By Eric Hartman
“Happy the youth who believes that his duty is to remake the world and bring it more in accord with virtue and justice, more in accord with his own heart. Woe to whoever commences his life without lunacy…” – Nikos Kazantzakis in Report to Greco
Who is doing what today to make the world a better place? Despite considerable chatter about the Me Generation, today’s young people are working – legally and illegally, through conventional means and in unprecedented ways – to advance concerns about common humanity, environmental preservation, peace, and a broad array of social issues. Often, they’re following examples of the generation that preceded them, but just as frequently they’re developing something that is entirely their own. As I prepare to co-lead a course on activism, we’re examining profiles of individuals who (1) act deliberately to (2) address an issue that transcends his or her self-interest.
We’re asking the question: what is an activist? I thought many regular readers would appreciate seeing this broad array of contemporary activist profiles, which – perhaps controversially – includes:
- Playing for Change performing Stand by Me
- Anarchists at the Toronto G-20 summit (This clip contains violence, cursing, and law-breaking)
- Milwaukee local food activist Will Allen
- Greenpeace’s recent successful and creative campaign to get Mattel to embrace more ecologically-friendly packaging
- Enough Project’s Conflict-Free Campus Campaign
- A Guardian UK interview with Pussy Riot
- Brazilian Filmmaker Julia Bacha’s Ted Talk on peace movements, press coverage, and socially conscious documentary
- A Jon Stewart Clip – “China Fear Factory” (Is Stewart an Activist?)
- Vandana Shiva’s reflections on activism
- Camila Vallego, one of the students behind the Chilean Winter of social movements and protesting, and the UK Guardian Person of the Year
- The Friends’ Committee on National Legislation – Young people reflecting on their experience and skills lobbying for peace
- Comedy Duo “Reformed Whores” response to Rush Limbaugh’s Sandra Fluke commentary
- The Growing Cities Urban Farm Film Project
- Tim DeChristopher, the University of Utah economics student who went to jail for two years for a nonviolent act of civil disobedience to protect and preserve public lands
- And finally, to share an example of organizing and activism that worked very well to create a different kind of society: How the Dutch Got Their Bicycle Paths.
As the course proceeds, we’ll be covering many different aspects of activism, including thoughtful critique of activist efforts such as exhibited in Rebecca Hamilton’s Fighting for Darfur: Public Action and the Struggle to Stop Genocide. But for the moment, we’re taking a look at this broad spectrum of examples.
What would you add?
Playing for Change:
Black bloc anarchists protest the Toronto G20 Summit:
Will Allen, local food activist, Milwaukee:
Greenpeace, Mattel & Barbie:
Conflict Free Campus:
Pussy Riot interview:
Brazilian Filmmaker Julia Bacha:
Jon Stewart, China Fear Factory (Click through to watch).
Vandana Shiva, Physicist and seed and food activist:
Camila Vallego, UK Guardian Person of the Year:
Thriller Clip (Complete video of the Thriller flash mob Vallego helped organize to protest high university costs and student indebtedness):
Young peace lobbyists with the Friends Committee on National Legislation:
Reformed Whores Response to Rush Limbaugh:
Growing Cities Urban Farm Film Project:
A visually and spiritually compelling trailer about Tim DeChristopher, Bidder 70 (Click through to watch).
How the Dutch got their bicycle paths
Today’s post is by Eric Hartman, a co-founder of this site and Visiting Assistant Professor of Global Studies at Providence College.