Why small acts?

When Leigh Smith Bodichon and a group of friends started to meet regularly in the 1850s to discuss women's rights and became known as "The Ladies of Langham Place," they could not have known that they would be the catalyst for an organised women's movement in Britain. 


Change starts when someone or a small group of people decide to do something, often this is a small act – a form of resistance, an unconquered spirit or a loving act.  Often the individual or small group do not know that they will succeed, they just believe it the right thing to do. 


Our world is more interconnected and complex than before.  The problems that seemed over there are over here now.  When I was at university in the mid-1990s,  students were organising against Structural Adjustment Programmes (basically the World Bank and the IMF forcing “developing” countries to privatise public services and make way for corporations to sue governments if they tried to protect their citizens and the environment).  


P1160600It seemed a little unthinkable that would happen in Europe, yet the  Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) are secret negotiations designed to do just that.  During the last thirty years, ideals of the free market - massive tax cuts for the rich, the crushing of trade unions, deregulation, privatisation, outsourcing and competition in public services - have dominated our political and economic policies. 


We have watched inequality rise and the gains we established, less than 100 years ago on public housing, education, health care, libraries systematically destroyed.  Yet, we are still not happier or healthier.  We can buy more things, produce more goods, consume the equivalent of 1.6 planets a year and watch our fellow human beings exploited to make things for us.  For what?  


P1160577What are we doing about it? Some people despair, others retreat in frivolousness and many are cynics – they take no action watching on the sidelines (I have done this many times myself).  Another bunch of people are busy dreaming, imagining, creating and building the kind of world they would like to see, one that benefits all of us and our planet.  


By doing this – they are challenging the economic and political ideals of the last 30 years, they are resisting the mantra ‘there is no alternative’, and they are redrawing the boundaries of what is possible.  These ideas are not small in ambition or imagination, they are not mainstream yet, nor are they all new or fully formed, but they offer us genuine alternatives for a democratic, participatory and egalitarian society that works for all citizens and our planet. I wanted to capture some of these ideas, which you can find on the right hand side under recent posts.