Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Advocating Outside the Box (Or Outhouse?)

Photo Credit: NRDC

Think back to a time that you were so concerned about an issue that you took action. What did you do to make your opinion heard?

As a kid, I always felt the word advocate carried a connotation that made it only applicable to people who took significant action to fight for a cause, like Martin Luther King Jr., for civil rights, or Rachel Carson, for the environment. However, I now understand that advocacy is simply taking action to promote change no matter how simple the action may seem.

Advocacy includes a wide range of actions from the classics - such as lobbying, protests, and civil disobedience - to newer actions that are developing alongside technology. As the internet became a fixture of everyday life, we saw a rise of electronic advocacy, which can include spreading news on social-networking sites or using the internet to organize collective actions like email campaigns.

Increasingly, events are being organized through viral marketing, which takes advantage our tendency to post information to sites like Twitter to disperse information through a self-replicating process similar to how viruses spread.

A recent example of viral marketing includes mass actions organized for World Water Day. March 22nd was designated in 1992 by the United Nations as an international day to raise awareness about the world’s water crisis.

This year, a large number of people celebrated World Water Day as advocates by participating in a global mass action. Thousands of people in over 72 countries stood up for clean water and sanitation by lining up behind a toilet. The purpose of this event, aptly called the World’s Longest Toilet Queue, was to bring people together to voice their support for international government action to fight the water crisis.

This international event was organized promoted using social sites like Facebook and Twitter. A queue was even formed near New Voices neighborhood today, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC!

More pictures across the globe can be seen at the World’s Longest Toilet Queue’s Flickr page.

The Toilet Queue wasn’t the only event held for World Water Day. Did any of you, our readers, participate in events? We’d love to hear about it!

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