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5 Ways to Make History

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Elections aren’t until November. But the heart of the process is going on right now. Here are my top 5 ideas for making a difference—and staying sane—in the coming months.


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Share your views.

Talk to that 19-year-old who “knows” her vote doesn't count. Discuss an issue she cares about and encourage her to check out, where she can register on-line. Write a letter to the editor or an e-mail to friends. Call in to a talk show. Be informative, clear, and brief, and speak from your heart. The fact that you care matters to people.

Donate and volunteer.

I too wish we had real campaign finance reform. But for now, money makes a big difference. I'm loosening my purse strings for people and organizations I believe in. Hold a coffee for a candidate or campaign you support, and encourage your friends to join you in making a contribution. And every campaign needs volunteers—pick your favorite and find out what you can do.

Support independent media.

How we think about an issue has a lot to do with what we've read, heard, or seen. The corporate-owned media have way too much clout. Give money, time, and encouragement to your community radio station, an informative website, or a magazine that reflects your values, so they can reach more people.

Join a conversation.

Join a conversation—outside your comfort zone. We all prefer to talk with people who see the world the way we do. But democracy is about understanding each other. Check out Let's Talk America and consider joining or hosting a conversation. You may find yourself better prepared for that awkward conversation with your brother-in-law.

Keep your sights on the long term.

It will take far more than one election to bring about the deep changes needed to reverse the damage to our planet and create a society that treats everyone fairly. Make your political work count toward building lasting networks, organizations, and relationships. Get your organization involved in coalitions that can work together over the long haul.


Fran Korten wrote this article as part of What is the Good Life, the Summer 2004 issue of YES! Magazine. Fran is Executive Director of the Positive Futures Network, Publishers of YES! Magazine.

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