Apr 30

#3: Activisitism


Edited: May 1

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Concept: Activisitism - A bridges-building community support process



Team: Social Avengers


I like the concept of building bridges across the divides to support communities to access resources and services. I also like that it is targeting youth to get engaged and involved in social activism to build their communities up. However, running youth camps and partnering with universities etc requires a lot of input and investment from the organisers and will need people trained to do that, which this concept does not cover in its planning. Who will organise and run the camps? What is the role of the universities?

May 2Edited: May 2

Hi! Thank you for your comment. There is a lot of interest now in the Philippines among farmers' organizations in bridging urban and rural communities, as you said for communities to have access to resources, services and information. So in the initial stage, these advocacy groups who are already working in ACTIVE communities (i.e. communities affected by land grabs) would be the ones to conduct this. Eventually, after several ACTIVISITS have been conducted and hundreds of social activists formed, a formal network would be established who would eventually sustain itself and spread the concept of ACTIVISIT-ism throughout the country and region.

Universities are one potential partner in sourcing youth-students to participate in these ACTIVISITS. In the Philippines, as part of their curriculum, Universities have a program where students go on an immersion in a community to be exposed or to commit service so they have high interest in this program. Other potential partners may be student organizations, youth groups and networks of civil society organizations.

@Lorenzo Espacio @Anusanthee Pillay Hi there! I think I agree with the Social Avengers’ input (nice name and concept, over there!)!


Lorenzo is right with his argument that universities are one potential partner in sourcing youth-students to participate in which they term as “ACTIVISITS”.It is a very good concept! If I may add to Lorenzo's input and share a personal experience similar to the concept of “ACTIVISITISM”, I studied in a Catholic university in the capital city of Manila, Philippines. As part of our university’ core curriculum, grounded on Christian values, we had, for instance, this one-semester of Saturday service to a community in Rizal during my sophomore year, and a three-day immersion program in my senior year.


These immersion activities are being facilitated by our university’s office for social involvement in concurrence with program officers from partner institutions/communities. There were a lot of outputs that were asked from us to generate before, during and after the immersion, and for the partner community/institution.


During my sophomore year, we helped produce and conduct a profiling/socio-economic survey for a community affected by a relocation threat in Rizal, Philippines. We worked closely with them on this which was important in the bottom-up budgeting processes in the Philippines. We produced a mini-thesis on the community's constant opposition to the relocation. An executive order reports that the place was not suitable for living, hence they were asked to relocate to a far place, however our findings state that the threat was merely a 'political ploy'. The three-day immersion was part of my liberation theology and politics and development classes. This program brought us to an indigenous people's community (affected by land-grabbing) in Rizal, Philippines where we interacted and lived with them. For our output for a class, a policy recommendation / paper conducted with consultation/inputs from the community leaders was produced.


I hope that clarifies the active role of universities in not just producing / forming politically and socially involved students but also in actively building bridges between rural and urban communities.


Having said that, a question for the team still lingers in me for confirmation: Aside from getting the youth involved with the communities, enlightening them of the issues, and training them to become social activists, does the concept also suggest constructing a policy space through universities, think-tanks, communities and other relevant stakeholders to discuss government’s proposals, especially in current context where there is an increasing number of authoritarian forces all over the world, and come up with evidence-based public policies?


@Vannah Theresa Hi, Vannah! Yes definitely this integration of discussion and research on public policies is very important. Which is why we hope to develop a network (really, a community) of social activists. This community will be built around the ACTIVISITS which is essentially inviting everyone who has participated in an ACTIVISIT to this community. Off the top of my head, if someone who have gone to an ACTIVISIT and finds the need to develop public policy proposals with the communities and other stakeholders, then a space for that can be provided within the network.

Can you tell more about the stakeholders? How do you plan to get them on the table? Where is their benefit?

May 2Edited: May 2

Hello! Thank you for your questions. There are two users for this concept: First, ACTIVE communities (i.e. communities affected by land grabs) and second, ACTIVISITORS who are Universities, civil society organizations, and individuals. In the initial stage, we hope to link rural youth and urban youth-students and later on expand to more sectors as the model for facilitating community interactions becomes more effective and fine-tuned.

1.) ACTIVE communities -- for communities affected by land grabs, their interest is to generate support for their community so that they can be able to better negotiate conditions for their community when these land grabs happen. To make this concrete, our case involves an indigenous community in the Philippines who are to be displaced by the construction of a Dam project; their free, prior and informed consent was not secured in the process. In the face of such a huge problem, support groups and networks are needed in order to reach centers of power mostly found in cities (i.e. the capital Manila)

2.) ACTIVISITORS -- for Universities, they have existing formation programs for their students that are part of the curriculum. These formation programs involve bringing students to communities to be exposed to the realities these communities face and/or to commit some form of service. On their end, there is interest to partner with organizations who may be able to facilitate community interactions. The same may be said of other organizations from civil society and may be for some individuals who are interested in visiting communities to do some community exposure or work.


I love the idea of getting youth to be more involved in the communities! It looks like a very promising model that will gather support for the community and train activists as well. Looking forward, how would you foster more sustainable and lasting relationships among the stakeholders when the youth from the universities finish their degrees?

Hi, Raphael! Thank you for your comment. After each ACTIVISIT, the ACTIVISITORS would be invited to join an online and offline platform (more of a community) of social activists where information, knowledge, capacities, technologies can be developed and exchanged. This community hopefully would give some ideas to students what to do when they finish their degrees.

hello there! I'm an upcoming university student and I really think students like me should be involved more in communities!!

good ideas and very necesary to link University students to communities and engage them with development but when I see the presentation, I don´t get a clear picture what is the innovation you are presenting, is it the methodology how to organize camps?

Yes, Elke, I agree that the concept needs to be detailed further. The innovation is essentially developing a new framework for facilitating community interactions. Oftentimes when visitors go to communities, interact with the people there and commit some form of service, they leave and do not sustain their support (more like "voluntourism"). We hope to develop a model that changes this and instead forms these visitors not as passive visitors but as ACTIVISITORS and develop a community around it. That way we can form thousands of social activists supporting communities especially those facing land grabs.

Reminds me very much much a Youth Leadership Programm we are currently setting-up in Cambodia; very similar concept. Point here: where is the innovation? Where is the difference to existing programs? Out of my experiences such programs always struggle with the objection of empathy: empathy from university students for communities and other way round. May be this is something to be looked in detail.

That's great to hear Dirk, that you're doing something similar! I would like to hear about the result of the program you're conducting. What we hope to do, really is develop a "community-bridging" framework that forms these visitors not as passive visitors but as ACTIVISITORS and develop a community of social activists around it, so that they would give back something more sustainable to communities (for example, supporting communities facing land grabs in their campaigns). I agree that empathy is a challenge, I myself was a teacher in a University bringing students to communities, and that is what the framework hopes to address by building an activist community around these ACTIVISITS.

@Lorenzo Espacio Thanks for your reply. Sound very idealistic. Like the discussion with you. In our concept so far we struggle with the issue that students have certain prejudices against the communities, "know it better" or a slide way of "arrogance". The played with their smartphone and and felt shocked first time using their hands for agriculture activities. Other way round as well: that communities have certain prejudices, as they have seen many young people coming and going without any impact. Therefore our critical issue is now the right identification of such young people and communities - there empathy comes into the plan. Using empathy as the right tool to identify the right people to be active. And then to invest in it and trying to create a long-term empathic partnership. We might working with a selection committee who look into the empathic aspect and to identify the right person.

This is a very interesting and promising concept which can change the way society perceive "activism." It brings social issues in the forefront and recognizes the role of the youth in nation-building.


Nevertheless, I just have a few questions: What are the possible roadblocks of this project and, recognizing them, how do you seek to address them?

May 2Edited: May 2

Thanks, Reyna for this question! One challenge I see is really developing the framework for facilitating these community interactions, in a way that forms visitors into social activists. For example, in my University, the program bringing students to communities has achieved limited success. More research is needed in order to further improve such models so that it would lead to more activists; this is what the concept hopes to further detail. Which is why partnering with Universities is crucial in this concept, not only can we enlist students to participate in this program through the University but also enlist academics to develop this framework.

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