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Social responsibility activism

03-May-2012 [1163]

I think historically its been pretty invisible because social change happens by individuals changing their behaviour. but how about this as a "manifesto" for change.


In social responsibility activism one doesn't band together to fight enemies. Instead we create changes by collaborating and inviting all stakeholders to build things, instead of identifying things to tear down or change. One invites stakeholders and builds-cob toilets, gardens, youth programs or whatever needs building. So to get a conservancy and participatory decision making/budgeting we need a cultural shift which involves:

1. Stop identifying enemies

2. Use the energy to build something, using tools at hand

3. We can look at people's individual choices, such as flocking to programs. By "consuming" our programs people are choosing social responsibility actions as individuals. While there is a place to defend, shifting subtly until energy is focused on building means leaderless building. Or rather people come and go investing work in projects that are important to them and contributing to society. So bringing about a conservancy using individual social responsibility theory sounds interesting.

So, instead of fighting management, which makes us perpetually defined in our opposition to "the City" what we want is a pluralistic multifaceted approach that doesn't pit us against something but allows us to walk though a completely different door, by shifting the discussion. This is what we can do to change things and try:

This approach to activism creates an unusual set of circumstances differing significantly from those guiding typical social movement participation, such as no meetings for participants to attend, no need for leaders to organize precisely-timed actions or mobilize large numbers of participants in them. But, can we really consider this type of behavior legitimate participation in a social movement? One study (Pichardo-Almanzar et al. 1998) of everyday behaviors in the environmental movement, suggests we can. In a study of 509 randomly sampled residents in the New York State Capital District metropolitan region, the data strongly suggested that individual actions can be reliably described as social movement participation. This new trend toward recognizing isolated individual actions as valid social movement behavior is reaffirmed by the work of Johnston et al. (1994) which finds that new social movements often involve individual actions as well as mobilized group activity.

So, making activities at the park exciting and appealing to users we allow them to use their individual decision-making power to use our programming and expand dialogue. So rather than creating a more democratic environment what we do is more subtle-we create the services that should exist in this environment. Possibly the battle will not come as the building of something attractive like the community around Ward 18 parks puts the onus to fight on the other party, as we have been slowly redefining space as what the community wants.

It does make things blurry as a chicken and egg argument. We have the egg, so really it doesn't matter how it got here. The chicken and egg arguments that we are about to see from management are only red herrings, in so far as we have democratic usage of public space by the public. Calling the public "special interest groups" or refusing to acknowledge taxpayers and citizens have a right to accountability doesn't need to distract people from building a democratic conservancy. That power is always there.

Okay how is that for some esoteric problem-solving? The money needs to follow and that can happen as public pressure, because really we are talking about democracy.