To be a peaceful troublemaker, simply means making a difference, while not getting too angry or political. There’s no point annoying people to create change, just state your case and get on with it. Here are some super ways to help.
- Do Something! Activism for Everyone is for anyone who stares helplessly at the news feed and find your blood pressure going up every time an MP tells a lie or tries to gaslight, this is the book for you. From challenging local shops to reduce plastic waste or demanding new laws, get involved.
- Start or sign petitions at 38 Degrees or Change. It does work (the former recently stopped the government selling off the rest of our forests, to private companies).
- How to Make a Difference is a practical roadmap created by the imaginative minds behind some of biggest campaigns in recent years. Learn how to change the law, peacefully protest, end a problem for ever, change a big company and use social media.
- Visit They Work For You to find out how your MP voted on issues important to you, then write to them.
- Join The Conservation Volunteers, where nationwide you can get involved in planting trees, clearing paths, building dry stone walls and more. It also publishes several handbooks and courses.
Change starts from the grassroots up, because if we wait around for top-down change, we will be waiting a long time. Just like trickle-down economics, starting change from the top never works. The real change comes at community level, when people get together and create change themselves. It was Margaret Mead that once wrote ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has’.
- How to Be An Activist is by experienced campaigner Vanessa Holburn, with a foreword by award-winning animal welfare campaigner Lorraine Platt. It covers all you need to know to start a successful local campaign, from identifying the issues to learning how to work effectively with media, and staying safe within the law.
- DIY City: The Collective Power of Small Actions is a book looking at how working on a small-scale, is often the best way to change a town. There are great examples of New Towns and Garden Cities worldwide, but these grand plans are usually the exception, rather than the rule. By urban planner Hank Dittmar, also read My Kind of City.
- Taking on the Plastic Crisis is a ‘pocket change collective’ idea, a brief story from a young campaigner, on how to do it well. Hannah Testa shares with readers how she successfully passed legislation to limit single-use plastics, and influenced global business to adopt more sustainable practices.
Making housing affordable for everyone should be a no-brainer, yet still today, our whole economy is one obsessed with making house prices rise up high, so most people who don’t own a home now, never have a chance of doing so in the future. Millions spend their lives working to pay off a mortgage, often on a property worth less than they paid for it.
Blueprint for Greening Affordable Housing looks at solutions for housing stability, safety and financial help, all while reducing environmental impact. Solutions include supportive housing, net-zero coastal apartments and home ownership for people who live in deserts (the book is American).
In his book Mortgage-Free (it’s not that easy, involves building your own house!), Rob Roy writes that no other industry would have a young couple backing out of an office, grateful that they have signed their life away for the next 30 years, for no other reason than to ‘own the place they live’. But we have pressure that renting is ‘throwing money away’ (in Germany and Italy, more people rent, so they have good laws and good landlords). Whether you rent or buy depends on circumstances, but are there ways to make house renting or buying cheaper? You could avoid avoid estate agents and letting agents. But what else?
Sites like Home Hunt have more affordable housing for those on low incomes. Social housing was invented to provide affordable homes, yet a better idea is to use the straw bale (that is presently burned) to easily create 250,000 new cheap affordable warm homes each year.
Right to Buy?
This was set up by Thatcher’s government, who let people buy their council houses. Sounds a good idea in theory, but it resulted in many people buying up council homes and making huge profits, while people without money ended up homeless. Help to Buy can be good, but it’s not very visionary.
One idea that is could be Sweden’s JAK Members Bank. This is a co-op that pays staff, but the rest of people’s money is used to give out mortgages. The difference is that at the end of the term, you pay off your mortgage, then get most of the interest back (unlike here, where it all goes to the banks). At least, that looks like how it works. It’s approved by many new alternative economists, as there is a ‘meaning to it’.
Other countries in Europe have higher ownership, but less mortgages. How so? Because countries like Italy tend be more family-orientated. It’s not unusual for a couple to be engaged for 10 years to save up a big deposit, with the family chipping in the rest, then they often live in the same apartment building. No Italian market for dodgy brokers.
The Affordable City
The Affordable City is a book about making housing affordable for everyone. Although written for US readers, it’s relevant everywhere, and offers 50 policy recommendations on housing policy. Author Shane Phillips is an urban planner and policy expert whose solutions include:
- Adapt solutions to community needs
- Plan for the most vulnerable
- Pick one (rising house prices or affordability)
- Don’t reward ‘idle money’
- Encourage mixed-use zoning
- Speed up renter approvals
- Offer free help for those at risk of eviction
- Enforce housing & building codes
- Don’t sell public land (lease it)
These books to help youth change the world are ideal, for little activists. Often children and young people are made to feel scared about climate change, war, animal abuse etc. Here are some more hopeful and practical inspirational books.
For recipes, avoid nuts, seed/nut butters for young children, and cut carrot sticks/veggie hot dogs lengthwise and again, to avoid choking. See foods to keep away from pets. See make your garden safe for pets to know toxic plants and other items to avoid.
- Simple Acts To Change The World is a book with tips to make a difference, even small acts create an impact. From joining a volunteer organization to running for your local school committee. Amy Neumann founded Free Tech for Nonprofits and volunteers for Charity Ideas.
- You Can Change the World is a book to empower children to make changes in their communities. With colourful illustrations, ideas include mending clothes, avoiding plastic and composting.
- How to Make a Better World is a fun colourful book, to empower children. Ideas include starting a neighbourhood lending library, helping animal welfare & social justice, creating plastic-free campaigns and stopping climate change. Be a friend, volunteer, start a community library and get your voice heard. Keilly Swift is managing editor of First News, the national newspaper for young people.
- 101 Small Ways to Change the World is a fun illustrated book, to get children inspired to make a difference. From saving energy to random acts of kindness, this is a practical book to inspire children at home, school and the local community. Ideas include talking to a new child in class, eating less meat, donating clothes and food, saying ‘no’ to plastic, buying local and planting trees.
HumanKind is a heartwarming book about how we can change the world, with small acts. Brad’s life changed instantly when his wife Mia was diagnosed with leukemia. After spending 2.5 years by her side and trying to shield their young son from the worst, they were met with an outpouring of kindness from others.
Knowing how simple acts of kindness transformed his and other’s world, he sought out to share the best stories for this book, to help inspire. You’ll meet the six-year old who launched a global kindness movement, a band of seamstress grandmothers who mend clothes for homeless people and discover how just the right words, can change someone’s world, as well as your own.
The book includes details of where you can send letters to children in hospital, lonely seniors, refugees and veterans, and how you can fund surgery to cure someone’s blindness, for less than a couple of hundred pounds. Also includes 50 more ideas to change a life. The book is American, here are a few other ideas here:
- The Silverline offers volunteer listeners to chat on the phone (including conference calls, so people can chat to each other on the phone too).
- Reengage has volunteer ‘call companions’
- Royal Voluntary Service helps older lonely people
- Find local befriending volunteer opportunities
- Meet Up Mondays organises local meet-ups
- WaveLength gives radios, to those in need.