Last Saturday I facilitated a session on Personal Activism at Positively UK conference for people living with HIV. My partner in crime in the session, co-facilitating, was Tom Hayes, the rising star of the HIV blogosphere behind the UK Positive Lad blog and tweeter feed, as well as editor of the new online magazine Beyondpositive.
On our session we first looked at sources of inspiration. What inspires us, and why. And especially what happens when we are inspired. Very often people who inspire us fire up our personal activism.
Our sources of inspiration came from a wide range of people: from the famous and important, universally renown such as Nelson Mandela, Aung Saan Su Kyi to the young and brave as the Afghan school girl Malala Yousafzai who was shot in the head by the Taliban for speaking up in favour of girls education.
For some of us our sources of inspirations were closer to home and many spoke of our parents, as source of inspiration, or even our children. Another enormous source of inspiration are other HIV activists, who have fought tirelessly for medication to be developed and improved, that have established the Denver Principles, who have made UN member states sign to GIPA , and who have taken Big Pharma to court to make HIV medications affordable and accessible to all those who need them in low and middle income countries.
Tom took over the second part of the workshop and explained the pros and cons of social networks.
Throughout the session we stressed the three P of Personal Activism:
Prepare: know your facts, practice with a friend, be aware of your audience.
Promote: be clear of what your messages are. What do you want your listeners to do?
Protect: be safe and secure. You can be anonymous or use a pseudonym if it isn’t safe to be open about your status.
We finally asked all participants to write their own 140 character tweet and a selection of them were projected at the closing session of the conference .