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How Change Happens: Reading Recs


How do we make change? What might changes in the future look like? This zine, edited by Adam Greenhall, collects 50+ books that have shifted the way he's thought about those questions.

In the books recommended here, there are some patterns of change. Sometimes movements work to make change over many years, sometimes revolution breaks out seemingly overnight. The ideas for change can emerge from outsider societies on the fringes of culture, or power and money can drive change. Compounding problems building over years and the feeling of constant precarity can push a society toward change. Change can emerge from within the system itself, but more often the powerful fight against change to the bitter end. Change doesn’t necessarily have a consistent long-term direction, as becomes clearer in looking at the history of early changes and experimentation in humanity’s past. And change isn’t always positive — sometimes it takes the forms of unraveling and collapse.

These books and the stories within them are a mix of history of past changes, our current pressures and problems, and some positive visions of the future. If there is any single source of change, it is the imagination. As one of the authors here says “most Americans have been taught since a very young age to have extremely limited political horizons, an extremely narrow sense of human possibility”. Hopefully this reading list can help you also to expand your horizons and imagine a wider set of possibilities for the future.