Like most people, I always feel so much pressure to make a change in the world. I feel guilty when I don’t go to a protest against fossil fuels. I feel disappointed in myself that I still haven’t quite managed to go fully vegetarian. I feel heartbroken that Australian politicians are not helping refugees that probably have more of a right to live here than I do. I never know enough, I never do enough and I never say enough.
The truth is, I don’t really do enough. I’m still learning…and that’s ok. Activism and making change for what you believe in looks different on different people. I have felt so overwhelmed over the last year to make an impact that I’d forgotten how to actually do it in my own way. I’ve come to realise that activists come in many different forms. All of them are as important as each other. Here is an alternative list of methods of activism you can be a part of, or not, whatever you choose.
1. Activism through art
Art is such an important tool to communicate messages to people and create change. It gets people thinking and can create a conversation in a very different way. What can’t be said in words can be said reflected powerfully in art.
Frida Kahlo, one of the most famous female artists, is an example of how influential and powerful art can be. Frida is a feminist icon whose work has challenged mainstream beauty, Mexican culture and politics. Her work to this day, nearly a century later is influencing conversations around gender and culture.
Mundane Matters (Danling Xiao) is a modern designer, voicing her opinion for eliminating food and plastic waste. She has nearly 50K Instagram followers thanks to her quirky creative snaps using food scraps. Apparently, the whole thing started as a project four years ago, Danling focused on making things to share her values and ideas on sustainable living, not realising the impact she would have on people. She now hosts workshops creating quirky art out of food scraps (I went to one recently and it was a lot of fun), all details are on her website mundanematters.co.
The history of straws ?: Humans have been using “drinking tubes” for over 7,000 years. They were made from biodegradable materials until the invention of plastic straw in the 1960s. In the 1950s the usage of paper straws was boosted with fast food restaurants using disposable packaging. In the 1960s, plastic straws replaced paper straws, shifting from a renewable to an oil-based, non-biodegradable product. /// In some cases, humans really need to go backwards. Or like some said, there is no return. ? #mundanematters #saynotoplastic Facts: @worldwatchinstitute
All art is political in the sense that it engages society in some way, either influencing or influenced by it.” – Dale Eisenger, Complex
2. Activism through music
This really needs no explanation, music is an incredible platform to communicate messages and promote positive change in the world. Cultures have been shaped by music, for example, the punk era in the 1970s was created from punk rock music, promoting anti-establishment and social change. Music has also highlighted issues to wider audiences. “Fight the Power” by Public Enemy in the 1980s highlighted social injustice in America to Indigenous Singer-Songwriter Archie Roach’s song “Took the Children Away” in 1990 gave a voice for indigenous injustice in Australia.
I wanted this song to be an anthem that could express what young black America was feeling at this time. Around this time, New York City under Mayor Ed Koch was racially polarized.” – Spike Lee on the song “Fight The Power”
You don’t have to be John Lennon to sing what you care about. Singing at a local open mic night can influence a room full of people and start a conversation if that’s your thing (it’s not mine). I’ve been completely in awe, educated and inspired by live musicians in tiny bars singing about climate change or social injustice.
3. Activism through media
Sir David Attenborough and the BBC have influenced millions of people by making nature and science ‘cool’ and therefore in need of protection with incredible documentaries such as; ‘The Blue Planet’, ‘Life on Earth’, ‘The Living Planet’ and ‘Planet Earth’. With the evolution of technology, it is easier for regular people with no budget to create engaging and influential content. A video can reach an audience with an iPhone, an app and social media.
Podcasts and writing are also successful methods of communicating ideas, change and educating people. According to new research, 42 million American people listen to podcasts weekly, five times more than go to the movies. Wardrobe Crisis by Clare Press is a great start for inspiration; she “unzips the real issues that face the industry today, with a focus on ethics, sustainability, consumerism, activism, identity and creativity”. EWP Editor -in-chief Jennifer Nini’s story is also an inspiration, starting a personal blog in 2010 to write about eco fashion and environmental activism which has turned into a media brand. Anyone can make change using photography, video, writing or podcasting.
4. Activism through lifestyle
Just living your lifestyle based on your own values and ethics can be a form of activism. Every aspect of your lifestyle can be adjusted to speak volumes to others and influence companies to make a change. Investing your money into good products, brands and companies whilst boycotting the rest is key. Be conscious of everything from food, fashion to banking, it is all connected and consumers have a huge impact.
Related Post: Why I Boycotted Coca-Cola and You Should Too
5. Activism through community and volunteering
There are various organisations I’ve come across that create and support communities of changemakers in entirely different ways. A community is a really important aspect of activism, getting people together to create change and learn from each other. This can be as literal as attending GreenUps, monthly networking events that are passionate about sustainability to OneWave, a worldwide surfing community that tackles mental health issues. Other local change communities include Seaside Scavenge, a waterway cleanup and clothes swap event and She Went Wild, adventure workshops and events aimed at empowering women to improve their health and lifestyles outdoors. Don’t even get me started on how important I think outdoor activities and adventures are…!