The Social Change Ecosystem Map is a framework that can help individuals, networks, and  organizations


In our lives and as part of organizations, workplaces and movements, many of us play different  roles in pursuit of equity, shared liberation, inclusion, and justice. And yet, we often get  overwhelmed, lost, and burned out. Some of us are newcomers to ongoing social change efforts and don’t know where to start. Still others are catalyzed into action in the midst of a crisis in our  community. 

The Social Change Ecosystem Map is a framework that can help individuals, networks, and  organizations align with social change values, individual roles, and the broader ecosystem.

What you’re reading now is the most current version of the social change map, first developed in  2018 and then renewed in 2020 by BMP’s Director of Movement Building, Deepa Iyer. Below  you’ll find a Frequently Asked Questions section. Following that are the three components of the  framework: the map, the description of roles, and a reflection guide.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who developed the framework? 

My name is Deepa Iyer, and I’m a writer, facilitator, and activist. Learn more about the original  concept of the social change ecosystem map that I developed in 2018 here. As I utilized the  framework with others, it began to evolve; see more about that here. You’re working with the  most current version of the framework (October 2020).

What are the components of the framework?

The map, the description of the roles, and the reflection guide can all be found in this document. If  you’d like to access individual components, you can find them here.

How do I use this framework?

It’s a three-step process: (1) identify your values and cause in the middle circle; (2) map your  roles and those played by your ecosystem; and (3) reflect, observe, and plan.

Who can use this framework?

Anyone. Individuals can use it to reflect, assess, and plan. Organizations can use it at staff and  board retreats, team-building meetings, orientations, and strategy sessions. Workplaces can use it  to assess their effectiveness. Coalitions and networks can use it to clarify different lanes. People  new to equity and inclusion issues can use it to identify how to begin. Those of us who have been  doing social change work for some time can use it when we feel fatigued or overwhelmed. 

When should this framework be used?

As an individual, you can use it when you need a re-set, when you feel stuck, burned out or  confused, or when you don’t know how to begin. I use it often when there is a community crisis and  don’t know how to respond. For example, people have been using the framework to figure out their roles during COVID-19, in the struggle for Black liberation, and for post-election response.

What are the permissions and restrictions on using this framework?

This framework is for individual and public use – with boundaries. Due to creative and commercial  infringements that occurred in 2020, I have placed new parameters on the use of the map. As of  October 2020, all previous licenses are revoked. Please read the permissions and restrictions  below and if you have any questions or doubts, please email me ( Please do not send direct messages on Twitter or Instagram; email is the most effective route.

This is Permitted:

✓ You can use the map, framework and the guide individually and internally within your  organization, workplace, faith group, board, or campus/school for meetings, retreats,  orientations, check-ins, evaluations, workshops, classes, self-discovery/group discovery  sessions, leadership mapping and more, with the following attribution: Deepa Iyer, Building  Movement Project. SM, © 2018 Deepa Iyer. All rights reserved. All prior licenses revoked.

✓ You can share, post, and repost the map online on your social media platforms and within  emails, newsletters, internal communications and as part of a list of resources as long as  you include the full and original image of the map, the original link and the following  attribution: Deepa Iyer, Building Movement Project. SM, © 2018 Deepa Iyer. All rights  reserved. All prior licenses revoked.

This is Not Permitted:

× No adaptations or remixes. This includes but is not limited to changing the colors, the  text or the roles, adding artwork or new elements, or visually reorganizing the roles.  NOTE: I’m open to the possibility of collaborating with all you visionaries and storytellers  if we can come to an explicit agreement before you alter and create. Please contact me  via email. 

× No public-facing workshops. Please contact me first to discuss/partner.

× No commercial use is permitted. The map or any derivations of its content can never  be used to accrue money for yourself or your organization, ie., charging people or asking  for donations in a session that includes the framework; or making and selling products  based on the framework.

Characteristics of the Roles

Weavers: I see the through-lines of connectivity between people, places, organizations, ideas, and  movements.

Experimenters: I innovate, pioneer, and invent. I take risks and course-correct as needed.

Frontline Responders: I address community crises by marshaling and organizing resources,  networks, and messages.

Visionaries: I imagine and generate our boldest possibilities, hopes and dreams, and remind us  of our direction.

Builders: I develop, organize, and implement ideas, practices, people, and resources in service of  a collective vision.

Caregivers: I nurture and nourish the people around me by creating and sustaining a community  of care, joy, and connection.

Disruptors: I take uncomfortable and risky actions to shake up the status quo, to raise awareness,  and to build power.

Healers: I recognize and tend to the generational and current traumas caused by oppressive  systems, institutions, policies, and practices.

Storytellers: I craft and share our community stories, cultures, experiences, histories, and  possibilities through art, music, media, and movement.

Guides: I teach, counsel, and advise, using my gifts of well-earned discernment and wisdom.


The Roles

• What values call to you? Circle the ones in the middle of the map that connect with you or add  more/others. When do you feel most aligned with these values?

• What are you seeking to change? Is it a system of power, a mindset or a policy? You can also  choose to write in a particular issue, campaign, or crisis that calls to you to take action (i.e. COVID 19, solidarity with Black communities, campaign to center immigrants, post-election response). 

• Locate yourself on the map and put your name inside the circles that you find yourself playing most frequently. Add other circles if needed and label them with roles (not job titles). Recognize  that you can be playing multiple roles, and that these roles can even shift depending on the  context. Write the roles below and identify their characteristics (check the definitions for ideas).

• What role(s) do you feel comfortable and natural playing, and why? What role(s) make you come alive, and why? Are there any differences between these two responses for you to explore? Reflect on how your roles embody the values you identified earlier.

• What is the impact of playing these roles on you – physically, energetically, emotionally, or spiritually? What/who sustains you?

• In your role(s), how often do you vision and dream? What is the effect of repetition and  redundancy, or compromise and sacrifice in the roles you play? 

• How does your role connect to your privilege and power? For example, are there roles where  you might be taking too much space (or not enough)?

• What story emerges about you when you review the map and your reflections? • How could you stretch yourself? Where can you take bolder risks? 

• Social change can be fulfilling but it can also be draining at times. It’s natural to feel burn out  and fatigue. People who have been subjected to generations of oppression carry trauma that  shows up in behaviors and responses. And, in times of crisis, we can cycle through fogginess,  exhaustion, and numbness. All of these responses are natural. We can also learn more about their  roots and triggers, and build sustainability plans to tend to ourselves – and each other. Below,  reflect on a time when you felt fatigued from social change work. What led to that experience &  how did you cope? Knowing what you know now about your roles and your ecosystem, reflect on  activities that you can take to sustain yourself through challenging times (ex. setting boundaries,  relying on a mentor, asking for help, switching roles, or taking breaks). Then, think about a person  in your ecosystem that you can support and check in on regularly.

Ecosystems and Connections

Social change cannot happen at an individual level when we work in silos. It happens when we  are connected to others. Our bodies, nature, and organizations all comprise of ecosystems. As  Grace Lee Boggs reminds us: “We never know how our small activities will affect others through  the invisible fabric of our connectedness. In this exquisitely connected world, it’s never a question  of ‘critical mass.’ It’s always about critical connections.”

• Who are you connected to? What roles do they play? Start with your immediate ecosystem  (usually your organization) and then zoom out to include mentors, supporters, co-conspirators,  friends, and colleagues outside of your organization. If you are working with the map from an  organizational lens, you can have staff/volunteers map themselves, or you can map  partners/allies that are part of a coalition or network.

• The middle circle in the map identifies the values of the communities and the world we seek to  create. Which resonate with your ecosystem and why? How does your ecosystem create the  conditions for justice, liberation, solidarity and inclusion to be realized?

• What observations emerge about your team, organization, network, or movement when you  review the complete ecosystem, and your role in it?

• An effective, healthy, and sustainable social change ecosystem requires people playing diverse  roles. Is your map imbalanced in any way? If so, how could the ecosystem provide support, alter  objectives, or course correct?

• Often, social change ecosystems are prone to maintaining cultures of overwork, productivity,  and performance at the cost of individual well-being and long-term sustainability. Does the  mapping process provide insights into the culture of your ecosystem? Are there roles that need to  be strengthened in order to cultivate a more sustainable culture?

Alignment and Aspirations

• There are times when we all feel confused and lost about the roles that we should play,  especially during community crises. When you don’t feel in alignment with my roles, how can you  re-set? Who can you turn to for guidance? When you are in right relationship between your roles  and values, how do you feel?

• Based on the reflections above, set 2 goals for yourself to try out before your next check-in. Identify 1 SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely) goal and 1 B-HAG (Big,  Hairy, Audacious, as defined by Jim Collins) goal. Check in every quarter to reflect on what’s  changed, and if possible, work with a partner, coach, or team-member for accountability and  momentum.

Elections 2020: 

Using the Social Change Map to Identify Your Roles and Support Your Ecosystem

This worksheet, prepared by Deepa Iyer and Building Movement Project, can be used along with  the social change map, the definition of roles, and a guide, which you can find here, to align  values and actions around the US elections in November 2020.

All rights reserved. All prior licenses revoked. October 2020 Version

• Step 1. Review the social change map, roles, and guide (found here).

• Step 2 (Values): Place your values in the middle circle of the map. What values are important to  you related to the elections? Examples include building power, ensuring fairness and integrity of  the election process, or solidarity.

• Step 3 (Cause): What cause(s) are calling to you now? Examples include a campaign to ensure  fair counting of ballots; direct response/action; supporting directly affected communities.

• Step 4 (Roles): Map your role(s). What are your skills? How are you used to showing up? How  would you like to show up this time? Is there a difference? Reflect on identifying a primary role  you can play as well as a supportive one for someone else in your ecosystem. Take a look at  examples of roles on page 3.

All rights reserved. All prior licenses revoked. October 2020 Version

• Step 5 (Ecosystem): Define your ecosystem(s). There are many formations, organizations and  efforts out there. Which one do you feel most connected to already? Which one would you like to  be part of in the future? If possible, map out the roles that people play in the ecosystem. Do roles  need to be filled or shifted or re-aligned? Are too many people crowded into one role? How is  your role supporting the ecosystem?

• Step 6 (Sustainability): Many of us are feeling exhausted, anxious, and distracted. Reflect on  your capacity – what are you capable of doing right now? Then, identify one daily activity that  you can commit to in November that brings you peace and energy. Lastly, reflect on how you can  practice community care. Who can you support, and how?

• Step 7 (Next Steps): Based on these reflections, what are 1 to 3 action steps that you believe  you can take over the coming weeks that are aligned with your values, that embody your roles,  and that support your ecosystem. Include your sustainability activities as well. What’s the  timeframe for those actions? Who will you be accountable to, and how will you course correct as  needed?

✓ Examples of roles related to the elections:

Storytellers document and share voting experiences of first-time voters or those facing  voting barriers

Caregivers bring nourishment to share with people standing in line to vote Healers provide coaching and counseling support for frontline responders and disrupters  taking direct action

Visionaries remind us that regardless of outcome, we need to stay focused on  reimagining a different society because returning to normal is not an option Frontline responders provide support to voters who face barriers or organize rallies and  protests

Disrupters plan actions to shake up the status quo and build people power Guides share lessons learned about how people have historically organized to change  systems of power

Builders put together rapid response networks

Experimenters identify new ideas to change government systems

Weavers connect people, funding, resources and organizations across the country to one  another