Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Charlie Creates a Movement in the Caucasus Mountains

Charlie, enjoying a quiet moment in our hotel, Shatili Tower.
In his excellent TedTalk on creating a movement, Derek Sivers illustrates how a ‘lone nut,’ in this case a crazy dancing guy at an outdoor concert, can become the leader of a movement. In the video, a man starts out dancing wildly on his own, but soon finds himself in the middle of an ecstatic crowd mimicking his moves. 

I often showed this video when lecturing on social action in my Introduction to Sociology class. On a visit to the Republic of Georgia, I got to see this process in real life.  I watched my friend Charlie, a community newspaper writer and editor from a small town in New Hampshire, create a movement. From a 'lone nut' moving rocks by hand on a washed-out mountain road, Charlie became a leader. Stranded but newly motivated strangers followed his lead, bent down alongside him, and moved rocks by hand. In the end, stone-by-stone, we all got home.