A Handbook for Changing Our World
Edited by The Trapese Collective

'A Radical Guide to Ethical and Sustainable Living'

Climate change, resource wars, privatisation, the growing gap between rich and poor, politicians that don't listen. Massive issues, but how can we make any difference?

This book shows how
It's not a book about what's wrong with the world, but a collection of dynamic ideas which explore how we can build radical and meaningful social change, ourselves, here and now. Covering nine themes, the book weaves together analysis, stories and experiences. It combines in-depth analytical chapters followed by easy to follow "How to Guides" with practical ideas for organising collectively for change.

Do It Yourself is part of a growing response from the global social justice movement. Written and edited by activists and grassroots campaigners from across the world, the book reflects on their experiments in taking back control of their lives from governments and corporations.

The Handbook for Changing Our World is the first book to be published by Pluto Press under the ground breaking Creative Commons license allowing greater rights for non commercial uses.

"This is not a book about what is wrong with
the world (there are many fantastic books out there that do that already) It's about what we can all do about the challenges we face in the world and how we can make governments and corporations increasingly irrelevant.

Whats in the book?
The eighteen chapters weave together analysis, personal stories and examples of various everyday movements for change. The idea is not to dictate how things should be done but provide examples of places, ideas, ways of organising and inventions for you to do it yourself.

For each theme of the book there are two distinct chapters: THEORY, introduces the theme, its histories, ideas, problems and pitfalls, and PRACTICAL 'how to'
guides to turn some of these ideas into reality.

Resources are given at the end of each theme.

The book is a call to action and reflection. A handbook isn't enough to take back control but it's a starting point to get involved with people, networks and movements of resistance, inspiring creativity

Why we need holistic solutions for a world in crisis
That we are living within a rapidly escalating ecological, social, political, and economic crisis, is beyond doubt. What we are going to do about it is less certain. This chapter examines existing, easy to implement and inspiring approaches that we can use to both improve the environment and the lives we lead, drawing on the holistic approach of permaculture in particular as a mechanism in creating change. It looks at four examples: an urban eco home, a rural eco village, a protest camp and responding to emergency situations.

"It doesn't really matter where you start. Follow your curiosity and passion, make it part of your life with practical action and steady learning. There are thousands of organisations and groups to connect with, many simple practical steps you can make right now. There's not a moment to lose, it's more fun than TV, and infinitely better than putting up with business as usual."

Author:Andy Goldring is a permaculture teacher, designer, member of Leeds Permaculture Network and co-coordinator of the Permaculture Association (Britain). Additional material supplied by Starhawk.

How to get off the grid

This chapter looks not only at appropriate technologies but also at things we can do in our lives and homes, today, that move us towards disconnecting ourselves from the centralised grid and providing for ourselves and communities. It is divided into three sections focusing on energy, waste and water.

Micro-generation: Hayboxes: maintaining temperatures and storing food solar showers, compost toilets, grey water system, water filtering at home.

"Reducing the amount of energy or water we use, doesn't necessarily mean a reduction in the standard of living - it means using our common sense, consuming responsibly, thinking about our actions and putting back into the earth what we take out."

Bryce Gilroy-Scott has worked and studied at the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), Wales. Additional material was provided by Starhawk, writer, activist, trainer and permaculture designer.

Climate Camp
Energy descent

Why do it without leaders

'No one is more qualified than you are to decide what your life will be.'

We are all, to some extent, controlled by others who don't understand or care about our wants and needs - managers, landlords, city councils, creditors, police courts, and politicians. How do we break out of this system of control, where we all, willingly or unwillingly, exert power over others, forcing them into actions they'd rather not do?
One solution is to challenge and provide alternatives to the rules, leaders and hierarchies that largely direct our daily lives and shape the way our societies function. We need to develop a different understanding of power - where people work with each other rather than seeking to control and command. And we need to find ways of relating to each other without hierarchy and leaders.

What's wrong with leaders? Consensus decision making, creating societies without leaders, case studies, HoriZone ecovillage and Zapatista autonomous municipalities

Making decisions by consensus

This chapter provides a detailed guide for using consensus in groups. The tools described are based on decades of experience in groups such as housing and workers' co-operatives. With commitment, they really do work and making decisions by consensus can be the bedrock of transforming our world and our relationships with each other.

The consensus process, participatory budgets,dealing with disagreement in consensus facilitating, common problems and how to overcome them, tools for meetings, consensus in large groups

Seeds for Change are a UK based collective of activist trainers providing training for grassroots campaign groups. They also develop resources on consensus, facilitation and taking action, all of which are available on their website

Blatant Incitement Project
Rant Collective

Why society is making us sick

This chapter is about how we need to change society and our relations with others in order to improve our health. While our industrialised capitalist societies have brought some enormous improvements in health, we also need to look at how they constrain it and how a centralised and corporate influenced medical profession has reduced our ability to manage our own health.

The loss of traditional medical knowledge, our interaction with our health, autonomous health, self-help, skill sharing, developing a political consciousness, direct action and self-organization

How to manage our own health

Full of practical information this chapter looks at the history, role and how to set up and run a health collective. It also provides information on home use remedies for everyday ailments and illnesses and looks at how best to deal with and interact with medical institutions.

Tash Gordon lives in Leeds, UK where she works in an inner-city GP practice.
Becs Griffiths has been part of a feminist health collective and studies herbal medicine

Bay Area Radical Health Collective
Black Cross
Common Ground Health Collective

Why we still have a lot to learn

This chapter looks at the importance of education in bringing about social change, and indeed how social movements for change have popular education at their core.

"Education, and in particular popular education, is vital to respond to the ecological, social and climatic crises we face and to achieve meaningful radical social change. An education where we relearn co-operation and responsibility that is critically reflective but creatively looks forward - an education that is popular, of and from the people.
Popular education which aims at getting people to understand their world around them, so they can take back control collectively, understand their world, intervene in it, and transform it."

Key aspects and examples, comparing educational systems, a history of popular education, popular education in action, where now for popular education?

How to inspire change through learning

This how to guide provides information on setting up and organising workshops as well as tips, games, reflections and experiences from a variety of different groups that work using popular education methodologies to inspire, inform and enable people to take action in their lives.

Getting organised, designing the workshop, exercises for social change, collective learning, using visual activities, debates, planning for action

The Trapese Popular Education Collective work with groups of adults and young people to understand and take action on issues including climate change, globalisation and migration. They also produce educational resources and promote participatory, interactive learning through training and skill-shares (see

Catalyst Centre
Centre for Pop Ed

Why we are what we eat

This chapter explores a range of possibilities and projects that lend themselves both as inspirational examples and real and viable options in changing how and what we eat.

"To take a step away from the grip of capitalism and in order to free ourselves from being passive consumers who are alienated from nature, we must learn how to nourish ourselves and our movements. Developing food sovereignty and taking back control of what we eat have become vital and important routes for action."

Corporate control,environmental impacts, resistance is fertile, growing communities, community food projects, sustainable and organic agriculture, food co-operatives
cooking collectives and community kitchens

How to set up a community garden
This guide is for anyone, anywhere who has walked past a derelict bit of land or has seen an empty allotment and imagined... what if it were full of life and activity?

"To reduce our ecological footprints, then we will have to redesign both our urban and rural spaces to maximise food production. Below the concrete there is a garden!"

Ways of getting people involved, design ideas workshop, mulching, crop rotation, companion planting, building a compost bin.

Alice Cutler and Kim Bryan both campaign and facilitate educational projects around permaculture, community gardens, climate change and sustainability issues.

International Movement for Food Sovereignty
American Community Gardening Association

Why we need cultural activism

"This chapter is about cultural activism and I explain this isn't just about making things pretty, fluffy or fun. Cultural activists are taking direct action against war, ecological destruction, injustice and capitalism, but they are also constantly asking how we can act directly against their social and psychological effects. After all, who can really know what it is that really inspires an individual to care, or to turn away, to give up or to rise up? Cultural activism is where art, activism, performance and politics meet, mingle and interact."

What is cultural activism? insurrectionary imagination, how has cultural activism worked out in practice over the years and in different places? rebel clowning.


Jennifer Verson is a freelance performance activist from the USA who trains people in the art of politically subversive theatrical performances.

How to prank, play and subvert the system

When we think about creativity we don't mean paint and canvas, bright costumes or painting your face. And by images we don't just mean photographs. What we feel is important is what our stories do and how they are framed. Is the story moving? Is the experience aesthetically pleasing? This may seem a trivial question as global meltdown approaches ever faster. But, these days the battles happens more in the mental environment of advertising space and public relations trickery than in the streets.

Four stories to inspire and motivate.
Story 1: Shop Lifting With The Church Of Stop Shopping
Story 2: The Church Of The Immaculate Consumption
Praying To Products
Story 3: Nikeground - Guerrilla Marketing Or Collective hallucination
Story 4: Dow Chemicals Correction

Author; The Vacuum Cleaner are an artist activist collective of one based in Glasgow, Scotland.

Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination
Rebel Clown Army

Why we have to Reclaim the Commons

The next time you're walking through the city centre, have a good look around. Look again. What do you see? A mass of corporate chain pubs, fashion boutiques and supermarkets? A public library about to close. Imagine there is one building out of place, you go in here's a cafe but instead of overpriced latte and paninis, there's wholesome food for 'whatever you can afford'. There are political magazines and flyers advertising a daring 'direct action' tomorrow night. People are clustered around free internet terminals, while others are browsing the library. Who owns this amazing place?' you ask the person behind the counter. 'Well, we all do,' she replies.

In this chapter,the Authors discuss the crucial role that fighting for such autonomous spaces can play today in both resisting global capitalism and helping us to develop viable alternatives to the private profit system.

Struggling for the commons, a history of autonomous spaces, the role, uses and distibution of social centres.

How to set up autonomous spaces

This chapter shows you how you can take back control, if only in a small way, of the places where you live by setting up an autonomous self-managed space - a social centre, info shop, resource centre or community cafe. Containing concrete advice on how to open, organise and maintain these spaces and vital information for those who aim to squat, rent and buy properties to turn into autonomous spaces. This chapter draws on the lived realities and experiences from people involved in setting up numerous different types of social centres in the UK and Ireland.

Making a plan, squatting, buying or renting, setting up a company and making a business plan, getting in, setting up, idea and activities, moving on

Paul Chatterton and Stuart Hodkinson are both involved the Common Place social centre in Leeds, UK (see


Diggers & Dreamers Guide to Communal Living

Advisory Service for Squatters

UK Social Centres Network

Why we need to reclaim the media

In this chapter Irish indymedia journalist, Chekov Feeny examines the ideas behind what is variously described as alternative, independent or DIY media. This type of media can be differentiated from the mainstream not only through the points of view of those who produce it - although it typically carries a much more radical message but more importantly by the model in which it operates - a model which aims to democratise the process of information production and distribution, a model which aims to allow anybody, regardless of colour, class, gender or how powerful they are to tell their story and to distribute it to a wide audience.

" In the age of accessibility, the potential of creating our own media, shouting with our own voices, telling our own stories can be realised. We don't have to rely on the moguls to tell us about the world. We can get our stories from our neighbours and from other people in struggle all over the world. We have the power to describe the world as it is and we can put aside the ideological blinkers which power would put over our eyes. We don't have to hate the media, we can be the media."

The crisis of the mainstream media model, a history of radical media, the explosion of Indymedia, potentials and pitfalls

Chekov Feeney is part of the Irish Indymedia collective ( and writes a regular column for the weekly Village Magazine (

How to communicate beyond TV

From inspiring collaborative media projects such as community newsletters, spoof newspapers, participatory video, community film screenings and a whole host more of ideas this chapter provides step by step guides to building, creating and distributing different types of media. Aimed at creating community awareness,our own media is a vital element to make sure our messages, ideas and initiatives get out there.


Setting up community newsletters, spoof Newspapers, running particiaptory video workshops, hosting community film screenings

Mick Fuzz is a Manchester based media activist who has worked extensively with video and multi media projects at community and international levels.


Clearer Channel

Global indymedia network:

Creative commons licenses:

Why we need to take direct action

Direct Action has been an important part of political activism and a vital catalyst in struggles for social justice. Instead of making demands of the authorities, people across the world have always, and continue to place their bodies and their freedom in the way of power - to say No, Ya Basta, Enough!

"It is when people refuse to sit down on a plane deporting an asylum seeker; detainees go on hunger strike to demand release and an end to inhumane conditions; instead of marching against war, people occupy an oil company's headquarters, people occupy and restore empty buildings in response to the lack of affordability of housing and speculation, or blockade a train carrying nuclear waste."

When people come together they start feeling that there are ways of changing the world and supporting each other based on principles different from profit and power. This chapter looks at the role direct action has played in shaping society and its potential as a tool for social change.

How to build active campaigns

This chapter is focused on building actions and campaigns that are about empowerment, self management and mutual aid - doing it ourselves. Whilst most campaigns also depend a great deal on spontaneity, creativity and large amounts of luck, this guide brings together different aspects from numerous different campaigns to explores key aspects to consider in creating and running an effective campaign.

Aims and ideas, getting people involved, organization and planning, dealing with the Media, problems and trouble shooting , legal issues.

Kim Bryan, Paul Chatterton and Alice Cutler have been involved in direct action and campaigning around a variety of issues.


The Ruckus Society

Earth First


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