August 09, 2012

How Personal Interest Spurs Activism

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Persuading people to become activists on social, policy and economic issues often requires just one simple act: showing them clearly and concretely why their own lives have been harmed or why they face a new risk.

That's the key lesson that Martin Brueckner, an educator and researcher at the Institute for Social Sustainability at Murdoch University in Australia, has seen in his work with towns in Western Australia that are fighting for liveable conditions near large mining and refining operations.

When people in those close-knit communities saw the potential impact the facilities could have on their health and quality of life, they devised successful ways to protest. As a result, they have successfully stalled expansion plans and promoted new laws to fight pollution.

In this episode of Making Change, Mr. Brueckner shares his observations about how to inspire people to take action on issues that involve complex policy matters. Often, he says, the secret is to make the issue personal.

Hildy Gottlieb is the co-founder of Creating the Future and author of "The Pollyanna Principles: Reinventing 'Nonprofit Organizations' to Create the Future of Our World." In this podcast, Making Change, she interviews leaders to discuss how those who are working for the greater good can effect more social change. New episodes of Making Change appear once a month.