Beyond the salty blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea, not far from Greece and pretty close to Turkey and Syria, lies the isle of Cyprus. One can journey along the roads that go amid arid areas, or get lost in cities with rich vegetation and people staying up on the streets and pubs until late at night, when finally you can enjoy the endless summer without sweating.
It’s the beginning of October, but still 31° C in the humid air of the day. And as the sun starts to shine, people from all over Europe gather in the air conditioned conference room of the hotel to talk about a rather subtle process, that could be at the roots of social change today. How can people (and mostly youth) go “From Clicktivism To Activism“. In other words, what do we need to do in order to go beyond the stingy “Like” and “Share” and act?
A cornball thing, you might say. But when more than half of people believe politics is boring and don’t have any interest in it, democracy is in danger. The social and political apathy is what lies beyond the lack of changes that people need. It happens in most countries where corruption and unfairness rule the day. And not only.
With the contribution of a team of researchers, activists and advisers, along with local Cypriot authorities, all mixed together with the magical skills of facilitator Kostas Spatiotis, and the warmth of project coordinator Raluca Diroescu, 26 people have been intensely working for 5 days, trying to:
- find out the truth about activism;
- understand how could people become more willing to contribute to social movement;
- know what history tells us when it comes to people’s lack of contribution;
- understand how change happens;
- find out what is the profile of the social youth worker –a key role that could turn out to be the missing piece in the complex puzzle of participation.
First of all, one should understand that activism isn’t about politics. And it’s neither about voting. Activism is about building better societies, as Geoffrey Pleyers, Professor of Sociology at UCL in Brussles, puts it. It’s more of a personal experience – something that you should integrate in your daily life. It’s a way of living. A commitment to stay connected and to be aligned to your own values. Because we all have an impact on our community no matter if we act or not.
Another thing would be to understand that Internet is not really a magical solution. It can be used to grow movements, to support causes and to reach big masses of people. But it can’t just solve our problems. It will never act in stead of us. Facebook is never gonna be able to fight for Human Rights. If it could, we would have already been living in a more peaceful world. Not to mention that people don’t always promote a better world in the vast lands of the online.
But that’s when the social youth worker comes in, with his crucial role. He’s got some quite fancy competences and a pretty tight mission as you can see in the drawings above – check them out!
So the question is: who will try to fill in this position? Who is willing to contribute in such a rich way towards groups and society? The answer is out there somewhere…