Grass Roots Activism
Grassroots activism is a method of campaigning for a cause that the activist or activists feel strongly about. Grassroots activists are often at the complete opposite end of the political spectrum from those in power. But these campaigns are often surprisingly effective when it comes to making a change.
What is Grassroots Activism?At its most basic level, grassroots activism is a group of people who feel strongly enough about an issue to actively campaign to make a difference. Grassroots activism relies on the basic rights to freedom of speech and expression by individuals when it comes to trying to make a change to a particular issue. This type of activism is not controlled by any particular political party. They are an independent group of people who feel strongly about a certain issue and are willing to put in the effort to affect a change on the issue they are concerned about.
Political Power in GrassrootsIn a number of cases there will be individuals involved in grassroots campaigns who do hold political power. It could be politicians who pick up on a certain campaign through the media and believe in the issue strongly enough to add their support. In some cases this could look like the actions of a political party trying to gain favour from the public. However in many cases it will often be that the politician does actually support the cause and wishes to help the people involved in the campaign.
Who are Grassroots Activists?Grassroots activists can be anyone from any walk of life who feels passionately about a cause. Activists can be a community that are opposed to a large retailer moving into their town. They can be a group of individuals that are opposed to animal testing or who want to change a council’s policies. Grassroots activism is politics at its most fundamental level; people coming together to stand up and make a difference. This could mean protesting outside the gates of a factory where an employee has been unfairly dismissed to leafleting a whole community on an issue that affects them.
How Grassroots Activism WorksOnce a grassroots campaign starts to pick up momentum it can be very effective when it comes to making a change. A successful campaign can start off with one or two activists that can soon turn into hundreds and even thousands. If the media picks up on the campaign then this can make a real difference to the cause. If the cause has significant support it can effectively change government policies and laws.
Recent protests have included marches against the war in Iraq to campaigns to stop knife crimes in London. These have been protests started by a small number of people that grew to huge numbers through the strength of feeling regarding the particular causes.
Peaceful ProtestAlthough most grassroots protests are intended as peaceful demonstrations for change this has not always been the ultimate outcome. Many activists have been arrested and in some cases endured time in prison due to their strong beliefs. Animal rights protestors often use extreme methods to highlight their protests including breaking into testing facilities. Protestors against nuclear disarmament in Britain are frequently arrested when they hold sit-ins outside warhead manufacturing plants. Some campaigns can last for many years and take real commitment from those involved.
Making a DifferenceAnyone who feels strongly about an issue can start their own grassroots campaign. The power of the Internet has made a real difference to the way campaigns are now run. Thanks to social networking sites it is now easier to recruit like minded activists and organise protests and campaigns. This is grassroots activism at its most basic level but it can make a difference and change the public’s attitude towards certain issues.
Holding a political office is not always needed to make a difference to policies and issues. Many changes have been made in the world thanks to the results of grassroots activism. From civil rights activism to the campaigns for nuclear disarmament, grassroots activism will always be a way for the public to make a difference to the world in which we live.