The Systems Work of Social Change is written by authors Cynthia Rayner and François Bonnici – both UCT GSB Adjunct Faculty, as well as student and staff alumni – and is published by Oxford University Press. The book argues that if we want to change social systems, it is perhaps self-evident that we need to approach things in a “radically different way”; but to do so requires us first to understand things in a radically different way.
The Systems Work of Social Change: How to Harness Connection, Context, and Power to Cultivate Deep and Enduring Change The Systems Work of Social Change: How to Harness Connection, Context, and Power to Cultivate Deep and Enduring Change
Below is an extract from the Systems Work book on RLABS who are creating systems change through their amazing work and how giving hope can go viral.
Late one evening in 2006, Brent Williams returned to his parents’ house after a three-day binge. He went to the kitchen, rummaged around in the cutlery drawer, grabbed a knife, and headed to his parents’ bedroom. High and hallucinating, he wasn’t fully aware of what he was doing, but he had decided that he needed to make a name for himself—killing his mother seemed like a good way to get some attention.
His mom recalls it vividly. “I don’t know if he was aware it was Mother’s Day, but this was the day. And I thought, God help me, I need to do something. I think the cat was in his way, he kicked the cat and at that time I got my getaway . . . I think I was faster than him that day.”
Brent and his parents live in Bridgetown, a suburb on the Cape Flats of Cape Town known as “apartheid’s dumping ground.” Access to education, jobs, and opportunities is limited: too often, kids drop out of school, get involved with gangs, and become drug addicts and dealers. Brent started using drugs at the age of twenty-one, and moved on to selling them at the age of twenty-three.