Express Yourself Through Celebration: Social Movements and Social Change

“When the imagination is unleashed, change happens.” This is what John Samuel, International Director of ActionAid noticed throughout his Stand Up Against Poverty Campaign in India and other places where millions of people joined the antipoverty campaign in many creative ways, from concerts, events, and other cleverly branded activities. Speaking at the conference mentioned in the previous post, he encouraged people to “unleash the power of people with a sense of agency.” This is not your typical concert-going crowd, it is one with agency, which is the sense of being in action, or being instrumental in some cause. (

Another speaker, Antonio Campo Dell’Orto, Managing Director of MTV South Europe, talked about the “No Excuse 2015” Voices Against Poverty Campaign, which MTV in Italy has taken on air and into classrooms and other venues in Italy. This essentially youth campaign, has used creative anti-poverty advertising spots, bracelets, pop icons and electronic technology to get millions of Italian young people interested and involved in the Millenium Development goals (

These are two examples of creating social movements for social change, using activities that people want to do, that they want to use their own time and energy to participate in, and that are fun. John Samuel encouraged people to “express yourself through celebration” rather than through complaint or disengagement.

Does this work at all levels of society – even the institutional level?

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