Making Social Change

But in college, a trillion years ago, I studied social policy, creative and critical writing and feminism. It was a make-your-own major kind of school (Hampshire ). I loved it because even back then I couldn’t decide if I wanted to be a social worker, an activist or a writer.

I thought I had to make a choice.

I couldn’t make that choice.

I still can’t make that choice.

Direct care is important. Social policy is crucial. Writing is as necessary as water. How on earth could I spend my time and energy in a way that would make a difference?

Back then I wasn’t so wondered about also paying the rent. But besides that, these are the basic questions I’m always asking.

Free-lance writers are often paid – well… nothing. And it’s not a figure of speech. Sometimes a story pays zilch or $20. or $50. And if you have to pay the bills, it’s virtually impossible to do interviews, in-depth profiles or to seek out input from experts for the joy, passion and meaning. I mean I’ve done and more than once or twice but it does eventually get exhausting and it’s not sustainable.

And it also impacts journalism and the stories that are covered and are told and who is able to tell them. And this is one of the reason that there are a lot of first-person essays and pieces of writing. Those are often ones many of us are compelled to write whether or not we are paid. And we don’t need to research or fact check or get background. Often, some memory or experience or insight is the story and we are the source and the storyteller. And while these first-person essays are necessary too – they also matter.

And they are actual writing which is deserving of actual pay.

As my friend Heidi said, “You mean you can’t just pay your bills in hugs and likes?” and I’m like, “I tried but my mortgage company doesn’t share the value of writing for platform or meaning.”

So, when I get the chance to do a story using my critical writing skills (dust. dust. dust) it’s a treat. To get paid for the time and for it to be considered work – it feels like winning the lottery. It shouldn’t. But it does. Such is the state of writing.

I LOVED the research and the fact checking, the interviewing and the weaving. I loved getting help with editing and being able to share the work of an amazing human being.

And to then get to share it on a site I worship that’s about a topic (ACE = adverse childhood experiences) – it’s so good.

Class issues. Poverty. Race issues. Adversity. The well-being of children and families and the need for policies that work, protect and promote well-being….

It matters. These issues matter. They are all of our issues.


I see now why some people are called inspired and inspiring. I met one of them and she is a force.

“The Aces movement is filled with pioneers. There are physicians, professors and researchers who treat, teach and study. There are leaders of non-profits who partner with individuals, neighborhoods and organizations. Volunteers who give time. Experts who draw on wisdom gained in academia, clinical practice, community work and personal experience.

But rarely does one person do all of these things while parenting three children under the age of thirteen.

Meet Dr. Renée Boynton-Jarrett. She does all of these things. Pediatrician, social epidemiologist, university professor, parent, and advocate for integrating the new science of human development in communities to help them become healthier.” HeaderRead more here…

You Matter Mantras

  • Trauma sucks. You don't.
  • Write to express not to impress.
  • It's not trauma informed if it's not informed by trauma survivors.
  • Breathing isn't optional.

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