An Activists Starter Kit!
These are very interesting, and important times we face as a global community.
There are many polarizing things happening. There are choices being made by the few, for the many, that effect, or will affect, the lives of every single man, woman, and child on this planet. Just take a look at the things that are happening around the Global Warming phenomena. It is so easy for people to feel overwhelmed and unheard when the giants of the world flex their strength and brute force every chance they get.
The voice of the many can be drowned out by the noise of well-oiled machines of industry and lobbying, the church and corporations. As individuals, after years of being squished by these organizations, we feel small, like there is nothing we can do. The feeling that the beast is so much larger than the single voice that we may never be seen or heard. Or worse, if we are then we will be disregarded, labeled or even punished for our efforts.
It’s easy to understand why so many who desire change just accept defeat before they even try. It’s easy to understand why so many feel that there “nothing they can do” or that if they do try to act, it will just be them “spinning their wheels”, a lot of energy going out, but no results. This has deterred so many would be activists, and it’s really quite sad. To know that those who actually have the power to create change, both in dramatic and subtle ways feel there is nothing they can do. But there is.
In fact, it is easier than ever to organize and resist. There has been a huge swell in the number of community support programs, national awareness campaigns, and international whistleblowing, rising up all over the planet. There has also been a much greater number of people creating independent news and media outlets to share and promote these brave and passionate groups. These two factors, combined with the sheer number of frustrated people looking to support something that can bring change, takes us to a very exciting time in what it means to be Human in the 21st century. We have a chance to share our ideas and our suggestions with tens of thousands off people in an instant, thanks to things like the internet and large community gatherings, i.e. festivals and organized protests.
ORGANIZE AND RESIST!
– the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change.
We are seeing it everywhere and for good reason. There truly is a revolution taking place all over the world. One that has THE PEOPLE banding together to take action in response to many of “the issues” we are facing. It’s happening in both huge movements, and in small, subtle, personal choices that people are making. Something as simple as starting social media discussion groups, like the Emergence CreativeSpace facebook group, and inviting all the people in your personal network to share their interests aspirations.
People are inspired to share their feelings, and their voices on important issues, such as international trade, gerrymandering, reproductive rights, and many more. And there is no shortage of choices when it comes to having reason to be upset and demand change. What’s really exciting is that every day more and more people are getting involved with, or creating their own “Activist” programs and networks.
Unfortunately, many of these programs don’t last long. Not due to a lack of passion or just cause, but from a lack of experience of preparedness. It can be just as overwhelming trying to solve an issue than the issue itself.
Activism is one of the most fundamental and important actions we can take in creating change and bringing in the world that we, so deeply, want to live in. Sometimes this involves the creation of something and other times it’s all about the dissolving of something. Or both at the same time. Either way… WE ARE CHANGEMAKERS.
Just take a look at the movements of the past that would not have had the effect on human history were it not for organization and protest, networking and intelligently designed plans; The American Revolution, The end of Slavery, The Woman’s Suffrage Movement, The Civil Rights Movement, and in more recent years, The Arab Spring, Black Lives Matter and the “Me Too” Movement. These are just a few of the more obvious. There are countless thousands of smaller movements that can claim a victory every single day. All organized by individuals who were “fed up” and sought to create a change to the system. Like you?
THE ACTIVISM STARTER KIT-
ECS has created this little guide to help make it all a little bit easier and less daunting for the would-be activist and organizer. There are tips and pointers that will help anyone, at any level of the process. From the “green” (fresh) layperson looking to get involved with something for the very first time to the seasoned career activist with years of organizational experience.
Before we get too into this list there are three key points that may help you feel better and less overwhelmed.
1) You are not alone- Just because you may not know a lot of people in your immediate circle that feels the same way that you do doesn’t mean that nobody feels what you do. If you feel a certain way, chances are there are MANY others who do to. All you need to do is find them.
2)The hardest step to take is that very first one – We convince ourselves that activism is an uphill battle, a challenge, and to be honest with you… it really is. Change isn’t easy. But the good news is, and this goes back to our 1st point, many hands make light work! The more people in the mix, the more skills, knowledge, and experience. Knowing that you don’t have to do everything and that there are many people who want to help you, makes it so much easier to imagine happening.
3) No experience necessary –
It’s ok to not know what you are doing sometimes. When it comes to activism, doing anything is better than doing nothing. Making the decision to get involved is the most important thing to do, experience comes from, well, having done something. The VERY instant you make that choice… you have all the experience you need.
So relax. Breathe. And read this guide. I hope it helps.
Start with the end in mind –
Answer the question, “How could it be different?” What would it feel like to live in a world with a solution to the issue you are passionate about? What will it feel like knowing that YOU, with the support your energy will attract, lived as a CREATOR?
Are you ready to seriously take action, or are you just bitching? Yikes, right? Kinda harsh, but none the less, do you see an alternative to how things are now? This is important because anyone can complain. It’s easy to judge what others are doing. But, do you have a vision for “Another way”? And if so, what is it?
FYI, this is a good time to grab a pad of paper and pen, as there are a few times you may want to write things down. The first one is, WRITE OUT A SOLUTION! It doesn’t have to be detailed or “the perfect plan” at first, just write it down.
What is the end result of any energy or effort you put out? If there is an idea to organize a small group of people to clean up a local park then the end result would be to have a cleaner, safer place for children to play. If the issue is that there are way too many corporate businesses moving into a downtown area, what is the solution that would empower local independent business owners. Whatever the issue, write down what the world looks like when there is a solution to the problem. This will also help you come up with the proper steps to address the issue, and thus increase your chances of success.
Educate YOURSELF –
Consider information the most useful tool in your tool belt. Absorb as much as you can on the topic you are looking to bring a change to. Find out ALL the parties involved. Take time to research as much as you can. The more you know about it the more confident you will be and this will show up in how you speak and how you carry yourself.
Inventory your assets, you have many more than you might realize at first.
What skills do you have? Are you good at making social media posts? Are you good at inspiring others with your words? Do you have an eye for details? Strong work ethic? Are you a people person? Everyone has something that they are really good at. It doesn’t matter what it is, if you are good at it then it’s an asset.
It’s a good idea to make a list on a piece of paper that you will not throw away because it is from this list that you will be building up your own personal plan on the best way to take action. Also, doing things we are good at makes less work and more reward.
For those who are potent social media users, know that social media is a very powerful tool. It is the fastest way to share an idea and get people involved.
There will be articles written specifically on how to use social media and other networking solutions to help you gain support in future articles. If you are not subscribed to ECS yet, take a minute to do so. We will forward articles and updates on news directly to your email. It’s free and you are instantly connected with many others who share your ideas and inspirations!
Share Your Vision!
Think of yourself as Johnny or Jane Appleseed, and that every single person you share your idea with is planting a seed in their hearts and minds. Think about it, who can help you achieve your goal? Chances are, at first, you may not know the answer to these questions, and this is why sharing it with anyone who will listen is clutch.
Don’t waste your time and energy sharing with people who are closed off or don’t want a solution. You will not sway them, not at first anyhow. Even if the people you share it with don’t actually help you, by listening to you they are helping you to practice sharing the vision. So with this in mind, the more people you talk to about it, the better you are going to be at talking about it. And you never know who might be able to help you in more important ways.
Use whatever tools you have in that toolbox to communicate. A GREAT way to start this is to put a shout out on Social Media and see who responds. Keep track of them all. Then use this information to make phone calls, organize an in-person or virtual meet up, host discussions, and send emails.
The seeds you plant will start to grow and soon a kind of cross-pollination will take place. Those who feel drawn to the idea will show up and momentum starts to form. Soon you will have a group of people interested in hearing more of what you have in mind. Once they see that you have a plan, one that will present results… that is when the magic starts to happen. Momentum builds momentum.
Have a plan ready to share –
Without a plan, there really can be no action. A lot of RE-action maybe. By sharing what the world would look like after the solution has been put in motion you have something for the listener to wrap their head around.
A plan doesn’t have to be anything more than a list of 10 steps you feel need to be taken. Or a bunch of “if/then” statements; “If 10 people show up to this meeting then we can break out into two teams to discuss the cause and the effect.” another example; “If we raise $3,000 at our concert fundraiser then we will upgrade our website and improve our newsletter.” Create a number of milestones that will act as stepping stones toward the goals of your plan.
When looking to connect with other people it’s important to know that their time with you is a gift. That is, there are so many other things that they could be doing with their time, but they are spending it with you. So honor that. And be prepared with some kind of call to action. Maybe your plan is to come up with a plan with the participants. That is a plan.
A plan is simply a thoughtful list of potential steps to achieving goals and milestones. People like plans. It’s how things get done!
Understand the other sides’ perspective –
If you are organizing something that is in opposition to something or someone, take time to understand WHY the thing that you are opposing is something they support. How is it in their best interest to support it? What are they getting out of it? Do they actually think it’s a good idea? Why? Understanding these things will help you find a footing on the issue in a much more thoughtful conscious way.
One of “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey is to “Seek to understand, before being understood.” There is a lot to this, and I recommend that everyone interested in activism read it, but the gist of it is that by understanding the point of view of the other side you can more easily see potential solutions. It gives you a more well-rounded take on the issue. Also, if you ever get a chance to communicate with the opposition, you will have a stronger sense of empathy and compassion, which will help repair any resistance of mistrust, going both ways.
These solutions just may be a win-win for everyone involved. Finding the Win/Win is probably the most powerful solution anyway. Why destroy someone or something when it’s much easier to enhance or help it evolve in a way that best helps everyone.
Pick Your team with wisdom and foresight –
One of the easiest traps to fall in is to just align yourself with anyone who believes in what you are rallying for. And our natural tendency is to think that they have all the same skills and understanding that we have. Chances are, they don’t. Some people are great at street teaming (promotions) while others love numbers and accounting. You don’t want someone who doesn’t understand numbers to be your accountant just because you need an accountant.
The same is true for YOURSELF. What are your skills and interests? What are you REALLY good at and what are you, um… not so great at? Be honest. Self-evaluation can be tricky. It’s not what you WANT to be good at that counts, it’s what you ARE good at. Find people who can do what you can’t, and fill in to provide support for those who are not as skilled as you in certain areas.
There are two words that will add so much to the process, and these two words are vital to the success of any project, of any scale. These two words are Coverage and Communication.
Coverage is making sure that all bases are covered and that those in the position are able to respond (responsible) and if they need help, they know where to get it and who can provide it know that it is needed. This ties into the second word, Communication. We don’t know what we don’t know, so find out by communicating with one another.
Take the time to find out the skills and interests of everyone. Assign roles to those people accordingly. Think of it as putting a sports team together. You need key skills at key positions. You want the best player at the position.
I am going to close on this… there is much more to share, and we will in the future, but this is a great place to start.
Your ideas are important! As important and anyone else’s. You are no less powerful or inspired or passionate than anyone else who has sought to create change. The choice comes down to you. WILL YOU ACT on this passion?
Your energy can help change the world. What you do is ultimately up to you to decide. Choices change the world. Thoughts… not so much.
If you would like support in your vision, Emergence CreativeSpace is a great place to connect with other inspired people who have many of the skills and expertise you need to accomplish your goals. Take time to familiarize yourself with all the tools we provide. Maybe you are interested in helping us create our vision and adding your energy. We would love that!
You are amazing. The fact that your heart is desiring to make “the world a better place” speaks volumes as to the kind of person you are. This is not to be taken lightly.
We are here to support you on your mission, should you choose to accept it!
Until next time… Inspiration! Activation! Celebration!
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