Activist Badge

Itzl in the snow

Originally uploaded by nodigio

Step One:
Everyday, the news and the internet are filled with causes that are just crying out for help. You read them and instead of getting mad, you are motivated to do something. So go there: visualize the cause that motivates you the most. Are you so angry that people dump their dogs off in parking lots on the coldest, iciest days of the year? Does it piss you off so much that homeless people are forced to remain on the streets because no one will give them a break that you’re willing to talk to city council or legislators and get an ordinance passed that will help the homeless get off the streets? Whether your concern is the Amazon rainforest, locavorism, or protecting the ravens at the London Tower, you don’t just lie in bed at night and fret about it – you are doing things!

Step Two:
Being an activist has many benefits. Nothing bonds people better than striving to right a wrong. The people you meet at the city council or the legislature or the coffee shop are kindred spirits who are already on the way to becoming lifelong friends. You’re not gathering co-workers, you’re gaining companions as passionate and involved as you are, even if (and sometimes because) you don’t always agree.

Everything you do helps make the world a better place, even if “world” is limited to the local park where you make sure the playground equipment is safe and the trash is cleared up. And that makes you feel better inside yourself. You’re making a difference in the world. Yo are proud of what you do, and you can sleep sound and sweet at night.

It doesn’t matter how small your activism is, so long as you do it with great love. We aren’t all called to do rgeat things, but that doesn’t matter because it’s the small stuff that impacts those around us the most. Work with the utility companies to develop a program that waives deposits for people getting re-homed after they’ve been on the streets a while. Bring tarps and polar fleece blankets to where the homeles huddle against the sharp north wind. Rescue that little dog shivering in the filthy ice of the parking lot. Campaign to allow homeowners to have composts and grow victory gardens in their front lawns. Do it with love and passion, and it will make your world better. It will make you better, too, more confident as you see the projects you championed being implemented.

Step Three:
If you don’t have a cause, but want one, ask questions. Read the paper, read the internet – local bloggers may know and blog about things that would inspire you. Pay attention to what’s happening around you. Maybe it’s a one-time event, like an ice storm or tornado or hurricane, or maybe it’s an on-going problem like autism or AIDS. We all have so much to do that we walk blindly past any number of problems and issues. Ask yourself why those people are protesting outside your favorite restaurant, or why there’s graffiti on the neighborhood fences. What are people doing about them? What can you do?

Step Four:
Research. Once an issue captures your emotions, check it out. What are other people doing about it? How can you get involved? Is anyone else doing anything? If not, start something.

Step Five:
Write a check. I know that sounds simplistic, but many existing organizations that are working on issues near and dear to you are always hurting for money as much as they are hurting for volunteers. In our society, money is powerful and important. Even if all you give is $10 a month, that’s a dependable base they can use to get thigs done. If you can encourage others to write checks, too, that increases their ability to get things done. If there’s no existing organization to address your cause, create an organization and write a check to it. The rest of the badge steps assume there’s no existing organziation for your cause. You can claim your badge now if you’ve worked with an organization that supports your cause for a 6 months. Or, if there’s no existing organziation, you can proceed and claim your badge after you’ve created an organziation or taken care of your cause.

Step Six:
Now that you have a cause, you need to gather support for it. Create and post flyers at the library, coffee shops, or community bulletin boards that will attract other kindred souls. If your cause involves people, meet them and get their stories to share. Post persoanl ads in hte paper or on Craigslist to meet with others interested in your cause. Post in online forums or create a website for it. Set up a meeting so you can discuss skills, resources, and brainstorm ways to help the cause.

Step Seven:
Come up with a plan of action. Get together with those people you gathered in Step Six and find out what skills each has, what resources you can muster to work for your cause. Compile all of this together, and see what grows from it. Develope a chronological, doable order of actions that will help your cause. If you’re going to rescue frozen, abandoned dogs, who has space to house them, how much money can you raise to feed them, is there a vet who will donate skills to heal and vaccinate and neuter the dogs? How will you find them new homes? What will you dowith them if you can’t find a home? Work it out. be the first to write a check for your cause so you and your group can afford to do the things you visualized and planned.

Step Eight:
Do it!

Step Nine:
Claim your badge!

Some Resources:


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