The One Thing Every Activist Should Know

06/20/2017 06:38 pm ET Updated Jun 23, 2017
The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn. -Alvin Toffler

A major catalyst for positive change involves understanding an issue and those whom the issue affects. Through deep understanding and dialogue we can dismantle the beliefs that created the problem to relearn new solutions. Since there is no better person to understand a problem than those affected by that problem, the most impactful and sustainable solutions involve community-driven grassroots action. Great activists know that communities need to drive the conversation for change, not just be a part of it.

Sahas, Mona and Purvi Yadav

Activists rooted in the community they are helping are the most effective people to drive the conversations that address taboo issues. The Nirbhaya rape case in Delhi in 2012, which shed light on womens’ struggles to end the rape culture in India and the denial of its existence, inspired Purvi Yadav into action. She became dedicated to ending gender-based violence in India and decided to tackle it at the root. She knew that puberty, menstruation and sexual health are not topics regularly discussed in India, and that these taboos harbor sexual abuse, sexism, gender-based violence and shame. Purvi, along with Mona Yadav, co-founded the initiative Sahas, which provides adolescents with information they need to understand the shifts their bodies are going through as they become adults. Mona and Purvi believe that youth who are aware and well informed about their bodily changes and functions become adults who are sufficiently empowered to challenge injustice and the corresponding shame many victims endure.

Fundación el origen

Creating spaces for dialogue and education allow organic community-driven solutions to take shape, and they can transform how communities see themselves and each other. While Purvi and Mona use sexual education to help community members understand the issues they face, Fundación el Origen uses a mobile arts school that travels through La Guajira, Colombia, where one of the largest indigenous populations in South America resides. This organization creates space through music and art to promote cultural exchange and cultivate conversations about sustainable economic development alternatives, peace, leadership, human development and cultural preservation.

Permaculture action network

When communities come together to understand their problems and engage in solutions, the shift can be transformational. Creating spaces for these types of dialogues is pivotal in allowing them to take place. And that is what makes projects that promote community spaces and collaboration so important. Permaculture Action Network works at the intersection of art, music, and regenerative culture that offer people a pathway to take action locally wherever they live. They “mobilize diverse audiences to build a regenerative and just world while pushing community and ecological justice to the center of society’s cultural narrative.” Permaculture Action Network has been genius at creating a duplicatable model that invites volunteers from all walks of life to unite in creating edible gardens and community spaces that inspire resilience and co-existence.

Regardless if the space created is permanent, temporary or a traveling one, as long as the conversations around change and progress are led by the community being affected by the problem, the solutions have a greater chance of being well received and sustained by the community that is practicing them. This is what effective activists understand about change and this is what will transform our communities. As community leader Kinnear Mlowoka from Malawi stated in his grant application to us “if there is community action there will be global impact.”

Beyond these movements lies a global network of projects that we have proudly supported over the years. Here are a few more we funded the last two weeks:

Sustainable Forest Management and Livelihood Improvement Project in Malawi harnesses the power of community action by protecting watershed catchment areas to provide safe and portable water for their communities. The group believes that if there is community action, global impact will follow.

Medical Service Trip, based in Canada helps medical volunteers find volunteering trips through an database that lists and rates the quality of each project in hopes of encouraging short-term volunteers to continue to help and create positive outcomes for host communities abroad.

Creating Compassion Workshops founded by David Walega, uses art to work with people living in Skid Row Housing Trust in Los Angeles California and addresses the interconnections between marginalized people and animals who are also excluded from the circle of care by much of our society.

No Strings Attached: Planting the Seeds for Next Generation Musicians is a project in San Diego California whose main goal is to reach out to schools and community centers that lack funding for music programs and offer a lecture on self-taught discipline and self- teaching methods so aspiring musicians can foster their art.

Creating E-Learning Resources on Human Rights is a joint initiative between the Asian Institute for Human Rights (AIHR) and Betelvine Learning. The project aims to create e-learning resources on human rights knowledge and skills that can enable people to apply human rights to their own lives and the world around them.

Women’s Refugee Care, founded by Aline Binyungu Nzigire, provides a three month program that allows newly resettled refugee families a smooth adaptation into their new communities and builds the social and life skills need to succeed in the American society.

The Computer Learning Center in Janakpur is an initiative created by Alisha Chhetri and Nand Kishor Mandal to help marginalized youth of Janakpur becomee digitally literate in hopes of combating high unemployment rates.

Women For A Culture Of Peace And Social Empowerment based in Mexico, trains low income women and their sons and daughters in human development and artistic activities that contribute to a culture of peace in the areas of mental health and nutrition, peace, and social empowerment.

JustCare Development Initiative, founded by Dennis Akagha and Chinasa Imo, is creating an HIV-free future through entrepreneurship and programs and by discouraging stigma and discrimination among young people living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.

Lafonbelle Permanent Vegetable and Tree Nursery, ran by Bertin and Ghislene Meance, will address the difficulties Haitian farmers have finding seeds and seedlings of vegetables right in their own community. Addressing food insecurity issues and economic development in the region.

Strengthening of the Cultural Identity project will strengthen the cultural identity of the indigenous women displaced from the Awá community due to violent conflict in the region and developing economic livelihood projects that rescue values and traditions of crafts that are part of the identity and cultural richness of its people.

Where do you fit?

The world is motivated. Motivated for change and forward movements. We at The Pollination Project accept applications everyday of the year and invite you to become part of a community of doers by submitting your idea for grassroots change. As said by Lindley, “To create better relationships with each other, ourselves, and the Earth, each of us must use our power to take creative action for our individual and collective liberation.”

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