Everyday Activism

Are you ready to learn how you can have an impact on and change the world with everyday activism? Explore this Quest to help you take action!

What is Activism?

Activism is the use of direct action to achieve social, economic, cultural, or political change. It can take many forms but starts with the knowledge that something in the world needs to change then influencing the people who can make that change.

“There is no one type of activist or one type of activism.”

…And there is no minimum age to be an activist! Youth activists are making changes around the world.

Here are some common areas of activism:

  • Equity, social justice, and anti-racism
  • Feminism
  • Animal rights
  • LGBTQIA+ issues and trans rights
  • Consumer issues
  • Environment and climate change
  • Mental health awareness
  • Economic systems
  • Human Rights
  • Disability rights and neurodiversity

Are you passionate about any of these areas and want to learn and do more? Are there any ‘problems’ you see in the world that you’d like to do something about?

In this Quest, you’ll learn how to use your privilege, power, position, and voice for the greater good by taking small actions or big ones (or a combination of both!).

Types of Activism

Write

  • Write to your political representative
  • Write to a business
  • Write an opinion piece to a local newspaper

Amplify

  • Social media shares for organizations doing good work
  • Buy and wear merchandise with slogans or that support an organization
  • Share own voices and expert perspectives
  • Sign a petition

Organize

  • Organize a march or rally
  • Organize a fundraising event for an organization you support
  • Start a petition

Make Your Money Talk

  • Support organizations working in the space
  • Boycott or Buycott businesses
  • Spend your money on businesses that align with your values

Educate

  • Educate yourself on an issue
  • Share expert content on social media
  • Talk to your networks to share what you’ve learned

Hands On

  • Make a poster and participate in a march
  • Volunteer with organizations doing good work in this space
  • Create protest art

See more types of non-violent direct action in this list by the Einstein Institute:  198 methods of NVDA.

Be An Activist

It can be overwhelming thinking about how to get started. Here are some suggestions to get you started depending on how much time you have. Small changes can lead to big changes!

If you have 5 minutes…

If you have a few hours…

  • Write to or call your political representative (here and here are some tips on how to write to your representative). You’ll need to research who to contact in your own country based on what issues are handled by different levels of government
  • Write to a business to commend them on making a choice you support or ask them to change something you disagree with (examples and tips)
  • Write an opinion piece to a local newspaper
  • Educate yourself on the issue from credible sources.
  • Start a petition
  • Attend a rally, march, or protest event

If you have time to invest in a longer-term project…

  • Organize a March or rally (or another public protest event, like a sit-in, vigil, strike/picketing, or performance art)
  • Organize a fundraising event for an organization you support. Your organization might have information on their own website to support third-party fundraising
  • Volunteer with an organization doing good work in your chosen issue. Search for local organizations doing work on your chosen issue or look for national or international organizations where you can volunteer remotely. This is a great way to affect change and also meet a network for people who share your passion 
  • Create protest art (e.g., visual, performance art, poetry, spoken word, music)

What kind of activist are you?

Bill Moyer proposes four necessary roles of social activism for a successful social movement: citizen, reformer, rebel, change agent.

Where do you see yourself in this model? 

What kind of activities appeal to you? Do you like to write or do you get energized speaking to big crowds? Are you crafty? Do you like to teach others? Do you love to put your head down and do research? There is an activism activity for everyone!

Make a list of your skills, experience, and interests then consider the types of activities above. Which of these activities resonates with you and aligns with your skills, experience, and interests? 

Do you want to start small and work your way up to bigger projects or are you motivated to dive right in and think big? 

The impact and consequences of activism

Some forms of activism carry the risk of arrest. In some countries, this includes demonstrations, marches, and rallies; but in others, it can include any written or spoken dissension. You can research your local laws prior to participating so that you know your rights and the risks. The ACLU details the rights of protestors in the US. 

Heidi Reynolds-Stenson summarizes the research on the risks of activism and how a movement can mitigate those risks…

You can also see this page for further recommended reading on this research area.

Activism as a career

Activism doesn’t have to be volunteer work! Check out this list of activism jobs to see what is out there.

Still curious?

Stuck at home during the pandemic? Check out these tips on activism from home.

Watch this 1.5 hour workshop by Rowan Ellis, So, You Want to be an Activist?, and make a plan for your activism project.

Dive into this reading list to be inspired and informed in your activism.