Who are the real movers and shakers in community activism? Explore how you can make an impact on the frontlines, without a big social media budget.
In my last blog, we spoke about becoming a changemaker and touched very briefly on the ‘celebrity social entrepreneur’ phenomenon. Overnight, social media has created a class of high-profile changemakers seeking to draw us into their orbit.
Any attempt to create a better world should be celebrated. But a culture created and fuelled by media is subject to media’s rules. We can’t be so naïve as to deny that the noblest causes can be subject to distortion and bad faith. This is doubly clear when these topics hit the news cycle.
Ice cream for justice
As I write this, my native UK is engaged in its thrice-annual tantrum about migration. The Home Secretary, herself the child of immigrants, is embroiled in an argument with Ben & Jerry’s ice cream over her strongman stance. The Home Office has even gone as far as to request naval intervention in the English Channel.
Ben & Jerry’s (who, let’s not forget, make ice cream) took to Twitter in response. They declared, quite correctly, that people cannot be illegal by virtue of their mere existence. The brand called on the Home Secretary to soften her stance and consider the real underlying issues. Great stuff, right?
But hold on. Ben & Jerry’s is owned by Unilever, who were recently called out on owing the UK as much as £550 million in unpaid tax. How much of that money could have gone towards addressing those real underlying issues which politicians lay at the door of migrants?
The ice cream company, in seeking to become a superstar changemaker, has conveniently drawn attention away from its own moral shortcomings. Is that any different to the Home Secretary using the lives of human beings as political footballs to appease reactionary voters?
This double-sided hypocrisy isn’t just deeply toxic. It also holds a nation’s attention, forcing us to dwell on the words of those acting in bad faith. The identity and validity of all migrants somehow becomes confused with the fate of those desperate souls fleeing the horrors of war.
Who are the real community activists?
So, what can we do about this? Well, the first step is accepting that we’ll be getting little help from a brand’s social media team. Real positive change comes from community-led projects, with stakeholders who carry the issues close to their hearts.
The SPEAK blog recently highlighted the work of Djibril Ayofe and Abdi Musse. These two young people arrived in London and struggled to integrate through language. With a bit of help from Catherine Nicholson of The Agency, they turned that adversity into a thriving sports programme for others like them.
Time and time again, whenever stories like this emerge, I’m reminded that these are the real faces of authentic changemakers. Not celebrities, not brands, but those with a genuine stake in taking their small corner of the world and making it better.
This ethos lies at the heart of what makes SPEAK such an exciting project to be part of. By focusing on universal human topics like language and community, we build a global family of those acting in good faith to help out.
Share a language, become a SPEAK buddy
Of course, SPEAK couldn’t exist without its network of buddies. Those with the skills to share their language and help others unlock a passion for communication are always in high demand.
In a world of glamorous causes and woke brands, buddies are doing the real hard work of connecting communities. Thanks don’t come in the form of likes and shares, but the real smiles on the faces of those they help by hosting language sessions.
Does that sound appealing? Could you become a SPEAK buddy and share your language and culture with others? Do you want to join a global grass-roots movement of authentic changemakers?
In return, you’ll receive support and material to use in your sessions. You also get free access to any SPEAK language sessions to continue breaking down barriers. Best of all, you’re becoming a central part of a growing initiative aimed at sending positive ripples through an increasingly isolated world.
Sweet deal, right? If you think so, learn more about becoming a SPEAK buddy today.