“It’s not always those who shout the loudest who get the prizes in life.” Says Catherine Howarth, Chief Executive of ShareAction UK the incredible shareholder activism charity.
This week in the School of Gentle Protest we are looking at ‘Quiet Protest’ as a vital part of the activism toolkit, not to replace louder forms of protest but add to, enhance and sustain pressure on powerholders to fix harmful systems and structures they are in control of. The protests we mostly see are the loud stunts, visually startling images of protest or massive crowds of protests and they are important but let’s not forget the often hidden protests that are just as important and need our help too and often more long term and less exciting. Examples include
1. Quietly and carefully researching who has the power to eradicate the suffering you are addressing
2. Quietly crafting a robust question to ask a power holder that not only addresses your concern but also connects to them personally to help them want to help you tackle injustices they can fix
3. Quietly having one to one conversations with power holders such as board members of companies (Lesson 3 might help you prep for that too!)
This week’s Visiting Professor is one of my shero campaigners Catherine Howarth who has worked on the ground as a local organiser, been a senior policy researcher and has geeked it up receiving a MSc in Industrial Relations from the London School of Economics, all before becoming the CEO of ShareAction UK. A brilliant mix of experience and knowledge to share with you, our students to help you become effective Gentle Protesters.
Your homework for this week is:
1. WATCH the documentary film Inside Job (2010) to understand more of the power dynamics in the USA financial system and share with #SchoolOfGentleProtest who was involved in the causing of the US economic crisis of 2008 – the answers might surprise you – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1645089/
2. POWER ANALYSIS: Who has the power to make the changes you want? Pick a company that you think is harmful in some way to people or our planet. Research their organisational structure to see who could be involved in implementing an injustice (e.g it might be the Director of HR for wages, there might be a sustainability committee responsible for environmental damage etc) and then research one person with lots of power in the organisation to try help you figure out what might encourage them to fix the injustice you want to address. Here is an example of a business hierarchy: http://legacy.businesscasestudies.co.uk/company_images/108/377/12457748691.jpg
This is a useful exercise learn for future campaigns.
3. FOLLOW an individual and successful campaigner you admire on social media to learn from them as a role model: Research their personal campaign journey, campaign track record, what they read that helps them with their campaign work, if they have written about campaign strategies of what worked and what failed and read what articles they read on protest. Some suggested Twitter accounts @AnnaMac33 @MrTomBaker @ScillaElworthy @beingMicahWhite
4. PENSION POWER (Homework from Visiting Prof Catherine Howarth)- find out if you have a pension through your employer and who it’s with. Then find out who the 3 biggest companies your pension invests in. As an owner you can help shape those companies into more responsible organisations. All support here: https://shareaction.org/category/campaign/pension-power/
Other links mentioned in this vlog
+ Selma film, Lincoln film homework is all part of Lesson 1 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADSyEWwh6Uo
+ Craftivist Collective successful shareholder activism project here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTgMTeGqKv8
+ Make your own ‘Don’t Blow It’ craftivism hanky for a power holder here: https://craftivist-collective.com/product/dont-blow-it-hanky-kit/