What we do at Actuality Abroad hinges on the existence of changemakers.

Changemakers are individuals or organizations who develop innovative and sustainable solutions to chronic social or environmental problems found in their communities. Some changemakers shift the course of human development, earning them international recognition and a permanent place in our histories. Our culture celebrates people like Maya Angelou, Nelson Mandela, Greta Thunberg, Mohammed Yunus, Rachel Carson, Martin Luther King Jr, Eva Peron, and Malala Yousafzai.

Yet, much more often, changemakers are known only in their own communities. Locals recognize them as experts, leaders or visionaries who are devoted to making their corner of the world a better place.

Actuality Abroad was founded years ago with the intention of telling stories about these local changemakers. For a decade we focused on organizing small groups of student filmmakers to travel to learn from changemakers around the world, to then share their work with a wider audience through documentary storytelling.

You can watch many of the films here, but in this new era of Actuality our focus has turned to encouraging more kinds of travelers to have experiences with changemakers – not just hear their stories.

Now – every time we travel we find changemakers to learn from. Our intention is to understand their individual journey, honor their knowledge and know-how, and then carry their willingly shared wisdom back home. It turns out that meeting and mentoring under a community’s most brilliant citizens is quite a meaningful way to get to know a place.

So, what does this look like in practice?

  • Hike the rainforest with the leader of a reforesting organization and find out more about the impact of intentional agroforestry systems.
  • Take a village tour of a cooperative coffee company that is run out of the modest homes of its members, and learn about the actual economics of fair trade.
  • Enroll in a breakdance class with local youth who have created a safe haven from gang activity through their involvement in a community art center.
  • Purchase souvenirs in the workshops of master artisans who learned the intricate craft from their ancestors and are determined to keep the tradition alive.
  • Ride along with solar energy engineers from a social enterprise as they make a round of community visits to evaluate how their appropriate technology is being used.

There are changemakers everywhere, all over the world. Think about your own community. Who is using their work to make the neighborhood a little more just, conscious, compassionate or beautiful? Who inspires you with their ideas of what could be? These are the changemakers. Even if their circle of influence is small…change creates ripples.

Wherever we go, let’s find the changemakers. This is how we learn to know better, do better and become the people we were meant to be.

Image by Tim Mossholder