From grassroots campaigns to momentous movements, there are multiple ways to help bring meaningful change
There has been a lot of research on the “double-benefit” of civic activism, the economic rewards it can store up for the people who do it as much as those it’s done for. But I’m not really interested in the economy; I’m interested in what makes a person feel alive. And getting involved with a campaign, no matter how big, can make you feel much better, much more engaged – even energised – than just sitting and worrying about the state of the world.
How does an effective campaigner get started? I asked Alena Ivanova, 33, because I think she embodies the activist life well lived. She came to the UK eight years ago from Bulgaria, where there are very few entry points to activism: no developed student movement, little spontaneous campaigning. “It was living in London that radicalised me. I thought things would be different, but better. Actually they were different, but the same: people were just as devoid of real power to make decisions about their lives, and it was so expensive that everyone was too busy working to think about it. You either have to make a retreat into yourself, or you have to commit to trying to make it better for everyone.”