“Oh, cool! So, uh, what's it about?”
That's the usual response when I tell people I'm editing a new section of openDemocracy titled “Transformation: where love meets social justice”.
At first my tactic was to reply, as if with great confidence, “Oh, you know. Radical change. Social justice, that sort of thing.”
Secretly, though, I wasn't sure what transformational writing would actually look like.
But it's clear that our authors have had no such trouble. Over the past few weeks exciting, exploratory articles have started to trickle in. It is clear that the activists, journalists and academics writing for us have deeply engaged with – not to mention coming up with their own - ideas about what it means to transform both societies and ourselves. Alongside imagining a better future, our writers also discuss the work they are already doing to enact transformation.
We officially launch on July 1, but here's some of what to expect from our first few weeks: former OurKingdom editor Niki Seth-Smith writing on whether love can be a force for social change when cultural ideals of romance are so stunted; Fox News commentator Sally Kohn exploring whether common civility can play a role in the most uncivil of realms: the internet; social justice veteran Scot Nakagawa and Gail Christopher, vice president of the Kellogg Foundation, discussing what racial healing might look like.
We'll also be publishing a variety of content: videos, podcasts and photography. Look out for “Everyday Stories”: a selection of short films uncovering the lives of people who are acting to create radical change in their communities. And we kick off a series of in-depth interviews with prominent transformative figures, from U.S. Congressman Tim Ryan to leading scholar Judith Butler.
Bringing together the personal and the political elements of change into one process is a tricky job, but (we think) it's one that is essential to the fundamental restructuring of societies that Transformation explores. Combine this with a sincere commitment to love and social justice and you have the essence of what Transformation will be about.
In order to tie these abstract approaches to the pragmatic – to what actually happens at grassroots level – our writers will use these frameworks to explore what possibilities for transformation there are within politics, economics, activism, society and ourselves (just to keep the focus really narrow).
In his official introduction to Transformation, editor Mike Edwards writes:
“Marrying a rich inner life dedicated to the cultivation of loving kindness and compassion with the practice of new forms of politics, economics and social activism is the key to transformation, but how this will actually work is anybody’s guess. Those who think they already have the answers waiting to be rolled out in detail are either fools or liars, for this is a path that demands a huge amount of rigor, effort, self-criticism and patience. Transformation is not another good-news magazine, but a place to engage with each-other about the realities and struggles of the radical imagination.”
Transformation is coming. It represents a leap into the unknown, a pre-figurative consideration of what might, what could, happen if people were to throw off the constraints of the conventional in order to remake their societies. It involves a journey into the best world we can create. Are you ready?