6 traps that will prevent you from making real change

Man trapped in the middle of rings surrounding himWhen you're in the early stages of planning dialogues, it can be easy to get stuck and not know what's stalling your progress. Here are six common traps that can prevent you from making real change, and ways to avoid them:

1. "Who's got the keys?"

You make the plans for action and realizing you don’t have people who can help you get the ideas through the front door to be heard.

Solution: "I know somebody who knows somebody"

Make sure that you have involved people in the conversations that can help move actions ahead.


2. "Why, there oughta be a law..."

Assume elected officials will read your recommendations and act because you are good people.

Solution: Keep them involved from the start

Treat elected officials as possible allies rather than getting at odds up front. Figure out how they can help and look good.


3. "Oh, you again"

The same old worn out crowd shows up to talk about why it failed in ’43.

Solution: "New actions. Hell, how about some new actors!"

If you want more to happen, involve people and groups who are ready to work, have new ideas, are energized and hopeful.


4. "Sorry, I have to work tomorrow"

Rely solely on the time and resources of the volunteers in the room.  When the planning is over, they have limited time to act.

Solution: Partner with people and organizations

Make sure you have an organization that can help convene meetings, keep mailing lists, and provide assistance.  Partner with someone whose work benefits from your solutions.


5. “Let’s get some people we know to plan”

The group we know is the same race, the same age, and/or those typically in charge.  “Don’t worry, we all mean well.”

Solution: Get a diverse group of people involved from the beginning

Involve people of different racial backgrounds, ages, and political beliefs from the start.  It is hard to sell your vision to those excluded from early decisions. Take steps to understand the power of race and assumptions.


6. "This is work!"

This is serious business, now get back to work.

Solution: "Yahoo! Get down tonight - we did it!"

When you make headway, complete a milestone, or surprise yourself with success, Eat, Drink, and Be Merry.  Write it up and tell the world.



photo credit Svilen001


Sign Up for Email Updates!Wasn't that helpful? Sign up for more tips like this one

Connecticut Civic Ambassadors are everyday people who care about and engage others in their communities by creating opportunities for civic participation that strengthens our state’s "civic health."

Dialogue to Change

Our ultimate goal is to create positive community change that includes everyone, and our tools, advice, and resources foster that kind of change. Whether you’re grappling with a divisive community issue, or simply want to include residents’ voices in city government, Everyday Democracy's Dialogue to Change process, using a racial equity lens, can help.