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What is a Changemaker?

Updated: Jul 5, 2023

Change. It’s everywhere you look. Since the start of the industrial revolution about 250 years ago the pace of change has increased for every generation, affecting more and more people and places on the planet, until today when everyone and everything is part of a rapidly transforming world, whether they like it or not. Whether it’s the climate, politics, identities or technology, for many of us it feels like every day there’s something new for us to worry about. Like we’ve lost control of the world around us and can’t keep up. But at the same time, all over the world there are people and organisations looking around and seeing that in the middle of all this change there’s an opportunity to take a lead and build something new and better themselves. Increasingly those people are being called changemakers. But what is a changemaker? And how do you become one?

blue sky statue

If you do a Google search on changemakers there are currently 811,000,000 results! From podcasts to online training, charities, think tanks and innovation hubs, entrepreneurship courses, books and videos. The list is endless. The first time the term changemaker came into the public consciousness was in July 2016 when Bill Clinton gave a speech about his wife Hilary at the Democratic National Convention when she was standing for President against Donald Trump. At that time not many people had heard the term. But its origins are much earlier. In 1980, the American Social Entrepreneur Bill Drayton founded Ashoka, the global organisation whose mission is to “build and cultivate a community of Fellows, Young Changemakers, Changemaker Institutions, and beyond who see that the world now requires everyone to be a changemaker – a person that sees themselves as capable of creating large-scale, positive change." Since then, the concept of the changemaker has spread across the planet until today’s explosion of interest. Ashoka has done an amazing job democratising the feeling that everyone can be an agent of change on the planet.

But what if your ambitions are less grand? Does that mean you can’t be a changemaker? Currently change making is very much associated with entrepreneurship and innovation, but we at the Human Hive define it slightly differently. For us change is more about the every day experience of being human. We believe that the kind of big change we need on the planet right now comes from the result of small, every day changes that start inside you. Changes in attitude, mindset and behaviour can make a massive difference to the way you show up in the world, which has a knock on effect on those you interact with.We believe that the key elements every human needs in order to flourish are to feel a sense of Safety, a sense of Belonging and a sense of Purpose in their lives.

man holding baby

So for us a changemaker is someone who creates those feelings for others wherever they go - changing the environment around them by the way they make people feel. The most profound changes come when we feel safe enough together to collaborate and solve problems that we all care about. Big or small. Since 2015, The Human Hive has been involved in grassroots change making on a very human level. We began our work converting a yellow double decker bus into a school to support people going through the refugee experience in the Calais refugee camp known as the Jungle. Which brought us into contact with thousands of amazing people from across the world who wanted to help people going through probably the biggest crisis of their lives. The most powerful change making that we could see was happening human to human, as individuals reached out across cultural, linguistic and political divides to help and learn from each other. Sometimes a simple smile could be the biggest change that someone needed to help them get through another day. But we also saw the cost of that help. Without proper support and care, the changemakers also started to suffer. And when the changemakers suffered too much, their ability to be effective and make meaningful change suffered too. So we shifted the focus of the Human Hive to empower, support and care for these every day changemakers, because we could see that with all the rapid change I talked about at the beginning of this video, without them, the world was going to be a pretty bleak place. Whether you are focusing your changemaking activities on People, Places or Planet, to make real and lasting change takes time. It takes a few moments to break something, but to rebuild, restore and renew takes many hours, days and even years of patient, focused work. To be a changemaker requires long term dedication and optimism to keep going, which requires resilience. Resilience is the ability to deal with and manage change - the ability to pick yourself up after another set back or disappointment and keep going. And that can be really hard. Especially if you feel alone in the struggle. But we are here to tell you that you do not have to be alone. If we’re going to solve the many problems facing us on this planet today, we need each other more than ever to get the job done. To hold us when we feel overwhelmed, to pitch in when we need help and to celebrate when we succeed. To be a changemaker is not a solo role. It is a collective endeavour in which we all hold hands and move forward together. Join us and #JoinTheEvolution


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