10 Ways to be an Activist from Your Couch
Activism has always been the root of social change throughout history, but as modern technology has expanded our options of communication we have seen the rise of "slacktivism". Slacktivism's definition has a strongly negative connotation, "the practice of supporting a political or social cause by means such as social media or online petitions, characterized as involving very little effort or commitment". In the past few months we have seen the complete turn around of this term, and true benefits of slacktivism. Due to the global pandemic, city lockdowns, and new variations of the virus, people are wanting to venture out less and less, but his doesn't mean they don't want to still be involved and make changes. This pandemic has highlighted so many issues we are facing as a society, such as food shortages, disproportionate job layoffs for BIPOC, and a surge in the number of homeless communities. This is the perfect time to find a topic you are passionate about helping and start supporting organizations who align with your values.
If you want to get involved, but aren't sure how, check out my top 10 activist actions you can do right from your couch in your pajamas, safe from catching or spreading the virus:
1. Signing Petitions
Signing a petition usually takes one minute or less! I suggest subscribing to an organization you care about like ACLU, 350.org, or Green Peace. They send out email petitions at least every week, so take 5-10 minutes and review the issue back ground. Most petitions only require your name, email address and zip code to sign, and there is usually an option to opt into text alerts which would open up more options for you to get involved as well!
2. Text Banking
Text banking is powerful, with the majority of individuals owning a cell phone today, reaching out massive amounts of people has never been easier. I participated in text banking under the Greenpeace organization for both the Presidential and the Georgia Special elections. It is literally as easy as turning on your computer and pressing a few buttons, all your responses are auto generated, and resource information is built into the response so you don’t have to be an expert in the topic for the text banking.
There are def a lot of people that will request to opt out, and a couple might even be rude, but having a handful of conversations with people that are supportive make the whole experience worth it!
The same organizations I suggested for signing petitions also have groups that actively text bank.
3. Calling representatives
Find your state and local representatives here!
Create a cheat sheet before you call your representative: pick an issue and choose your stance. When calling, you will probably be asked to leave a message with an aid instead of talking directly with the person, feel free to simply leave them a message with your name, zip code, issue and stance... that's it, no debating or convincing, just let them know your thoughts.
Bonus: most elected officials send out weekly or monthly emails, sign up for those! Not only will you get to know more about the elected official they will also include information on upcoming voting topics and (virtual) events to attend.
4. Phone Banking
So phone banking is definitely the most hands on couch action on this list, but once you try it, you can easily see how it can be the most rewarding. Most phone banking is organized so that you are calling people that already have similar views as you. I participated in phone banking for Elizabeth Warren before the presidential primary elections. My group was calling democrats that had voted in previous years, to gage their support and/or insecurities with EW. Everything was done through the computer, there was no manual calling, and all the questions were on the computer screen, we just had to select the response. I was able to have some really positive conversations during my phone banking experience.
The same organizations I suggested for signing petitions also have groups that actively phone bank.
5. Donate Money (specifically to bail funds)
Put your money where your beliefs are! If you have the ability to donate money please do, there are so many organizations out there (check out this directory of nonprofits) find an organization that aligns with your beliefs and show them some love! Don’t forgot you can also specifically request where your money is used, for example if you were donating to Youth Services for Oklahoma County, you could stipulate that your funding goes only to children between the ages of 13 and 18 who have been affected by human trafficking. The corporation is required to only use that money for the specific request. Further insuring you are helping in the specific areas you wish to.
Even if you can't be on the front lines protesting, don't forget you can also donate to groups that specifically help protestors make bail after they have been arrested. Donating to groups like this and this make a huge difference!
6. Host a Fundraiser (on Facebook)
I hosted a birthday fundraiser on FB for the first time this year, and was shocked both by all my friends and family who wanted to support and how easy it was! I decided to pick Black Votes Matter to help support over coming voter suppression for the GA senate races.
Its important to know how FB processes these payments and the timeframe to which the non profit is paid out, specific information here. If you don’t want to use FB, sites like GoFundMe are an option or you could set up your own. Check out this guide from Eventbrite for more tips.
7. Diversify Who/What Media you Ingest
Who you follow on social media, read and watch make a huge impact on your life, but it also makes a huge impact on theirs. Supporting BIPOC activists, creatives, writers, chefs, dancers, actors, etc. will help validate the work they should be recognized for, and it will expand your base knowledge of the world as well.
Check out the latest Vegan Activist Guide I put together on IG here!
8. Vote (Mail in)
Find out how you can participate in mail in voting here. Trust me, after being required to only do mail in voting while living in Portland, I realized I love it! I was able to sit down review all the candidates, complete all my research at a time convenient to me, and feel really good about the decision I made on who to select. Voting is such an important aspect of our community, so don't forget to vote even if you prefer to go in person!
9. Attend Virtual Town Halls
Town halls are fascinating! They usually have participants that are incredibly passionate about a topic in attendance. This results in both a captivating meeting and a possibility to learn about a new group/issue (and join them if they align with your values). You can find information about your local townhalls when researching your local representatives.
10. Discuss Issues on your Platform
Yes you have a platform, even if you have one follower, you still have a platform! After I completed my first No Waste November Challenge, I was shocked when someone would write a comment saying they enjoyed what I posted, I was so mentally prepared for everyone to hate it. That positivity spurred me to continue posting and sharing what I am passionate about today. When you post about something you care about, people listen, and it could also be informing them of something they weren't familiar with before. So don't be afraid, share what you care about!
Let me know how you get involved in you local community during this time!
Thanks for reading! -Sadie