What is Grassroots Activism?
Grassroots activism consists of a group of like-minded people coming together for a cause they believe in. Grassroots activists are not usually controlled by any political party. Their issues are often directly opposed to the policies of the major political powers.
Grassroots activism is often defined as being at the bottom of the political pyramid. Grassroots causes and issues are often the opposite of those of the political powers at the top of the pyramid. However, many major politicians become involved in grassroots issues if they feel strongly enough about the issue. Some cynics may say this is just another way for politicians to garner votes.
Political freedom is a major concern of the grassroots activist. Freedom of speech and the right to protest are essential to grassroots activism. People in Western society can take these right for granted, but there are still many countries in which one can be imprisoned for protesting.
Grassroots activists spend a great deal of time promoting their cause. They hold meetings, organize fund raisers, and donate time and money for causes they believe in. Grassroots activists are vehement in their beliefs. Many protesters have endured time in prison. Animal rights protesters have gone to extreme methods to promote their points of view, but grassroots is most often a peaceful method of changing policy, relying on sheer force of numbers and the public opinion that is involved.
The issues that are important to the activist can be small, such as community funding, or they can have wider reaching ramifications. What may start as a small protest can be picked up by the media and can ultimately change laws. Grassroots activism can be as small as standing up at a community meeting and expressing a point of view. It can be also be a well organized political march against a major political issue.
Grassroots activists are not easily swayed from their point of view. Activists in many towns and cities across America have prevented huge corporations such as Wal-Mart from moving into their towns. Grassroots activists are the little people standing up for their rights against the stronger powers that be.
I think the best way to propagate effective large-scale activism is to penetrate the echelons of academia. The educational system has such a profound influence upon the direction of a society that the Public School could easily be called a propaganda box for hamster students. The smart people find it easy to affect the worldview of adolescents, and the adolescents, in turn, go on to be the thinkers and shapers of society in the future. This system has profound repercussions throughout the world.
Grassroots campaigning works very well in fairly mobile and flexible cultures where new ideas are always welcome. With the advent of the internet, grassroots has come to be shown in various websites and social networks. The face of democratic politics is likely to change drastically in the near future due to strong and lightning-speed internet connections among like-minded individuals.
Grassroots activism is not easy in places where there are already strong grassroots-style communities in place, such as New England. New England is culturally distinct from much of the rest of the US, and is in many ways European. People exist largely in their relatively cloistered communities, and hold to strong family-centered systems of thinking which are not influenced by outside forces. Independence is emphasized to a fault, and individuality is of highest importance. Bitter rivalries even exist among bordering towns, and people exhibit their contempt on the roads.
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