Action Guide > Action

Once you are engaged in a process of thoughtful preparation, you must decide
what kind of action you will take to address the need/social problem that you
have identified. In thinking about action, it is important to consider the different
modes of activity that could have an impact. We have organized civic action
into five modes, represented by the acronym SPACE:

It is important to note that although service-learning can certainly consist of direct service, any of these five modes would be appropriate action in a service learning framework.

In this chapter, we will examine each of these five paths in depth. For each path, we will explain and define the term, list some well-known practitioners and organizations that employ this methodology, and suggest some books and resources for more in-depth study. Each path concludes with profiles of young Jews who have made a positive impact on their world by employing that particular technique.

Before examining each path in depth, we will offer some brief definitions and
examples:

Direct service is hands-on. It’s what we usually think of first when we talk
about volunteering. Visiting someone who is sick or elderly, tutoring a student,
cleaning up a beach, and stocking cans at the food pantry are all examples of
meeting a need immediately through direct service.

Philanthropy means giving money to support projects or organizations that address a need or a problem. Philanthropy recognizes that most serious social problems in our world cannot be solved by individual direct service alone and that, in many cases, there may already be organizations that are addressing the problem we have identified, but simply need additional resources to get the job done. Often, raising money for larger scale projects is necessary.

Advocacy uses argument and persuasion to achieve a particular action or change. Often advocacy is directed specifically toward public officials to persuade them to pass a piece of legislation that can directly impact on the social problem you have identified. Advocacy can also educate the general public to effect a change in behavior – to stop smoking or to buy fair-trade coffee, for example. Advocacy efforts can also be directed at businesses and corporations.

Community organizing is a strategy to pursue justice for the less-powerful by developing a strong, democratic organization whose power comes from the numbers and mutual commitment of its members. Community organizers build consensus among those facing a social problem and then helps those citizens leverage their numbers to pressure public officials to take action to resolve the issue at hand.

Social entrepreneurs have many of the same skills as business entrepreneurs, but instead of affecting the financial or technological world, they are focused on addressing social problems. Social ventures are begun by one person or a small group with an idea of how to address a specific need. Some social enterprises are not-for-profit organizations. Others are businesses that incorporrate a social mission such as training and employing people who are poor and unskilled or creating and selling a product that preserves the environment.

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