You’re not alone in wanting to create change. All around Europe people are rising up and taking a stand for democracy and climate justice. Here you will find just a few of their stories, going beyond what you read in the news, and delving into the tactics, tools and personal motivation of those involved. Be inspired by changemakers who put their tools and strategies to the test!
“YOU CAN SHOW YOUR RESISTANCE IN MANY DIFFERENT WAYS”
When freedom of assembly is restricted, and many human rights activists are detained, LGBTI+ activists need to get creative to get their message across! Metehan was a part of forming a solidarity group in 2008 called LISTAG (Families and Friends of LGBTI+ in Turkey). This group grew out of a supportive community of parents adjusting to their children coming out. In a traditional society where family is highly valued, parents of LGBTI+ children can open up new doors and even stand in the frontlines of Pride parades doing what every parent can relate to: protecting their kids.
To help spread the word, LISTAG crowdfunded a documentary film in 2013 called “My Child”, where 7 parents of LGBTI+ youth openly stood in front of the camera and told their story. Using the sponsors of the crowdfunding as a network of supporters, the group managed to spread the word far and wide and host screenings not just in Turkey but also the Balkans. To this day, it is still a powerful tool that kids can use to come out to their parents and challenge cultural norms. Despite the repression of Pride parades, LISTAG continues to mobilise in solidarity and support in Turkey today.
About Hasan Metehan Ozkan: Hasan Metehan Ozkan is an LGBTI+ activist from Turkey. He is one of the initiators and current coordinator of LISTAG (Families and Friends of LGBTI+ in Turkey). LISTAG is known from its feature documentary “My Child” where parents of LGBTI+ share their stories with the public and where Metehan was the co-producer. He is currently studying at the University of Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona at the Department of History as a PhD Student and working on “Families of LGBTI+”
“USING A LITTLE IMAGINATION AND COMBINING ONLINE AND OFFLINE STRATEGIES, YOU CAN DELIVER A BIG WIN FOR YOUR CAMPAIGN!”
Fossil Free Uppsala is a student-led campaign that did everything by the book as they pushed their university to divest from fossil fuels. They did their research, started a petition, sent open letters from faculty, and held seminars with climate researchers. However when more and more people sided with the students, the university tried a new tactic; doing nothing. By staying quiet, refusing to take meetings or even listen to student demands, they thought they could stonewall the students into giving up.
Fortunately, this tactic didn’t work. The students got together and decided that they would have to cause some trouble. Looking through the university calendar they found, a high profile event that the prestigious university holds dear. With nothing more than some banners, theatrics and creativity they showed up at the event putting divestment in the spotlight, and leveraged their global support online into a Twitter storm! Just days later the university leadership were the ones asking for a meeting. While the university hasn’t achieved a full divestment yet, the team has put the issue on the agenda and are well on the way of achieving their goals!
About Guy Finkill: Guy Finkill is a climate activist engaged in the fossil fuel divestment movement. From engaging in climate negotiations to shutting down coal mines with thousands in mass acts of civil disobedience, Guy is always exploring new ways to make an impact. Currently he is a course coordinator at Uppsala University and is, in his spare time, the university coordinator for Fossil Free Sweden.
“YOU CAN SHOW YOUR RESISTANCE IN MANY DIFFERENT WAYS”
Stop Evictions is a people’s solidarity movement against evictions in Spain. It is a collective movement that through assemblies and various kinds of action, mobilizes people to protest evictions and stand in support of families that are in danger of losing their homes. Their ultimate goal is to change the system that is causing the evictions and to achieve this they have to stand up against the economic interests that are depriving people of their homes.
A key to their success has been their willingness to both take direct action against evictions as well as work within the parliamentary system. They organize protests in front of the houses of families that are to be evicted, where they defend homes with their bodies. These direct actions go hand in hand with their laborious political and legal work, through which they are aiming to change the housing laws.
About Mercedes Revuelta: Mercedes Revuelta is an activist for the right to housing, a member of the Stop Evictions movement and PAH, a graduate in Information Sciences and a small independent entrepreneur.
THE BIG PICTURE
The way we think about power is wrong. We are told that change comes from politicians or CEOs, that you are powerless to create change. But throughout history we have seen changemakers and movements shift the balance towards justice and democracy. In these big picture videos experienced practitioners in the movement will share the theory behind social change.
WITH LIMITED TIME AND RESOURCES, WE NEED TO PLAN CAREFULLY TO MAXIMIZE OUR IMPACT.
Fossil Free Uppsala is a student-led campaign that did everything by the book as they pushed their university. How do you change the world for the better? You start with a campaign. In this video Dima, an experienced campaigner, explains how massive campaigns are designed and executed from his experience within a global NGO. However, while the scope and resources available differ greatly, the same design principles apply in any campaign. Whether you are standing up for LGBTQ rights at your local university or stopping a polluting factory, you can use Dima’s experience as inspiration and building blocks for your campaign.
First, you need to know how the world works and what future you want to create. This is your vision. Secondly you need to do your homework, learn about the issue and figure out who has the power to create the change you want to see. This is your campaign goal; what specific law, policy, or event you want to change.
Based on these insights on who has the power, you design your strategy and implement tactics that will move the target towards the direction that you want. Communication is an integral part of campaign strategy, as you want the right audience to hear your message and use their influence to move your target to make the right decision.
About Dima Litvinov: Dima is a russian born, US citizen, living in Sweden, currently working as a campaigner for Greenpeace. In 1979 he blockaded the steps to Congress to protest draft registration and has been an environmental and social justice activist since.
WHEN WE ACT LOCALLY, WE ACT GLOBALLY, BUT ONLY IF WE CAN CONNECT TO OTHERS IN THE MOVEMENT.
The problems we face seem massive, and we as individuals seem insignificant in the face of them. How can we solve global issues from our own backyard? Well, you start local. Find a cause or a problem you can solve in your community and get engaged! Very often, local movements don’t know what happens in other regions or other countries and feel isolated. This is why it is important to meet with other groups, find out about different struggles, talk to one another and learn from each other.
Get inspired about how and why connecting a local struggle to a global movement through the example of the network of Gastivists , grassroots groups fighting against gas in different locations around the world. Their power lies in their connection: each local group, no matter how small, is part of a wider global movement.
About Noelie Audi-Dor: Noelie Audi-Dor is engaged in social and climate justice organising in Europe. She co-started the Gastivists Collective and is on the team of Consented, an independent education and media platform.
HOW ACTS OF CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE CAN CHANGE THE WORLD.
Most people believe that power is something that comes from above, exercised from for example governments. People believe that governments have the power and that we are powerless in the face of crisis. However throughout history, our collective consciousness and the rule of law have at times drifted apart.
At these times civil disobedience has an important role to defend the earlier. Nonviolent movements have been instrumental in shaping our world for centuries and recent studies even show that they are twice as likely to be successful as armed struggles.
Professor Stellan Vinthagen shares insights on the history and power of non-violent direct action and Anna-Maria shares her experience of the first time she took part in a non-violent action, what it meant to her and what it means for people’s basic human rights that people continue to stand up.
About Anna-Maria Renner: Anna-Maria is a grassroots engagement coordinator for Greenpeace Greece with a lots of experience in taking non-violent direct action for the climate and for social justice.
About Stellan Vinthagen: Stellan is Endowed Chair in the Study of Nonviolent Direct Action and Civil Resistance and Professor of Sociology at University of Massachusetts, Amherst
and at University of Gothenburg.