THE NEW ACTIVISM
‘If you’re a genuine campaigner interested in the results of your focused
effort, then it might be easier for a lot of people to be like me and be an independent – rather than trying to accommodate their timescale and their priorities inside a party organisation and the party’s natural wish to see its program put into effect.’ (Interview by Lizzie Mitchell) ■ www.margomacdonald.org
THE COMMUNITY GARDENERS Groups of residents at ten sites across Edinburgh, supported by Edinburgh Community Backgreens
Association, are venturing out into their neglected and underused shared back gardens and meeting like-minded people, creating communities and contributing to urban sustainability. The List visited one such backgreen in Marchmont on the day of the rather exciting sounding ‘Backgreen Blitz’ – a Saturday of clearing and tidying carried out by residents, with tools and guidance on hand courtesy of ECBA.
GLOBAL ACTIVISM There couldn’t be a better time to get involved in some weighty issues on a global scale, as Claire Ritchie discovers
T he Make Poverty History
campaign garnered worldwide attention back in 2005 thanks to the involvement of Messrs Martin, Bono et al. It’s still going strong, though, and they need support to pressure the politicians and decision makers into helping make poverty history. makepoverty history.org. Similarly, the Jubilee Debt Campaign continues to ask the world’s governments to Drop the Debt, and they featured prominently at this year’s Glastonbury Festival: jubileedebt campaign.org.uk
Community is the key word for this project, Anti-Slavery International works at
perhaps much more so than gardening or environment. Founder Greig Robertson points out that, with up to 20 households on a stair, and perhaps 300 around a block, tenements are comparable in population with a decent sized village, and if they were villages, they would have a shop, a church, perhaps a pub. While it is unrealistic to expect that we will soon
all be living in idyllic little urban villages, chewing the fat with the neighbours as we harvest some of the early asparagus of a summer’s evening, ECBA’s founder wants to see people talking, socialising, organising things on a small, local scale, for themselves and their neighbours and not for profit. What stands out about ECBA in contrast with other environmental projects is that it focuses on this community culture.
Another helper at the Backgreen Blitz volunteer Ben, explains his reasoning for participating: ‘the solution to most of the things I’m worried about is on a community level’. ECBA is about scaling everything down – our entertainment, energy, food and communities – and creating things for ourselves rather than waiting to be provided for. It’s not about total self-sufficiency, but it is about reclaiming our independence. (Laura Ennor) ■ www.ecba.org.uk
local, national and international levels to eliminate all forms of slavery around the world. You can help by donating hard cash, joining the campaign network or organising an event to raise funds. www.antislavery.org
From pandemics to dolphin hunting, low-impact farming to clean water campaigns, find out more about the issues of the day – and learn how to get involved – at Take Part, takepart.org, a worldwide blog-cum-forum about the hottest topics facing our planet today. ‘If not you, who? If not now, when?’ So goes the motto of activism.net, an online activism resource kit, covering issues as diverse as sexuality and cyber rights, privacy and the war on drugs.
Countdown 2010 is a global campaign that has
been running since the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002. Aiming to ‘achieve by 2010 a significant reduction in the current rate of loss of biological diversity’, they could have their work cut out for them without your help. countdown2010.net
From all-encompassing global issues to a much more localized and sinister one. The Mines Advisory Group (MAG) works in current and former conflict zones to clear the remnants of those conflicts – namely landmines – helping countries to rebuild and develop their social and
economic potential. MAG has worked in around 35 countries since 1989, mainly in south-east Asia and Africa but also in the Middle East. maginternational.org On a lighter – but still important – note, check
out Adbusters, a not-for-profit, reader-supported magazine based in Vancouver, Canada. Concerned about the erosion of our physical and cultural environments by commercial forces, their work has been embraced by organizations like Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace. adbusters.org The ways in which you can change your world are many and various, and the above are just for starters. You could also take part in Buy Nothing Day (November) buynothingday.co.uk or support the idea behind TV Turnoff Week whitedot.org or tv. The next switch-off week is in September – go on, you can do it! Or perhaps you could join the political party of your choice and take action against the status quo. Above all, talk to folk about your ideas, your world view, your hopes for the future. It might be that other people feel the same way . . .
THE GOOGLE ACTIVIST Even if standing for government or gluing yourself to the Prime Minister isn’t quite up your street, there’s bound to be something to spark your inner activist. Here are a few starters
If you want to campaign on the big issues greenpeace.org.uk foe.co.uk (Friends of the Earth) antislavery.org cancerresearchuk.org childline.org.uk rspca.org.uk howardleague.org (Howard League for Prison Reform) For insightful movies on the activism topics du jour takeoneaction.org.uk For a much, much, much less corporate society Reclaim the Streets rts.gn.apc.org Whatever your cause, for advice on fundraising visit fundraising.co.uk doitforcharity.com And to set up your own sponsorship website justgiving.co.uk
If you want to ditch the car and need a support group to keep you pedalling sustrans.org.uk To get involved in Leith’s community arts centre outoftheblue.org.uk For the gardenless and the brave, there are allotments fedaga.org.uk And if you want your
gardening to benefit the community greenerleith.org And finally, a rather different piece of online activism. This website is trying to transform the way we use copyright on the net by providing a forum where work can be shared without the threat of legal reprisals creativecommons.org
24 THE LIST 23 Jul–6 Aug 2009