So far in this series, we’ve talked about donations, volunteering and online activism. I hope you’ve found a few new things to try. For those of you already past the initiation stage, I’m going to talk a little about next steps.
What happens when donating and volunteering don’t feel like enough? That means you’re ready to take the next step and move closer to the role of a more traditional activist. Many organizations have local chapters and it is through these local chapters that you can get more involved. It’s also a great way to meet other people with the same interests in your own city. You can participate as much or as little as you want in activities ranging from letter writing campaigns to working at a table in a street fair to meeting with local and state politicians.
As I’ve said before, you don’t need to be rich, famous or connected to do this. Being popular doesn’t make you an expert. Knowing the facts does. Anyone with a passion for something has the ability to become an activist. A majority of us are just average people doing this in our spare time. The longer you work with the issue the more you learn and the more you know the more opportunities you will have to get involved.
So how do you find these local groups? If you have an organization in mind start with their website and look for events or local meetings. If you don’t have an organization name but know the topic or situation you want to focus on then hop on the computer and do a search. For example, type in “anti-death penalty events in San Mateo” or “immigration rights protest in Toronto”. Chances are it will lead you to a website or Facebook page where you can get more information. If walking into a group of strangers intimidates you then bring along a buddy. The more the merrier!
The world is a hotbed of opportunity for an activist. My personal list contains at least a dozen different issues and most people I know are the same way. However, none of us have unlimited time or energy so we keep our focus on only a few. Every now and then, I will read a story that doesn’t directly relate to my core issues but burns my brownies nonetheless and I have to do something. Instead of taking on another issue, I make a revenge donation.
What are revenge donations? A perfect example was floating around the internet recently. A group infamous for unbridled hatred and bigotry, Westboro Baptist Church (WBC), decided to stage an anti-LGBT protest at Vassar College last month. The students and local community wanted to strike back so in addition to staging a counter protest they set up a campaign to encourage donations to The Trevor Project. Before it was over not only did the counter protestors outnumber the WBC members but Trevor Project received over $100,000 in donations from people fed up with WBC and its theology of ignorance.
That is what I mean by revenge donations. Pick an organization that is already fighting the issue pissing you off and make a donation to further their efforts. Let them carry on the fight while you focus on other things. Dumping more anger and hatred into a situation already teeming with it won’t fix the problem. Instead, counteract the negative energy with a positive response. The next time you hear a story that pisses you off don’t get mad. Follow Vassar’s example and get even!
Next week: getting up close and personal with the lives you change…and no, it doesn’t involved traveling to Africa to live in a hut.