Protest is Not Enough... / by Liz Pitofsky

In a recent interview with The Atlantic magazine, Eric Liu, author of You're More Powerful Than You Think: A Citizen's Guide to Making Change Happen, explains why protest is important but not enough.  Anyone looking to create systemic change must "outline an alternative vision of what life should look like, and work to sell people on that vision."  This strategy is a critical component of the SLP model of service learning.  We give students the tools they need not just to identify and critique a problem, but to design a research-based, positive solution.  In the final phase of their project, students work together to persuade the people or institutions responsible for causing or solving their chosen problem to implement their vision.  A group of 3rd graders in downtown Brooklyn, for example, distressed by the many, and sometimes fatal, traffic accidents involving pedestrians in NYC advocated for a slow zone in their neighborhood. Working in partnership with a local advocacy group, the students organized a petition drive and took part in a Public Service Announcement (PSA) in an effort to persuade their local Community Board of the need and neighborhood-wide demand for a slow zone.  As Mr. Liu explains, rage is not enough: we must know how to "organize and activate other people for change."