Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

Activism Collective

Well, I don’t know of one, it is just what I’d like to have in my life. Inspired by the Rock Doves, as well as the activists who really are.

I don’t know exactly what it would entail – depends, as always, on the others who would be interested. What I have in my mind is a network of people willing to put in time on other people’s issues in exchange for additional support on theirs.

It could be virtual, but it could also be real life help.

Like, exchanging help trapping feral cats for a letter written on behalf of whatever.

The specific exchanges are just details, the important part is the people willing to do.

That’s what I want.

The things the collective members would offer could be both general (writing letters, for example) and specific (photography, web design, research, for example).

The hard part, of course, is finding others who would be interested in something like that. It would seem that most activists would be, but…I think I’m naive that way.

I know I have two other people who are already my unofficial collective. It would simply be nice to make the idea bigger. Seems to me that we’d be more effective if we got together to get things done once in a while.

Mary posted at the beginning of the year talking about and asking our thoughts on what the “movement” would look like, if we could imagine it. I guess I’ve had it with big organizations, likely most of us have. I’ve had it with them always trying to guilt me, and yet ignoring anything I might have to say. Enough of the manipulation. Even knowing that movements don’t have to be like that, it is hard to separate out the idea of a movement from what I currently experience within this one. I want a movement that is a network, not a hierarchy. I want a movement that is simply people who can and will get together and get shit done. Together. Helping each other. Supporting. Learning, mentoring, and having a beer.

And so that is why the “activism collective” idea came up. Just add people. Any takers?



9 responses to “Activism Collective

  1. epski May 2, 2008 at 12:12 am

    I’m “down”, as “they” say.

  2. Mary Martin May 2, 2008 at 8:14 am

    I was disappointed with the response to my post about “the movement” and what it would look like. The post was linked to in several forums and there was little positive feedback. I was never proposing a PeTA for abolitionists–I was just saying we need to do more, as the “vegan education” mantra isn’t enough. I find a lot of hostility toward the idea that we need more and better strategies, and that’s surprising. Count me in, for whatever it’s worth.

    With all of that said, I don’t have the same aversion others have to organizations and hierarchy. I’ve worked with plenty of organizations that do a fantastic job, are changing lives for the better, and are changing policy. None of them have anything to do with animals, and that’s telling. I think we should be open to ideas that work–no matter where they come from–and see if perhaps they might be able to be adapted to animal rights.

  3. Lenn May 2, 2008 at 10:28 am

    When you say you “have found hostility toward the idea that we need more and better strategies”, could you be more specific? Or is there someplace on your blog where I could get a more specific idea? I would like to know what ideas have invited the hostility and what the “reasoning” is against them.

    Also, a helpful post (if you haven’t already done it) is to look at those organizations you say are successful & detail some of the things they do that we could adopt.

    For some time, I’ve been looking for a documentary or book that looks at successful movements (even the evil ones) and honestly details what they did, what worked, what didn’t. I have yet to find that book or documentary, but it would be extremely helpful to make a master plan. Because what I think I have noticed is that some very successful movements have been carried out by a relatively small number of people.

    Also, when you refer to the “vegan education” mantra (and the “we need education” mantra associated with a lot of causes), I get annoyed (at the concept, not you 🙂 ). This concept assumes that once you tell people the information that supports your cause, people will immediately & completely change their ways. It absolutely doesn’t work that way.

    One of my animal activism ideas is to mail a series pamphlets, videos, etc. about cruelty in slaughterhouses (for example) and why animals deserve to live as freely as people deserve to live. That would be the education portion. But even if the recipient of this educational material says, “I never want to eat an animal product again”, they are left wondering what to do from there. What do they eat? Where do I buy it? What comments might I get from others?

    Those who tout education as the end-all think that the person will be motivated to research the ensuing questions themselves. But that isn’t how it works. The more well-lit the path to change is, the more likely a person will make that change. The book Marketing Social Change by Alan R. Andreasen covers what strategies work and which ones don’t. Is this your thought process when you referred to the “vegan education” mantra?

    The idea sounds like a good one. The one question that came to mind was, “What if I don’t agree with the other person’s cause?” If the priority was exchanging favors, it would feel a little like sleazy politics. Am I misinterpreting the idea?

    I can see your point on big organizations. But a lot of people like to give the money and imagine that someone else is taking care of all the details. They just want to be able to feel good that they wrote a check. And having those big organizations that take checks is better than not having them, I guess. My personality makes me more of a lone wolf. And after taking care of the dozens of rescue animals that depend on me, there is no money to check-write with! I think maybe it boils down to personality. But I haven’t really analyzed big vs. small organization. My thoughts are usually on strategy and what works, based on human behavior patterns.

  4. rich May 2, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    /me raises hand to volunteer.

  5. Deb May 3, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    epski – great!

    Mary – I think a lot of us are in the same boat as I am – the AR movement being the only one we’ve really experienced, making it hard to imagine something any different than what we already know. I also think that this movement covers so many issues that it is hard to imagine a movement that effectively gave attention to all the various things we might be working to change. And so I think that a collective would be useful regardless of whatever movement, or whatever organizations that exist.

    Lenn – well, the idea of mutual aid is “voluntary reciprocal exchange of resources and services for mutual benefit”, as wiki helpfully defines it. If you don’t agree with someone else’s cause, obviously you don’t engage in an exchange with them. As for the people who aren’t activists but who give money to the big organizations, not sure what that has to do with what I’m talking about, honestly. Those organizations won’t do anything to aid me, but yeah, they’re more than happy to take money from me and anyone who will donate. That’s not going to change. My point is that they are not what I need. I need other people who are interested in helping me in exchange for whatever we decide on. And vice versa.

    Most of the activists I know are lone wolf types, pretty much by necessity, regardless of personality. And some of that goes back to the organizations, again. If something is important to you, and not to an organization, you’re on your own whether you wantd to be or not. And it is for those situations that an activism collective would be great….for those times when we need other people to join in with us. It isn’t saying that your top priority is suddenly theirs as well. It is just an agreement between individuals that if they help you out on something, you’ll do the same for them.

    rich and mary – thanks for joining in!

  6. Mary Martin May 3, 2008 at 4:43 pm


    I wrote a post in January: and it was noted on, where it was promptly not appreciated. I have experience with success in non profits I see no reason to not at least look at what makes them successful. But alas, it didn’t go over well, and I shall continue my efforts, but work as the lone wolf Deb speaks of.

  7. Elaine Vigneault May 4, 2008 at 9:22 am

    What do you think about maybe something like Freecycle or Craigslist for activism?

    I’m thinking a website that links activists through action. People could post their activist projects and others can sign up to participate. But, for example, you can’t post a message asking for help until you’ve volunteered at least once. And then, you earn ‘points’ or something for each volunteer donation, the more points you earn, the more often you can post asking for help.

  8. Cilla May 4, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    Great idea Deb!

    I’ve just joined Amnesty International Australia and am enjoying it so far.

    I believe every little bit helps….

  9. Deb May 6, 2008 at 7:47 pm

    Elaine, I’ve not put that much thought into the practicalities of communication, but certainly there needs to be some way to communicate. There’s just four of us at this point – email will work for now, maybe a yahoo group. We’ll see as time goes on. Points, though, I’m not too fond of. What holds it together, for me, is the “reciprocal exchange”, which seems obvious when it is decided between two individuals, and abstract and sort of commodified when it is reduced to points. Granted, this is what is in my head at the moment, and for a collective to work, it would need to be mutually agreed upon by the collective members, but what I had in my mind was something based on mutual aid.

    Cilla, that’s great! Glad you’re enjoying it.

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