4 steps to becoming a leader

Last Thursday I wrote about how youth activists fail at being inclusive in terms of who is an “activist” or a “leader”, and sought to redefine a leader/activist as anyone who sees a problem and feels compelled to do something about it.

On the flipside, I think many people who feel excluded or do not define themselves as activist or leaders do so because they think it requires a Herculean, everything or nothing effort, rather than a key (but not the only) part of their perspective or lifestyle.

So, as a continuation of last week’s post, I have chosen 4 different issues/campaigns that require minimal time investment, are easily folded into one’s lifestyle, and that I think are a good place to start for people interested in taking the lead in becoming more of an activist.

I encourage you to choose one thing to do this week, but do whatever works for you. The main thing is to be honest about how much you can comfortably do WITHOUT overwhelming yourself. Even 5 minutes spent is 5 minutes you did not spend last week.

Think Outside the Bottle pledge. This is one of my favorites, because it is a lifestyle choice with huge impact. The social environmental, and political impacts of the bottled water industry and the larger issue of water privatization are grave. If you do drink bottled water, start small, read up on it, write the above letter, and pledge try to work slowly to reducing your dependence on it (read: stylish re-usable bottle). If you do not drink it, write the letter, and try to get someone else in your family to take the pledge.

Hydrofracking Call-in. Mainly for New Yorkers, hydraulic fracturing is a type of mining that has disastrous environmental effects, polluting water with a toxic cocktail to the point where people can light it on fire (because of the methane)  (More Here). The complete extent of its environmental impact is unclear, and the New York Senate recently passed a one-year moratorium on all hydro-fracking permits. The NYS assembly MUST pass the same bill for it to take effect. Please call in to the New York State Assembly. A friend of mine has taken to calling in as he brews and drinks his morning cup of coffee. Try to do it at least once this week.

Call Assembly Speaker Silver and Assembly member John Sweeney and tell them to bring the moratorium to a vote!
Silver: 212-312-1420
Sweeney: 631-957-2087
And tell Governor Paterson to support this legislation and sign it!
Governor Paterson: 518-474-8390

Pakistan relief fund. Cynically speaking, the flooding in Punjab has had the unfortunate timing to come too soon after the earthquake in Haiti, and I think people—myself included—are feeling a little overwhelmed-skimming past the articles detailing the extent of the crisis. I would normally not suggest donating money to a cause, but this is one that needs it. I am not suggesting a charity to donate to because taking the time to research your own will have the double effect of making you more knowledgeable not only about the real extent of this tragedy, but give you an idea of worthwhile organizations. American Red Cross, and the American Jewish World Service are two good, reputable places to start. Make the donation that you feel comfortable with, but take the time to really know about the issue, feel responsible to those people.

Western NY lobbying session from PShift '09

Vote for Power Shift This is probably the easiest one on the list (congrats to those who are still reading!) Power Shift 2009 gathered 12,000 youth activists from all over the country to take part in what was the largest environmental lobbying day in U.S. history. They are currently planning Power Shift 2011, and are competing for Pepsi’s Refresh Everything Grant, which carries with it a $250,000 grant. They have done incredible work and have repeatedly breathed life into the environmental movement, something that—with the death of the climate bill in the senate—we absolutely need right now.

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About Big Adam

A NYC doorman, a community organizer, wannabe ape, sometimes blogger, sometimes writer, always crossword puzzle incompleter, I will ride bicycles with your papa, dance Bhangra with your mama, take you on dates that cost nada.
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