Anatomy of a Movement

Throughout this past year, we have been helping a group of people work toward an intention of promoting a proliferation of collegiate recovery models across the country which would result in elevating the efforts behind the Young Adult Recovery Movement to a place of priority on our national agenda. The work has invited us to ratify our opinion on how “movements” happen, and how people can go from being a committed group of advocates to becoming a sea of activism.

Here is our opinion:

At the beginning of every movement we have studied, there is a committed group of Organizers who have a picture of a future that is different than the present.

These Organizers come together to clarify and declare their cause—why this is a compelling future—and they invite others to join.

As people gather, the movement builds not from the worthiness of the cause, although that is important, rather from the connections they make with others who believe in the cause.

It is these relationships, bound by an empathic pursuit of helping others, that inspire people to spread new ideas and habits within their social circles.

Movements aren’t about people suddenly deciding to all stand and face in the same direction. They are about social patterns of friendship that influence new patterns in our communities.

The sustainability of any civil right or liberty has come about because we have fundamentally changed the way we behave in our communities to safeguard individual freedoms.

And, here is an expression of that opinion as delivered at the 3rd National Collegiate Recovery Conference last March on the campus of Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, GA:

Empowering a Recovery Generation