Public and Design Activism

When it comes to public activism, I’ve got to stop being a child, and stop being scared of voicing my opinion. It’s my responsibility as a citizen to showcase myself as a change-maker, to try and improve our society in whatever way I can. Change making is about 3 things; advocacy, activism and agency. To be a change-maker you have to understand these 3 concepts. 

Advocacy: to fight for somebody. Where someone can’t achieve a better quality of life, and you step in to lobby on their behalf. For example, when did women get to vote? When did they become equal? The answer, they still aren’t equal! Look at Julia Gillard. When does a man in politics get harshly judged based on their body shape, hair colour, dress sense or tone of voice? 

Activism: anything that you do has been fought and won for you. What are you doing to give back? If nothing – are you guilty? People need to have a bleeding heart, to connect to the things inside you that drive your passion and ignite your sense of irritation. You’re no different than the people before you. You can make a difference too. The fact that people don’t care is an accidental mistake. Ask an Architect what he thinks of women being allowed on the front line. He’ll probably tell you that he doesn’t care or doesn’t have an opinion – and that is a problem. To make a real change in this world, people need to give a damn. They need to show care and compassion towards people or things that are happening in the world. These issues aren’t going to resolve themselves by people living in their own little bubble, only being concerned by the trivial problems in their lives. We have to be active public citizens. 

Agency: I’m not a nobody. I can say things – and if they’re wrong – at least they’re out there. When you feel like you can achieve something, you are an agent. We are agents for change. Statistics show that approx. 80% of refugees live in 3rd world countries. And what do we do? We put up walls, barriers between ‘them’ and ‘us’. What do poor people do? They welcome them with open arms, tell them to come and join the party. Take Tibet for example, some people left and went to India, no worries. Some people stayed. Why don’t we accept them? Because that’s the kind of people we are. 

Public Activism is not just about going and yelling stuff out in protesting mobs when you’re feeling overcome by anger or disgust. It’s about the small stuff too. As Soumitri professed “Be empathetic not pathetic”. If you’re walking along the street and a homeless person is asking for money, should you just chuck them 70 cents from your back pocket and keep walking? No. Have you got time to give to them? If so, tell them the story of your life. Share something with them. Be a person and treat them like you would your mate next door. Let’s be honest people, it’s likely to be 5 minutes out of your day, but imagine what it could do for that person with whom you spoke. There are other ways that you can show public activism, from personal experience, taking part in charity based events such as the ’40 Hour Famine’ and ‘Relay 4 Life’ are unforgettable experiences that not only promote awareness within your local community, but also have great benefits in terms of aid and monetary assistance to the companies that you are supporting. For me, another form of public activism is through social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I have a large number of friends on these platforms, which I can use as an outlet for posting whatever I like. When I ‘share’ or ‘post’ or ‘tweet’ information, it is potentially seen by a vast number of young people. Instead of scrolling through a lot of rubbish on Facebook in particular, people could be learning about current world issues, as well as opportunities to be involved in their community. 

Design Activism is a tool that could potentially be very powerful, and make a difference in the way that people do or interact with everyday things. A designer is someone who is fundamentally radical. Everyone knows that we are a consumerist society battling monumental issues of climate change and global warming. Design strategies can be put into place to elicit behaviour change in consumers. Critical thinking in terms of sustainability and service design are two areas that I have recently spent a lot of time learning about. It is paramount that not only designers, but also citizens, are thinking about ways of living more sustainably, for it is our loved ones living in the future that will pay the price of our polluted earth. It is the responsibility of everyone to change the we way live and consume and dispose of things. It is not acceptable to be spoon fed, only knowing what you’ve been taught. We need to be porous individuals, constantly soaking in news and technology and squeezing out thought, feelings, and scope for change. 

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