Creative, charitable, a force for change: here's a pick of some of the key campaigns that are gearing up for action in 2017. And if you feel inspired, you can get involved too, both online and off.
While the internet has incredible possibilities for motivating, inspiring and mobilizing large groups of people, the power and pitfalls of online activism have long been subject to debate. Likes, shares and signatures are all well and good, but when it comes down to it, what is online campaigning actually able to achieve? Is a better world really ever just a click away?
While online activism is unlikely to translate into affective action offline all on its own, in recent and current campaign efforts, it has shown itself to be a useful addition to offline movements, by sharing information and updates via social media. It has also proved to be a powerful tool for spreading awareness about traditionally under-represented issues and groups. Here's a pick of projects that will hopefully be continuing that trend into 2017.
First Nation Pipeline Protests
One of the most publicized examples of an effective combination of online and offline campaigning was 2016's standoff between the US government and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe over the Dakota Access Pipeline Project (also known as #NoDAPL). While it ended up making international headlines, it only really broke in the mainstream press after videos of the protestors appeared on YouTube.
The project was cancelled in December 2016, in a rare win for the USA's indigenous community, that's not where the story ends. Other projects have already been signed off throughout North America. One example is the planned expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, which will transport tar sand oils from central to coastal Canada. To follow the campaign hoping to stop the project, visit the website of the Sacred Trust (an initiative of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation) for updates and information.
Indigenous Resistance in Ecuador
In an area of the world often under-represented by the Western media, Ecuador is currently leading the fight between indigenous peoples and multinational companies, albeit in a Latin American context. The current major conflict is between played out in the south-east of the country, between the indigenous Shuar peoples and the Ecuadorean government. A large Chinese mining company is set to open an open air copper mine in the middle of their ancestral lands, in a move that they say threatens their livelihoods.
It's a very real conflict that has so far received little attention in the Western press, but you can follow the movement on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #SOSPuebloShuar. The outcome may be surprising, so it's worth staying up to date. For a fascinating look at a landmark case in Ecuadorean history, where, finding themselves in a similar situation, an indigenous group took the actual government itself to court (and won!), check out the video below.
Using Art For Change In Washington DC
The upcoming presidential inauguration in the US has seen people mobilize in all kinds of different ways. One of the most creative of these is "We The People", the brainchild of Shepard Fairey (the artist who made the iconic blue and red posters of Obama with the subtitle "Hope") and a handful of other politically-engaged US artists. Concerned by what they see happening on their country's political scene, they've come up with a series of beautiful and powerful images that capture and represent the diversity of their America.
And while their funding campaign has been digital (they ran a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign - which aimed to raise 60,000 USD and has so-far raised over a million!) their weapon of choice is most definitely analogue. The money raised is to go towards printing their images as full-page ads in the Washington Post, which can then be hung in windows or pasted on walls, guerilla-style on inauguration day.
Fighting Misogyny in Argentina
Rates of gender violence and femicide are extremely high throughout Latin America. The #NiUnaMenos – „not one less“ protests, that originated in Argentina in 2016, (and culminated in huge demonstrations not only in Argentina but across countries in the region) allowed women to turn the tables, and to come together in solidarity as active participants in the struggle, rather than just the victims.
They demanded government funding for anti-femicide laws, more official data on the occurences of gender violence, and most importantly a change of attitude and an end to the hypermasculine culture that fuels it. The movement has already achieved so much, it will be interesting to see how it involves throughout the coming year.