Earth Day Series 2) Get Involved by Speaking Up! With 19 Interesting Ideas April 27, 2022 Reading Time: 5 min Share1TweetPinShare1 SharesThe changes our planet needs go beyond changing how we buy and shopping more kindly: we need to change the way our societies work. And a great way to do this is to advocate, campaign and take action (eg. volunteer) on things that matter to you—within your work/organization or local government. But first, an important shift And one important shift we need to make is in how we see ourselves—and crucially—each other. As far back as I can remember I have believed: That humans are fundamentally good/kind/helpful/compassionate. And: That what leads leads us to behave in less kind/good ways is our life experiences and negative beliefs about ourselves/others and the world. When I see someone behaving unkindly, unpleasantly or worse my question is always: What could have happened that would make them do/think/behave like that? I’ve been called naive, soft, “too young” to know what the world is really like. But I do know. And yes, while humans are capable of terrible, terrible things. I don’t think that’s who we are. And I don’t ‘buy in’ to the view we have been given of our fellow humans as lazy, selfish and ultimately bad. Instead I think our society, sometimes damaged dictators—and capitalism in particular—has encouraged fear, division, individualism, selfishness and greed. And that is the problem, not humans as a species. So, what has any of this to do with making change? Well, it’s easier to make change when we see each other as essentially good and worth making the effort for. In other words: If we believe people are fundamentally good, then resistance, speaking up and making a difference is worthwhile. And these are learnable skills… We get better with practice! All too often we assume no-one else cares… But then we speak up, and find out that there are others like us. That other people care too. We all sat there thinking no-one else cared… Corporations, our governments and media companies are happy for us to go about our lives not questioning what they tell us—and what they do (or don’t do). But just because it’s legal, or makes “financial sense” doesn’t make it right. And silence is conveniently taken to mean that we agree. So if you disagree, let our governments, corporations and media outlets know. If enough of us do it, things (usually, eventually) shift. What changes could you make in your world? Where could you speak up, advocate for others, call attention to bad practices? Where could you make suggestions or lead the charge for improvements? What in your life or work could be better? Here are 10 Ways to Get Started The 4 easiest ways to get started Simply talk to friends and colleagues about things you think are important. You may be surprised that other people feel the same way! Learn more about an issue you are interested in. What gets in the way of it being fixed? Who would benefit if it was fixed? Who (if anyone) would “lose out”? What other stakeholders are impacted? What is the ‘history’ behind the issue? How did we end up here? What fears do people have? What are the benefits (and to whom) of things staying just how they are? Write an email expressing your concerns/wish for change to someone who matters. Write a letter to your local newspaper. And 6 more ways to begin to make a difference Talk to friends and/or colleagues and start a group for a specific objective. You could meet in person, bring coffee and cake or at a bar/restaurant (most likely to be fun and easier to build relationships). Or it could be an online Facebook or other online Group/discussion forum. Write an article on your own blog, or submit an article to a blog. Create a poster outlining the issue and change you want and put it up where lots of people will see it. Hold a sit in. It doesn’t have to be for long, just long enough to draw attention from those who matter. Start a petition. Change.org is a great place to do this. Volunteer at an organization that is doing something towards to what you would like to see changed. And, whether it’s an organization or local government, here are some more areas and ways you can care, speak up and influence the way the world works for the better! 5 Areas Where You Could Help Change Organizations from Within If you work for a larger organization, consider working to make your organization more green or to be a better place to work for everyone. We need people to signal to organizations that we want change. Advocate for: Better childcare facilities. More flexible working hours for parents—and for all. Easy ways to “green your organization”. Campaign to: Stop using single use “pod” and similar coffee machines. Super convenient? Yes! Wasteful? Yes, that too. Stop using bottled water and single-use plastics. Use recycled paper in printers, refillable pens and pencils. Print on both sides of the paper (duplex printing). Encourage car-pooling. Work one day a week from home (even once the pandemic is over). Diversity training for all. Yes, there are many, over-sensitive “woke” people out there. But discrimination and prejudice is a real issue, and we can always learn more. Decolonization. Yes, it’s a thing. Learn about the indigenous population in your country (or in countries that your country colonized) and what actually happened. 4 Ways to Get Involved Locally Accessing our country’s government may be out of reach for many of us, but there are plenty of ways to get involved locally in municipal/local politics. It may not be sexy or exciting, but this is where you CAN make a difference! Get to know your local MP. Let them know your priorities. And when they do something good, applaud or thank them. Ask your local government body what is being done about things that bother you locally. You could also find out if anyone else feels the same way and team up! Want more public transport? Bike lanes and footpaths? Garbage tidied up? Screening around a work site? To stop local industrial pollution? A better curriculum or safety in schools? There’s probably a group looking at that! Speak up! Talk amongst friends, with acquaintances, groups you belong to, or at local government meetings for what you want to see. Or Volunteer on a local committee that is doing something. See the very end of this article for a grey box with examples of some of the things my hubbie and I have done. Wrap-up We have a lot more power than we realise—especially when we group together. And whilst I am not a fan of Social Media, there are some things it’s good for—like connecting like-minded people. You are needed. What you think and what you value, matters. You matter. Remember that our silence is often taken as agreement or acceptance. There is power in letting people know that you see things differently! What will you do? Get Involved. Care. Go Make a Difference! If you liked this article, you may also like: Earth Day 2022: Why Making a Difference is Good for Us (with 7 Tips to Make it Enjoyable!) Earth Day Series 1: 8 Things You Can do to Shop More Kindly! Or these Beautiful Graphics to Share for our Planet Earth (created for Earth Day but can be shared any time) Here are some examples of specific things my husband and I have done over the years: Remember it’s good to start small! Written in to the paper to express my disagreement with classist, outdated attitudes. Belonged to a work committee that gave all employees reusable water bottles. Let friends know of things I am doing to protest/complain about injustice. Ask friends to complete surveys/attend meetings. Spoken up at a Local (land use) Planning Committee Meeting about incorrect and heavy-handed enforcement of a bylaw. Then created a simple website to clarify that bylaw for local people so people would know their rights. Organized a group of people to attend a Local Planning Committee Meeting to protest the changing of a (different) bylaw. Wrote a letter to management at work signed by all those affected to request a change to our work training. Wrote an article on my blog when I was upset by mainstream media making fun of two life coaches who committed suicide. Written to my MP about local government’s lack of consultation on our community plan updates. Volunteered and gave talks in high schools on suicide prevention and stress management. Volunteered on our local Economic Development Committee. Speaking up (after the meeting—I did it kindly!) when someone from a different culture’s name was pronounced incorrectly multiple times by many different people (admin staff, fellow presenters), at an event where this person was being introduced to a large audience. 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