My boss and several other people from the movement are heading off this evening to a memorial event for Anita Roddick, which will involve a march and a celebration under the banner "I Am An Activist".
It’s an interesting word to choose, and very much in keeping with what she was about. As she famously said: "Do something. Anything." Got me thinking about the time when someone said to me that who I was describing sounded like a community activist, not a social entrepreneur; as if there were clear boundaries between the two, and well-defined archetypes of each. A great number of SSE students and Fellows are, at a fundamental level, activists. After all, a key characteristic of an entrepreneur is that they are prone to action rather than reflection: that they, basically, do stuff.
In this article related to the memorial event, Simon Fanshawe rails against those who claim to be doing their bit by clicking their mouse or going to a concert. And I have to agree largely. There’s a huge amount of what is called "Slacktivism" going around, currently perpetuated by large scale events with the word Live in or by countless social networking sites. Facebook won’t solve social ills; nor will MySpace or Bebo or the next grand social networking site to come along. Nor will a big concert. What they might help do is connect, network and fund activists and social entrepreneurs who are doing things; not passively consuming them. I’m as much a lover of new technology as anyone, but let’s not kid ourselves that this blog, podcasts or groovy new web 2.0 sites are going to change anything without offline activities that inspire, identify and support activists committed to making change in the real world. People who really can say "I am an activist" and know it’s true.
"This is no dress rehearsal. You’ve got one life, so just lead it and try and be remarkable."