September 19, 2017

"Every voice counts. Every foot on the ground, every time you sign a petition - those things add up"

In a new episode of her Better Angels podcast, Theirworld President Sarah Brown talks to American campaigners Jamira Burley, Michael Gibbons and Michael Silberman.

Campaigning comes in many forms. But at its heart is a deeply-held desire to change things for the better.

Transforming your voice into meaningful action takes passion and commitment. But the people who have been there and done it successfully can help you along the way.

That's what the podcast series Better Angels is all about. Hosted by Theirworld President Sarah Brown, each episode features guests talking about how they found their activist voice and the challenges they faced in their campaigning.

In the new episode, Sarah looks at campaigning US-style by talking in Washington, DC, to American activists and campaigners Jamira Burley, Michael Gibbons and Michael Silberman. 

Listen to the full episode here

The United States has a distinguished history of extraordinary campaigns for change, including the anti-war demonstrations, civil rights movements and LGBTI rights campaigns, women's and black power movements - right up to the present day with the women's march and Black Lives Matter movement.

 “When you see change happen, after a well-targeted campaign, it’s a magical moment,” says Sarah. Here's a taste of what her guests have to say.

Jamira Burley, youth activist

Jamira Burley is a youth activist who has a new role at the Global Business Coalition for Education

Photo credit: Jamira Burley

Jamira has worked for Amnesty International, been a United Nations education champion and was named in the Forbes 30 under 30 list.

Since her podcast interview, she has started a new role with the Global Business Coalition for Education to lead a new initiative on the worldwide gap in skills for young people.

Jamira became an anti-gun violence campaigner after the murder of her brother Andre in 2005.

“I’ve been passionate about the issues that are hurting some of the most vulnerable populations,” she says.

Jamira says it helps when people like her get into institutions to change them from the inside. It reminds them where their passions lie. 

She has this message for campaigners: “Every voice counts. Every foot on the ground, every time you sign a petition - all of those things add up and it allows for our collective power to push for change.”

Michael Gibbons, rights and education campaigner

Michael is a senior advisor on campaigning

Photo credit: Education World Forum

Michael is a senior advisor on campaigning and an activist with experience going back to the 1960s.

He talks about the problems of children having to travel to schools far away - both in the US after neighbourhood school closures and in developing countries.

Civic activism is important to challenge this, says Michael.

“This where youth leadership can come in, where we can cultivate new leaders who are willing to organise in their communities.”

He believes young people should be encouraged to run for public office or become researchers and analysts who can help us to understand the issues.

Michael Silberman, founder of Mobilisation Lab

Michael Silberman is has worked for Greenpeace and Mobilisation Lab.

Photo credit: Jake Brewer

Michael worked for Greenpeace before leading the formation of Mobilisation Lab, which was born inside the environmental organisation and is now becoming an independent initiative.

He says that, thanks to technology, everyone now has the power to mobilise people.

Michael says: “One of the largest women’s marches was started by someone posting on Facebook - saying after the Trump election we should get into the streets and demonstrate our support for equal rights and civil rights.”

MobLab now shares its ideas and resources with other campaigners and has toolkits on its website.

Asked for a tip for young campaigners, Michael says: “Spend time listening. That could be throwing something up on Facebook and see how people react. Or going out into the streets doing a sensing exercise. Too often we launch campaigns with this idea that we know what is best.”

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