Which Way is North?


Welcome to Which way is North (WwN)!

WwN is a dialogic blog–an ongoing recursive conversation with oneself and others. Its purpose is to narrate stories, to invite reflection, to challenge the status quo, and to provoke action.

WwN asks questions such as: Where does your compass point? How do you get from point A to B? What map are you using? Is there one preferred route? Are their roads less taken? Not taken? Why not? And, what will you do about it?

You are invited to engage in this dialogue as a social change practitioner, academic, policy-maker, or as ordinary citizen.

You are challenged to forego cherished maps and destinations, even if temporarily.

Consider the story of Mother Teresa arriving in Washington D.C. in the early 1970s to be welcomed at the airport by a teaming mass of anti-war activists.

“Tomorrow, we have a march in WashingtonD.C.,” noted a jean-clad, long-haired man wearing a Down with Nixon T-shirt. “Mother, we want you to march with us.”

“What is the march about?” asked Mother Teresa.

“Against the Vietnam War,” replied the young man.

“A march against the war,” repeated Mother Teresa. “I am sorry, I will not join you.”

“Why not?” the young man asked, disappointed. “We really want you to march with us,” he insisted.

Mother Teresa replied: “If you have a march against the war, sorry. But, if you have a march for peace, I will lead.”

Growing up in India, I was privileged to have a corresponding relationship with Mother Teresa. In those letters, one is struck by the “for” lens that Mother Teresa employed to frame the world.

What implications does the “for” frame hold for scholars and practitioners of social change? What journeys does it allow us to take? Not take?

Which way is your North?


Editor’s note: Which Way is North is a blog originally published at The talk to walk to, a site that shares views and news on communication and development. The site’s approach to “Communication” is as an embrace of the full spectrum of meaningful definitions in a child rights-focussed development context, including advocacy and strategies that promote participation.

Dr. Arvind Singhal is the Samuel Shirley and Edna Holt Marston Endowed Professor of Communication and Director of the Social Justice Initiative in UTEP’s Department of Communication. Dr. Singhal’s research has been supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, The National Science Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, UNAIDS, UNICEF, among others.

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