The Box That Helps You Do Better

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“We can all do better, and we can start with t-shirts that not only say something, but do something too.”

We’ve all played our part in “hashtag activism,” essentially using social media as a way to support and encourage political change while doing little in real life to address the situation. While social media platforms give a necessary voice to political and social issues, there comes a point when we need to ask ourselves if, and how, we could be doing more. Even for those who want to bring activism out of the confined sphere of the internet, it’s not always easy to know where to start. This is a problem that Danny Rothschild and his team (Giuliana Hazelwood, Mikie Schulz, and Zac Coffey) recognized, leading them to the creation of the Do Better Box, a subscription box dedicated to providing people with the tools they need to perpetuate change in their daily lives. “Activism shouldn’t begin and end with a hashtag,” says Danny. “Our main goal is to combat the symptoms of the social media age that are getting in the way of progress. We see what’s happening online when people discuss social issues and politics, and it’s only worsening the feelings of isolation, apathy, helplessness, and overwhelm that are so pervasive right now.”

Starting in January 2018 subscribers will receive a box every five weeks, each one dedicated to a different cause and containing tools to help them get started, along with a statement t-shirt to facilitate conversations in real life. “As a subscriber, you can expect to receive a statement shirt that is bold, thought-provoking, and starts a conversation,” says Danny. “To support the shirt, each box includes tips on how to have a better conversation; a talking points card to learn how to talk about the cause and engage others in discussion; resources to dig deeper, broaden your understanding, and help you make smarter decisions and smarter donations; and an actionable item that will vary depending on the cause: this could be an already stamped and addressed letter to a policymaker, or something a simple as a reusable straw, so that you can help cut down on the 500 million plastic straws Americans use every day that end up in our oceans.” 

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Danny says he got the idea for the Box while out to brunch with his husband and ten ladies in their sixties: “In August, I joined my oldest friend and her mom, as well as her mom's closest friends, and went to an exhibit celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Summer of Love at the De Young Museum in San Francisco. Afterwards, myself, my husband (and co-founder) Zac, and these 10 vivacious women in their 60’s went to a boozy brunch and unpacked our feelings about the exhibit. We talked about the many parallels between now and political and social movements of the 1960's. What activism looked like back then, and what it looks like now.

“One of the them mentioned that we are the most apathetic generation, that all we do is hashtag and tweet and share articles online, and think that’s enough. I immediately started thinking about my own activism in the past year, the social media echo chambers that in so many ways affected this election, and the hashtag activism that is so great at raising awareness, but often fails to translate into real world change. And then I thought about the huge role fashion played in the social and political climate of the 60’s, and what that looks like today: t-shirts featuring feminist slogans, or sad polar bears crying about climate change, or the names of black men who have been shot by police. Wearing a t-shirt has always been a great way to make a bold statement. And wearing a bold statement on your body can be a powerful act in and of itself. A t-shirt is also a very physical thing, with the power to start conversations face-to-face in the real world.”

With the Do Better Box, advocates behind the causes are the ones giving tips and providing tools on how best to help them. “[T]he best part is that every aspect of the box—including the design of the shirt—is created and curated by a roundtable of artists and activists who are personally affected by the issue the box is addressing,” explains Danny. “That means a box about trans rights is put together by members of the trans community, or a box about DACA is put together by Dreamers. So you can be sure you are getting an honest and nuanced understanding of the issue by the people who live it every day.”

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The Box is to help start conversations in person, because hiding behind a screen won’t always get the job done. “Do Better Box is a way to make those conversations as productive as possible, by providing you with the knowledge, resources, and tools you need to back it up, as well as action items you can do to make an impact and be a better advocate every day of your life,” Danny says. “The resources we provide in the box give people a way to turn opinions, ideas, and feelings into action, because we all know that #prayersforwhoever does little to actually help the situation. And broadcasting our opinions into an echo chamber doesn’t inspire progress or reflection, it just reaffirms confirmation bias. 

“Another goal for the box is to give a voice to marginalized communities, by creating a platform to tell their story from their point of view. And ultimately, we hope the box serves as a little reminder every month to integrate social responsibility into all the choices we make everyday. It can start as simply as a t-shirt, but can grow into something much bigger if we constantly encourage and remind each other that we can all do better.”

The time to Do Better is now because the funding deadline for Do Better Box is November 1st at 11:59pm PDT. If you like what Do Better Box is doing, please consider pledging to their Kickstarter to help them reach their goal; you can find it here

“We can all do better, and we can start with t-shirts that not only say something, but do something too.”