Wanted: people who try to make change happen...
I first became immersed in grassroots activism when I moved to Greece in 2011. Athens was ground-zero in the worst financial crisis of the post-war era, and the atmosphere was one of rage, revolt, revolution.
In order to expose the injustice of austerity and the EU establishment, some newfound friends and I created campaigns targeting international media. We toiled for hours in the graffiti-covered bars off Syntagma Square, huddled over laptops and coffee, before heading out to nearby rallies to find journalists to pitch. And, I dare say, we scored a few modest wins.
These friends, though, didn’t consider themselves activists. The campaigns were just another thing they did, in parallel with their daily – sometimes difficult – lives. As part of being an engaged citizen.
And the work wasn’t the radical protest action we might associate with the label ‘activist’. It was pressure tactics and smart PR to quietly, thoughtfully shift the status quo. To bring about positive change — often in small but significant ways.
So maybe a better term for what I’m talking about is being an ‘activist citizen’. Trying to shape the world for the better.
Whether you’re a student, a working father of three or a grandmother.
Does this sound like you?
… and won’t take ‘no’ for an answer
Now, here’s a familiar script. You’re trying to tackle a problem and you're not making progress. But think you’ve got a better idea of how to do it. You go up to whoever can influence it and say: “Have you considered doing it like this instead?”
The response: “We can’t.”
“Because it’s always been done this way.”
If you’re like me, this sort of answer will drive you nuts. Because it’s something we hear all the time.
And this is particularly true in the case of activism. We fall into habits, inertia takes over, and the people taking the decisions refuse to consider different approaches. We get poor results, become demotivated, and quit.
Activism (or activist citizenship) is ripe for innovation. And the world needs it to be re-imagined, re-energised.
If our current approaches aren’t having an impact, we must look for new ones.
Do you feel the same?
An experiment, if you’re up for it
So if you’re an activist citizen looking to change things and get results – or someone who’s interested in getting active – welcome. Subvrt is for you. Boy am I glad you’re with us.
Here I plan to share what I’ve learned about activism since those days in Athens, and through my work over the last decade as a political consultant. To explore why we do it, and how we can improve. To gather effective tips, tactics and ideas, so we can sharpen our skills together.
I don’t have all the answers, but I’ve made a start. So far I’ve published: a case-study of a successful campaign I developed recently. The method for impact that underpins all my work. Interviews I’ve done with activists who make a difference. And every Thursday, I’ll share an update with subscribers here.
Looking forward to shaking things up with you!