Activism and ... Petitions

IssueDecember 2015 - January 2016

Is it an effective form of protest? Is the effort worth the results? A lot of them seem to be online these days and I don’t have much to do with that. They might have more effect, I don’t know.
- Woman, London

Oh no, I think hopelessness and pessimism. Actually that isn’t quite true, I am torn between hopelessness and feeling that things can be changed by things like this. I sign a fair few. And the online things like Avaaz are proving to be effective becasuse of the sheer numbers. I also sign ones in the street.

I nearly organised a petition on the 10 Downing Street website. It had to do with petrol stations. I was driving back from Brighton and every single petrol station had a nonfunctioning air supply. In the end I had to change the whole wheel. In other countries they have to supply free air by law. I was going to make a petition for safe driving then I found someone had already done it, but it only had about 20 signatures. The trick is to have a good network of people to get the ball rolling.
- Man, St Leonards-on-Sea

They are definitely worth doing and I circulate them to people but I also get overwhelmed by them. I guess I have a polarised feeling.

It does seem that big petitions shift things. However it is a very solitary way of doing things. Isolating. A person interacting with the world via a screen. Avaaz, Change, they do succeed quite often so it does seem worth doing.

I am also aware that I go through phases where I open my email and stick all the petitions in a folder for later because I don’t want to be at the computer, I want to do something more engaged with people. Likewise I am very selective about which ones I share on Facebook, maybe only one a fortnight.

That’s interesting, I immediately thought you meant online petitions, but of course there are street stalls in town. That’s how I first started doing petitions, it’s the opposite, it’s a lot more real , it’s a way to connect with people, it’s an excuse to talk.
- Woman, Shropshire

I remember my friend standing in the middle of town day after day for months with a petition to free Öcalan, the PKK leader. His hair grew long in the time he stood there and he became a little otherworldly. I think it was his first solo political act. Although a petition seems very simple, I think it was a very profound experience for him. It shook me.
- Woman, Hastings

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