note… as of October 1, 2011 and thanks to
LoudMouth Press, the story and voices of
EX:Change are now published in the book
100 Voices — Americans Talk about

Change is a word Americans fell in love with in the months leading up to the 2008 Presidential election.  By the time we got to the polls, regardless of which candidate we were supporting, all of us were using that word.  Then, on November 4, the word became a sentence, “A change has come to America.”

A change had come.  Some of us were elated, others were lukewarm or disappointed or even furious.  But no one could deny the change.  Barack Obama, the first American man of African heritage, would be our 44th President.

As I watched all of this, I found my social psychologist self taken by the enormous importance given to the word and idea of change.  Or maybe it was ideas.  Words like change and hope and values are big words.  Even as they carry emotional punch, they can be amorphous and imprecise, varying by the meaning of the person using them.  We say words like that to each other and assume we mean the same thing.  That’s not always so.

We also can have great good feelings associated with a word like change.  But if we never stop to say clearly what we mean and what we’ll recognize as signs of change, we can easily feel betrayed if the feeling isn’t delivered, if the change doesn’t come.

The EX:Change project was an idea that formed itself from my musings in the days surrounding the election.  What if I took the first 100 days of the new Administration to interview Americans – to drive around the country asking about change?  I came up with three questions:

  • When you say the word change what do you mean?
  • Alongside change, what is important to have remain the same?
  • What would be concrete signs that positive change was occurring?

Then the day after the Presidential Inauguration, I began to ask and to listen.  My goal was 100 voices in 100 days.  In the hours of taping and driving I experienced what will certainly be one of the greatest privileges of my lifetime – listening to everyday Americans from all walks of life as they shared their hopes, ideas and stories in answer to those three simple questions.

The wisdom of the people is consistent and profound.  So is the generosity and kindness of spirit.  Two baristas in a Starbucks in York Nebraska said, “We’re not as divided as the media tell us we are. Good luck.  We need this — to know what Americans are really thinking.”

And now, it’s a year later.  Now it’s time to revive the spirit and the practical understandings of change.  It’s time for us to hear one another’s voices – to engage in active national dialogue in ways that bolster again our belief in ourselves and give voice to democracy in ways our leadership must heed.

Volunteers with EX:Change are transcribing interviews, editing videos, designing web pages, analyzing data.  I’m one of those volunteers with both hope and determination to find excellent ways of giving the voices back to the American people as a way of keeping the dialogue and democracy vibrantly alive.

Mary M. Clare
January 21, 2010

NOTE:  We’re currently functioning on personal funding
and donations.  Please visit our soon-to-be-even-cooler
website www.exchange09.com.   If you’d like to make a
tax deductible donation, you can do it there.

Thanks for your interest in EX:Change.
It’s about all of us!


  1. really loving your blog MC- so much love and respect- x’s

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