Ohhhh you guys, I really didn’t like this challenge.
For starters, it should have been called ACTION Not Apathy, instead of Activism Not Apathy. I think the word ‘activism’ was confusing and wasn’t really what this challenge was about.
Yes, fantastic if you’re out there marching and calling your local government representatives and picketing outside factory farms, etc, etc, but my initial idea behind The Kin Project was that the challenges should be simple and easy habit changes that, when a lot of people do them, naturally have a large effect.
I think when you ask people who already have their plates completely full to add something extra to their days, there’s not going to be much enthusiasm. Instead, you'll be met with a chorus of ‘I ALREADY HAVE ENOUGH SHIT TO DO!!’
Just a few days into this challenge, I already felt that way about it. The bit of activism I chose to complete for this month's challenge was to get a local restaurant to automatically stop serving straws. Some progress has been made, but let's just say it's an uphill battle.
However, because I'm already working on other things that will also hopefully have some kind of positive effect, I couldn't muster up much energy for the 'straw project'. And I'm the one who bloody created the challenge...
Did I like anything about this challenge?
Yes - I liked digging up the ‘change-makers’ for the Instagram posts. There are some freaking inspiring people out there - totally normal people who have totally normal lives and yet who have come up with ways to truly make a difference. I think the one that really struck me was Cindy Campbell.
When Cindy Campbell's son, Ty, died at the age of 5 after a 3 year battle with brain cancer, the devastating loss led to her to start The Muddy Puddles Project.⠀
The Muddy Puddles Project is a celebration of children and childhood. It was inspired by five-year old Ty Campbell, a little boy who absolutely LOVED Peppa Pig and dreamed of jumping in muddy puddles just like her when his cancer was cured.⠀
The project embodies the act of kids being kids in honor of those who can’t. I mean. Look at his sweet face. ARRGHHHH.
At its core, The Muddy Puddles Project is a vehicle to remind parents to stop sweating the small stuff; but it is also a fundraising platform for the Ty Louis Campbell (TLC) Foundation in support of childhood cancer research.⠀
After Ty lost his battle with cancer, his parents committed to finding ways to fund innovative research geared toward safer, more effective treatment of various childhood cancers.⠀
In 2017, The Muddy Puddles Project became the official charity partner of Peppa Pig, enabling the nonprofit to meet more families, far and wide, and raise awareness for childhood cancer.⠀
Check out their incredible work at @themuddypuddlesproject or @tlcfoundation on Instagram and at these sites: www.muddypuddlesproject.org, www.thetlcfoundation.org⠀⠀ ⠀
What did I want to achieve with this challenge?
I think the main thing I wanted people to take away from this challenge was just to speak up for the things they believe need changing.
There's a lot of dismissive talk about how "raising awareness" is a weak form of activism, but isn't it kind of a crucial first step? ⠀
A gentle lesson as to why an issue is important can bring a lot more people over to 'your side' than angrily arguing with them. I remember an awkward situation in NYC - a friend and I were strolling about the city when we heard some chanting and ruckus a few streets over. ⠀
We headed in that direction to see what the fuss was about, and found ourselves in the middle of a protest against a retailer who was using goose down in their winter jackets. It was at that moment that I realised I was wearing a puffer jacket, complete with faux fur fringed hood.⠀
A kindly-faced older woman holding a sign turned and hissed, "YOUR COAT IS SO UGLY!" at me before going back to chanting. While this may have been true, my jacket wasn't made with goose down. If she had taken a moment to chat with me and explain what they were doing, rather than just hissing an insult at me, I would have been able to spread that information to others later.⠀
As it was, my friend and I just hastily retreated to the relative safety of the nearest coffee shop.
That, for me, is just the worst kind of activism. You're mad or upset about something, so instead of doing something constructive and positive about it like Cindy Campbell, you instead go and have a bit of a rant and a rage in the street for no other purpose than to vent some anger. There are caveats to this... ranting and raging in the streets is great if you are getting the point across to the target of your anger. It's stupid if you're just ranting and raving at innocent passers-by.
ANYWAY. All that to say, I am looking forward to next month's challenge... the main lesson I learned from this challenge that I want to apply to future challenges is to not ask people to do MORE than they are already doing. Instead, ask them to just change the things they are already doing.
Bring on February!⠀