about a solution.
Also last week, City of Charleston Vegan Club, Charleston Veggies & Vegans, and City of Charleston Faculty for Compassionate & Sustainable Living celebrated World Vegan Day with a potluck and party. Admission to that event was a vegan donation to the Lowcountry Blessing Box Project.
A small act multiplied by millions does transform the world because it inspires others, whether to the same or tangential action. A small act’s greatest potential to transform the world, though, is that it creates unpredictable and diverse opportunities for connection among those in its orbit—from EAST Initiative Program students, to engineers, to vegans, to pub-goers--those connections influencing unpredictable and diverse action across disciplines. So much complexity may be found within an empty box, a small act.
Often what mediates that complexity is our simple human need to serve others--a community’s impoverished, someone at the bar. What are the current job trends? Is it any wonder we don't know what to do with ourselves? Better guidance for those of all ages might be, How will you serve?