Skip to main content

Strategies for social activism in times of #stayathome

A blog by Verena Maas, one of our partners at Agora Köln.

These days, everyone involved in activism is asking the same questions: Which tools and strategies can I use to keep my message relevant and out there? What can I do to be seen, heard, noticed and not forgotten?

The global coronavirus outbreak has prompted climate activists and others pushing for social change to abandon public demonstrations – their most powerful tool for raising public awareness thus far. The only short-term solution: Shifting to online protests. Two weeks ago, Greta Thunberg, the Swedish climate activist, stayed at home and tweeted a photo of herself and her two dogs, with a message calling on protesters to “take it online.” Many of her followers supported the message.

Greta Thunberg Twitter Screenshot
Source: Twitter
Ecosia Twitter Screenshot
Source: Twitter


Building parklets online?

Agora Köln is also calling for online action. One of Agora’s most prominent projects this year was to be Mut zur Lücke (Dare to Make Space). The idea is to improve communal life and make a move towards a car-free city centre by inviting civic groups and institutions to participate in building parklets on the streets of a Cologne neighborhood. The current situation makes this nigh on impossible: the official contact restrictions have forced a halt to the project, just weeks before stakeholders planned to begin work in the streets. As Jürgen Möllers, the city’s cycling officer and Agora Köln partner in the Mut zur Lücke project said: “Why build a parklet if nobody is allowed to sit in it?” Like many other projects these days, Mut zur Lücke must be transformed into something else, something new: in the digital realm.

This is where it gets interesting to us as transnational digital storytellers. The means of “being digital” become even more important and the much bigger, overarching question of “how can we make more people aware of our story ” pops up in terms of a Digital Storytelling Curriculum.

Ernie Bushmiller Cartoon
Picture: Ernie Bushmiller
Let Good Vibes Get A Lot Stronger
Picture: Verena Maas


Social Campaigning as part of the Curriculum

At the beginning of 2020, Eurospectives 2.0 project partners created a map of all the different learning stages in Digital Storytelling. Agora Köln’s task over the next few months will be to research the field of social campaigning in more detail.

Eurospectives Metrolines
Source: Eurospectives 2.0

In this small section of the map, we can see part of the red line with steps that lead to creating social change. Understanding social media as well as building communities will be essential elements of Agora Köln’s research. Agora Köln believes that #stayathome can create change and lead to interesting new movements and trends in digital activism.

Map for a Digital Storytelling Curriculum (Draft). Source: Eurospectives 2.0
Map for a Digital Storytelling Curriculum (Draft). Source: Eurospectives 2.0