Your effectiveness as an activist doesn’t hinge on being the loudest in the room or having the biggest social following. In The Little Book Of Activism, author Karen Edwards outlines how even introverts can make their voices count for change.
The following is an extract from The Little Book Of Activism by Karen Edwards.
Not all of us were born to be confident speech-givers or run rallies, so how does someone with a quieter personality become an effective activist? The truth is, you don’t have to be loud to be influential – and you certainly don’t need to lead movements to make a difference. In fact, many of the people you are trying to reach are likely to be introverts, too (around a half of us are).
In her inspiring 2016 TED Talk entitled “Activism Needs Introverts”, British craftivist Sarah Corbett highlights how the shy ones among us can be brilliant at more intimate activism and are valuable in carrying out behind-the-scenes work.
Taking part in craft and artivism projects, pamphleteering, petitioning, micro-donations, clicktivism and (quiet) boycotting are all great ways to commit to a cause without having to put yourself in a confrontational situation. Social media posts are a resourceful way to show your support without having to shout too loudly. You might be pleasantly surprised by how successful gentle activism can be at reaching wide audiences.
Ideas for the quiet activists
- Try your hand at knitting or painting – you can sell your art or craftivism to raise money for your cause, or use it to share a message.
- Start a blog about your activism journey and share your emotions, experiences and schedule with your network.
- Start a podcast at home – all you really need is a microphone and, if you are feeling fancy, a pop shield. Pick an angle for each episode, and maybe even invite fellow activists to join you.
- Verify information with charities and organisations, before creating a simple website with your findings and sources. You might end up being a valuable resource to many people.
- We discussed this in more detail on the conscious activism page (page 58 of the book), but living by example truly is the best way to advocate for your cause.
A common misconception is that you have to be on the front line of activism to make a difference. While loud, bold activism does get a lot of attention, it is important to remember that behind every outspoken face, there is often a team of people helping to bring their message to the public.
There is a place for all of us in creating positive change. If you are more of a behind-the-scenes person by nature, don’t be afraid to focus on this, because every role is vital in raising awareness and pushing for reform. Don’t hesitate to bring your natural skills to the table – whether they are administrative, organisational or creative – and lend a hand where necessary.
Rest assured that whatever you are able to contribute will be valued – every little bit helps when setting the activism cogs in motion. While the quieter, more subtle, tasks may not put you in the limelight, they are essential for the effective functioning of any campaign.
Roles for unsung heroes
- Event planning or organising fundraisers.
- Designing flyers, literature or web pages to share information.
- Letter, speech and blog writing for those who are the face of the campaign.
- Putting together presentations for the frontline activists to use in the public domain.
- Volunteering to drive campaign leaders to and from appointments.
- Looking after the accounting and budgeting.
- Using your knowledge or skill in art or craft to introduce artivism or craftivism initiatives to your fellow activists.
- Managing social media platforms to share the work that your team are doing.
- Signing and sharing the campaign’s e-petitions.
- Sharing verified information on an issue via social media channels.
- Talking to friends and family about your affinity with an issue and why you have chosen to support it – who knows, perhaps they will join you.
Write letters and articles
If you feel passionately about a cause, consider putting your thoughts down on paper. Not only are articles and letters powerful ways to inspire others to see things from your point of view, but writing can also be incredibly therapeutic when feeling overwhelmed, disappointed or affected by a cause.
Once you feel informed on the issue, consider writing honestly about it in an article for a local newspaper, community newsletter or noticeboard. You could also address it to someone in a position of power, such as a local Member of Parliament, a consumer manager (who is typically responsible for the running of a business or marketing of a product) or board member. Most decision makers are voted into position by a committee or the general public, so it is in their best interest to acknowledge what you, a member of the public, have to say. Plus, there’s no force involved, and seeing facts and figures written down will often stick in someone’s memory far better than spoken statistics.
Tips for writing to decision makers
- Limit your letter to a page so that even the busiest of bosses will have time to read it.
- Be as clear as possible on the issue you are supporting – don’t assume that the person you’re writing to knows its background or context.
- If you’re responding to a recent decision or event, then do so within a few days. This is also relevant if you’re addressing a particular issue in a newspaper or newsletter.
- Discuss how the issue affects you or your community, and tell the decision maker why you are appealing to them and how they could make a positive difference. The onus is then on them to consider their next move.
- Even if you are feeling sad or angry about an issue, it’s important to remain level-headed when addressing the problem. Leave out heated or dramatic language.
The Little Book Of Activism by Karen Edwards is published by Summersdale Publishers, £6.99
Images: Getty/Klaus Vedfelt, book cover courtesy of Summersdale publishers