5 Ways to Amplify Your Voice
Want to Get More Involved With Issues You Care About? Here's How to Get Started.
I love looking up the definition of words. Activism can be a loaded one, but one of the most simple definitions is simple: the practice of using action to achieve a result.
It reminds me of Newton’s first law, sometimes referred to as the law of inertia, which says an object at rest stays at rest, and an object in motion stays in motion.
Which one do you want to be? At rest or in motion? Sometimes, we need to rest and sometimes we need to fight like hell. It’s important to identify where you are at and how you can best serve your cause.
You don’t have to have all the answers or know all the right actions to take, you just need to be someone who cares and wants to make a difference. Actions can be small or large, loud or discreet, bold or reserved.
Sometimes, activism looks like watching your neighbor’s kid for an hour, so they can attend a town hall meeting. Sometimes, it’s making snacks for those who are making flyers to canvass throughout the neighborhood. Maybe it’s hosting a virtual meeting, making a donation, designing a website, or writing an email.
I’ve met a lot of people who don’t necessarily identify as “environmentalists” or “activists,” but I think it’s time to expand our ideas about these concepts. You don’t have to hold a degree in toxicology or be a lawyer to stand up and do what’s right for your family or community.
Here are a few more ways you can start on your journey to have more impact in the world.
1) Never Stop Learning
If you are new to activism or just feeling a call to get more involved, the first step is to educate yourself on the topic you care about and/or get more acquainted with local groups who are working on your issue. Spend time researching recent articles, non-profit websites, or join a newsletter for action alerts. Once you have a little knowledge, be generous and share it with your friends and family. Send an email with bullet points of what you have learned or put together a fact sheet. Host a book or media club to get more folks talking about it. One-on-one conversations are great too. Take a walk with a friend to chat more or make a phone date to specifically discuss ideas.
2) Foster Your Confidence
No one feels confident in the beginning of a water struggle (or any cause), but I want to encourage you to push past those initial fears. Don’t believe the thoughts that say “I’m too young,” “I’m too old,” “I don’t have enough experience,” or “I don’t have influence or power.” Now is not the time to let those fears take over. I’ve seen people of all ages and backgrounds fight for what they feel is right and win. Take the attention away from yourself and put it on your message. You deserve access to clean water. Think of each and every person in your community that you can help. Remember you just need enough confidence to take that first step in the right direction.
3) Engage In True “Social” Media
You don’t have to join all the platforms, but try to pick one you enjoy and make a splash. Connect with the types of people you admire and think might be interested in your cause. Find a few hashtags to follow, such as #bethechange, #zerowaste, #supportblackbusiness, #climatechange, #waterpollution, etc. Share the stories that interest you or talk about your challenges and wins as it relates to your cause. For example, if you attend a town hall meeting, be sure to share it. When you take action, it helps those who follow you get inspired to be more involved too.
4) Think Outside the Box
As a dyslexic, I’ve always thought differently than those around me. I love creativity and all the ways people choose to get involved with a cause. I know a lot of what I talk about can feel intense. Trust me, I’m not always the most fun person to engage with at a party. But I’m always trying to find ways to make advocating for your cause relatable. Heck, I’d love if it was more fun! Can we start hosting pizza parties for a good cause? How about adding live music to a town hall meeting? Balloons and bubbles? What’s a way to make it more accessible and engaging? I’m open to suggestions and I encourage anyone who is starting out to find a way to make it fun for you. Over the years, I’ve seen strong friendships made by those who band together for a cause. Don’t be afraid to reinvent the wheel when it comes to expanding your voice. Sometimes the most creative actions are the ones with the most impact.
5) Practice Self-Care
The noise is all around us these days, from what’s happening in the news to the meeting you had with your boss or the issues your kids might be having at school. We all have a lot going on, and we’re all still dealing with pandemic life, which can be especially draining. As someone who has been at this work for a long time, I want to tell you that you need to take time for self-renewal. For me, it’s spending time watching the sunset at the end of the day or laughing with my granddaughters as they play in the yard. For you, it might be a short meditation practice or working on a puzzle. Do what you can to hear your own voice, whether it’s playing a round of golf or taking a hot bath. It’s hard to have impact when you are running out of steam. Take the time to reboot as often as you can so that you can carry on with your cause.
Have other ideas of how to amplify your voice? Share them below! I’d love to hear what works for you.