Five Years of Systems Change Consulting

Five years ago this month, I launched Systems Change Consulting. My goal then and now, is to provide consulting and training to individuals, non-profits, and public entities with a focus on making progressive systems change in the areas of civil rights, disability rights, general and special education, and combating abuse and neglect of vulnerable populations.

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I am pleased with what I have accomplished to date, although the state of our local, state, national, and international affairs means that I have a lot more work to do. While I continue to provide training and consulting to non-profits and public entities, a significant portion of my work involves individual representation. However, even when representing individuals, my clients usually retain me because they appreciate that when I represent them, I often try to leverage the results in their case into larger progressive systems change to help others. They often tell me that they are retaining me because they do not want anyone else to suffer as they or their children have suffered, which is the essence of systems change.

Early on in this venture, one of my best friends suggested that I start a blog. Initially, I dismissed his suggestion, but in October, 2012, I decided that he was right and that this blog could be another vehicle for systems change. Little did I know that nearly 5 years after launching this blog, I would have written 235 posts, and that my blog be viewed nearly 40,000 times in close to 120 countries all over the world. A review of my 10 most viewed posts gives a snapshot on the wide array of issues in which I have engaged over these past 5 years. You can read them by clicking on the title.

  1. Disrespectful Justice: discusses an appalling view of our legal system as presented by Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley.
  2. Special Needs Voucher Scam Fully Revealed: in which I expose how special needs school vouchers are really a scam.
  3. The Morning After…the Sun Still Rises: which reminds us that even after bad election results, we have accomplished a lot and will continue to accomplish more.
  4. Welcoming the Homeless to Our Neighborhood: describing a proposed homeless day resource center in my neighborhood, which I am pleased to report is about to finally open, albeit in a location about a mile away from where it was originally proposed.
  5. Building Community: Now More than Ever: reminding readers that in order to improve our world, we need to focus locally and build community.
  6. Wisconsin’s New Law on the use of Seclusion and Restraint of School Children: points out all the protections we achieved when we passed Wisconsin’s first law to protect school children from the inappropriate use of seclusion and restraint.
  7. Building Community through Queerness: in which I describe how my niece and her partner created community with family and friends through their open queerness.
  8. If it Ain’t Broke…: in which I use words of a dearly departed young man to urge us not to fall into complacency.
  9. Sun Prairie Police Brutality Case Headed to Trial: it turns out that I settled this police abuse case on behalf of my middle school age client before trial.
  10. Key Protections for Students with Disabilities: describes critical protections by students with disabilities issues by the Obama administration which advocates will need to fight to preserve under the current administration.

In addition to my blog, I also used the media to accomplish systems change. My most recent articles include (click on title to read article):

I have often joked that I wish the world was a place in which my work was no longer necessary. Sadly, I do not expect that to happen in my lifetime, so I continue to roll up my sleeves and work for progressive systems change, using every tool in my varied arsenal.

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For more information on how Jeff Spitzer-Resnick can help you accomplish effective, progressive systems change contact him by visiting his web site: Systems Change Consulting.

 

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If Not Now…

One of the most revered Jewish sages, Hillel, famously asked three important questions that continue to have relevance to this day:

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?

If I am only for myself, what am I?

If not now, when?

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Every one of us should ask our selves all three of these questions on a regular basis. The first question reminds us to take care of ourselves, as while empathy for others is important, failing to engage in self-care and self-advocacy will ultimately result in an inability to thrive as a human being and care for those who matter most.

The second question reminds us that those who engage in purely selfish behavior must ask themselves why they are on this planet as their purpose cannot simply be to ignore others to simply engage in self serving behavior.

The third question is a call to action. Specifically, it challenges each and every person who may be tired of the endless bickering of politicians and pundits that if you are not prepared to take action now, when will you do so?

Hillel’s questions have inspired a movement which calls itself If Not Now which is dedicated to ending American Jewish support for the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. It is a non-violent movement striving to win the hearts and minds of the Jewish community.

As important as ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories is, Hillel’s questions go far beyond any one specific issue. Regardless of one’s background, we live in communities, nations and indeed, an entire world that demands that no one sit on the sidelines.

Of course, many may lament the state of the world but simply not know what they can do to change it for the better. Indeed, nobody can engage in every single issue that seemingly cry out for our help every day. In fact, doing so, will result in violating Hillel’s first question as those who try to fix everything ultimately fail to take care of themselves and will end by crashing and burning.

If you are inspired by Hillel’s message and want to take action, but you are unsure of where to start, I suggest taking the following steps:

  1. Identify an issue that you really care about;
  2. Find an organization that is working on the issue you care about in a way that resonates with your values;
  3. See if that organization needs volunteers, and if it does not, or you are unable to volunteer, donate funds within your means to help the organization do its work; and
  4. Support candidates who seek to make the positive changes in the world that are consistent with your values. This can include volunteering for the candidates, sending donations to help their campaigns, and remembering to vote.

While I have spent my entire career doing my best to follow Hillel’s sage wisdom, I understand that for many, it is difficult. There are many challenges that we all face: personal, emotional, financial, and in today’s world, simply a feeling of helplessness due to the overwhelming nature of need. My advice to those who feel frozen in inaction is to start small. Just pick one issue to work on. Ask yourself every day,

what am I doing to make the lives of others just a little bit better?

We all have the ability to lend a helping hand to a neighbor, vote for a candidate who represents our values, or provide support to a charitable organization doing good work. This will not only help improve your community and the world, but it will make you feel better about yourself and less of a victim of those powerful forces which degrade our world on a daily basis. Doing so will allow you to answer all three of Hillel’s questions in a positive manner.

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For more information on how I can help you accomplish effective, progressive systems change contact Jeff Spitzer-Resnick by visiting his website: Systems Change Consulting.