Tuesday, 22 January 2013

A Challenge to All Charities

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When I’m asked what The Challenge Network does I find it tricky to be succinct.

I can tell you a story: two friends and I read that people in the UK had less trust in their neighbours than anywhere in Europe and thought we should do something about it. We wanted to make sure a diverse UK didn’t mean a divided UK

But I can’t pass ‘the one word test’. I can’t give you one single word that tells you everything.

I think that really matters. Take two friends of mine.

One works for Amnesty International. She can pass the test. ‘What do you do?’ ‘Rights’ she says.

The other works for Friends of the Earth. He can do it in too. ‘Environment’, he says.

What worries me is that all great social movements – ‘pass the one word test’. And our movement – to reconnect society – doesn’t.

At least not yet.

Because here’s the rub. 100 years ago, no-one had heard of rights. 50 years ago no-one spoke about the environment.

In fact, all great movements start by failing the one word test. They have to. For great movements come into being to fight a cause so poorly neglected that no-one has a simple name for it. And the first thing they do is name it – with one word – and then champion it until everyone knows it.

Amnesty had ‘rights’. Friends of the Earth had ‘environment’. What should ours be? 

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