Social Change Leader Billy Shore to Speak on Achieving the Impossible at Fall for the Book

by Whitney Hopler, Communications Director

Social Change Leader Billy Shore to Speak on Achieving the Impossible at Fall for the Book

Social change leader Billy Shore, executive chairman of the organizations Share Our Strength and No Kid Hungry, will discuss “What Does it Take to Achieve the Impossible?” at Mason’s Fall for the Book Festival on Thursday, October 11, from noon to 1:15 p.m. in George’s restaurant at the Johnson Center.

Shore, whose work focuses on fighting poverty and hunger worldwide, hosts Add Passion and Stir, a weekly podcast that brings together high-profile chefs and change-makers to talk about the central role food plays in social justice. He is also the author of four books focused on social change, including Revolution of the Heart (Riverhead Press, 1995), The Cathedral Within (Random House, 1999), The Light of Conscience (Random House, 2004) and most recently, The Imaginations of Unreasonable Men (Public Affairs, 2010).

Rather than allowing themselves to be overwhelmed by the world’s major, complex problems, people can start thinking about small ways they can contribute to solving those big problems, says Shore. “We always remember the words of author Jonathan Kozol: ‘Pick battles big enough to matter but small enough to win.’ By looking at problems through that lens, and breaking them down into aspects that are ambitious but achievable, we have made great progress,” he points out. 

Many people care emotionally about the world’s big problems, yet don’t actually move beyond their warm feelings about a cause to taking practical action. Shore encourages people to find one easy way to start getting involved with a cause they care about, and go from there. His work often focuses on alleviating child hunger. In the United States, about one in six children – about 13 million kids – live in households without consistent access to adequate food.  Shore describes how practical it is for people to start doing something about that: “Child hunger in America is a solvable problem and there is a role for everyone to play in solving. We have no shortage of food in America, nor shortage of food programs (such as school meals and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). So the key is connecting those in need to those programs. People can donate, volunteer, advocate with policy makers, bear witness, and help raise awareness. We have created a program to involve college students specifically in the fight against childhood hunger. Through our youth ambassador program, students are placed with one of our state No Kid Hungry community partners to support work on programs like School Breakfast, Summer Meals, and Cooking Matters, our signature nutrition education program. Students can learn more at GenerationNoKidHungry.org.” 

College students, like those in our Mason community, are often in the process of discovering their purpose in life – which is a key part of building their well-being. Shore wrote in his popular book The Cathedral Within that focusing on creating something that endures helps people pursue their purpose. Doing so, he says, empowers people to tackle the world’s tough and seemingly impossible problems. “Any big social problem worth tackling is not going to be solved overnight,” says Shore. “Like the great cathedral builders, we may have to work on it without seeing our work finished in our lifetime. But that’s how something lasting is achieved, by being part of something larger than yourself.”

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