If we want to live in a world that truly acknowledges the value of all people as contributors and members of their community, we need to understand the way community functions as part of the world. Grassroots movements that lift up marginalized members of the population almost always start at the local, community level, but they also work within a globalized context that links communities together internationally. So what can an activist or advocate do if they want to be successful in effecting change that has ripple effects throughout the community and beyond?
For Citizen Network’s Simon Duffy and Markus Vähälä, the answer lies in an understanding of what activism really is: rebellion. After all, any effort to challenge the status quo is inherently a subversive act. The goal of real social change shouldn’t be simply to make sure the message reaches the most powerful ears, it should be to take that power for ourselves and spread it throughout the community at large. And when communities link together on an international scale to share resources and strategies, this power can spread even wider. I was thrilled to welcome Simon and Markus to the podcast to talk about their work with Citizen Network and their take on how efforts to build a more inclusive society need to begin at the local level, but shouldn’t stay there.
Simon is Director of the Centre for Welfare Reform and is a founding member of Citizen Network Cooperative. He developed the concept of the Keys to Citizenship (2003) and led the development of Self-Directed Support in England with In Control (2003-2009). He also worked closely with people with learning disabilities and their families on deinstitutionalisation and the development of Personalised Support, establishing Inclusion Glasgow in 1996. Simon is also active in the movement for Basic Income and is working on the development of Basic Income Plus to replace disability benefits. Simon has a doctorate in moral philosophy and his awards include the RSA's Prince Albert Medal and the Social Policy Association Award for outstanding contribution to social policy.
Markus is the CEO of the Citizen Network Coop, an organization that aims to create a world where all people can work together, accelerate learning, create systemic change and ecology around people as active citizens and communities as creators of sustainable environments of wellbeing. He is also director of international affairs for Finland’s Kukunori, a network of NGOs across the country. He has worked professionally in the fields of disability and mental health since 1998 and is also a musician who collaborates with artists and organizations from all over the world to develop new global music culture.
Listen now to my talk with Simon and Markus, who had some great thoughts on democratizing advocacy and embracing rebellion and teamwork as essential parts of the activist’s toolkit.
Thanks for Listening!
Resources & Links Mentioned:
- The article by the black author for white audiences about allyship vs. accomplices
- Citizen Network TV – zoom meetings (see 50:07)
- Inclusionary podcast parties
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Special thanks to Simon Duffy and Markus Vähälä for joining me this week. Until next time!