By Mark Horler, Simpol supporter, blogger and networking officer.
In the early part of this year Barnaby and I had the chance to meet up in London with a lovely lady called Marie-Claire from fluke photography. The project was (and is) a multimedia collaborative event called ‘We Are Activists’. This is part of a larger program of media and art events taking place in Liverpool this year. In particular it is part of the look2011 photographic festival. Below is the blog piece I wrote today for their website.
I discovered this project quite by chance when Marie-Claire left a message on a facebook group looking for participants. As quite a young and relatively small organisation, any publicity opportunity is worth grabbing hold of. That we can, in doing so, be part of such a great, collaborative, mutimedia cultural project is a major bonus.
For reasons of geographical convenience we agreed to meet in London. It was a typically rainy day so we retired to a coffee house and sat and had a chat about what Simpol is, what it means and what it does. We then tried very hard not to look at the camera as we got photographed and, mostly, we succeeded!
The reason we were so excited about being part of this project was (and is) that the internet and social media are so important to what we and other organisations are doing these days. The internet and social networking sites in particular are incredibly important because they provide a low or even zero cost way for small organisations to get the word out.
Perhaps more importantly, the internet is also the beacon of inclusiveness in our time and Simpol is root and branch dedicated to the principle of inclusiveness. As an organisation in which the people set the policy agenda the ability to be inclusive and for everybody to be able to participate in creating that agenda is absolutely central to what we do. The We Are Activists project represents that perfectly in that it gives a variety of small organisations and campaigning individuals the opportunity to speak about what they do.
This particular project also puts a nice twist on the subject of campaigning. Too often people are put off from campaigning and getting involved by preconceived ideas about activists. Many people, when asked what an activist is, would probably immediately think of that ‘swampy’ guy who lived in a tunnel at the Newbury Bypass protests a few years back. The stereotypical view of an activist is probably someone with dreadlocks, in a pair of grubby combat trousers, smoking a roll-up in a field somewhere. But the truth is of course much more complex. Activists are,. as shown so brilliantly by this project, just ordinary people like you and me who believe strongly enough in something to act upon it. They come from all walks of life and there is NO actvist stereotype in reality!
We hope that this project will help spread the word about Simpol and encourage more people to participate in what could be a long term solution to global politics. But we also hope that it will simply encourage more people to get out there and campaign on issues that are important to them.
In the end whether people choose to join and organisation or to set up their own, there is a gradual re-awakening of political consciusness going on in this country at the moment. That awakening is what will drive the changes that need to be made. People power is making a comeback and We Are Activists represents that perfectly!