As we begin this work, we’re eager to build a strong and healthy culture right from the start, one that makes Third Act productive and even kind of joyful for those involved. (The more fun it is, the more we’ll get done). Here are some early suggestions: we’ve already begun to modify them based on the feedback we got here. We’ll probably modify them more as time goes on, so feel free to send more feedback in the comments at that link — we’re following it closely.

1) Be kind

We work for progressive change with conviction and vigor, but without aggression or bitterness. That means all of our work is nonviolent (the nonviolence pioneered by people like Gandhi, King, and the suffragists is one of the great gifts from the 20th century). And that nonviolence extends to the ways we communicate and, hopefully, to the ways we think. In the words of those campaigners who stood up for civil rights in Birmingham in 1963, we will refrain from “violence of the fist, tongue, or heart.” We don’t need to be nice, but we do need to be kind.

2) Be humble (a little)

We work confidently, but with a certain humility: the partisan and ideological hatreds of recent years are making our country ugly in unfamiliar ways, and we don’t want to add to them. In particular, while we make use of the internet and social media to spread our message, we try to do it in ways that don’t damage what’s left of the social fabric. And if we have conflicts with each other, we’ll try to approach them directly, but not aggressively, confident that we’re all still capable of change.

3) Be inclusive—really!

We know that there are unhealthy and unjust patterns in our society, and that history may make them especially powerful in our generations—so we strive to make sure that as we do our work, differences of race, gender, or other markers of identity make us stronger. When we find ourselves falling into those old patterns, we make a real effort to get out of them, allowing people of every kind to lead and guide.

4) Boost others!

We hope we’re past the point where ego and ambition guide our work, but since we’re human we guard against them as best we can. We know it’s not healthy to have the loudest voices dominate our efforts; we try to spread responsibility and leadership.

5) Take care of yourself

We know, better than those who are younger, that there’s no time to waste. But we also know that there are limits to our effectiveness. Sometimes we’ll have to work harder and deal with more stress than is healthy—so we will look for opportunities to relax and take care of our health. And we will watch our colleagues to make sure they have the help they need. We need to keep learning, and to educate ourselves—that’s part of the pleasure of this work, and we’ll try to provide those opportunities. But part of our work is simply to enjoy the world around us—and so we celebrate victories, lift up effort, offer support.

6) Back up the youths!

We understand that our generations, taken as a whole, have helped create some of the troubles we now face. We think we have important roles to play in dealing with those troubles—but we also know that one of our big and joyful jobs is to support younger people leading movements for environmental and social justice. They often ask for support, not direction, and that’s what we should provide.

7) Be generous, but not to a fault!

We know that it takes financial resources to help power this work, but we also know that many of us live on fixed incomes. No one should give money they can’t afford; everyone should understand that most of all we need volunteer support.

8) Be accountable

We are all capable people—but we know our effectiveness is multiplied when we work together. We acknowledge that local and affinity working groups have a superior sense of what messages will work in their communities, but we also agree to take guidance from the central office of Third Act on campaigns and themes, and to supply that central office with feedback on what works best.

9) Be creative!

We work, as best we can, in good humor, good faith, and good cheer, recognizing that art and music have a serious role to play in making change. We realize that the problems we work on may not be solved in our lifetimes, but we know that our lives can help move us in the right direction.

10) We’re all in this together

We know that absolutely everyone has a role to play, all the way through their lives. That’s how a movement works, and it’s what a movement means.

A senior couple laughing at the camera

The time is now.
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