Digital Campaigning Event on Move Your Money in association with shiftLabs & YPHR

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Via www.shiftlabs.org

On Wednesday 29th Feb, the Centre for Creative Collaboration housed an event in association with shiftLabs (where I work – www.shiftlabs.org) and Young Professionals in Human Rights (where I organise social events – www.yphr.org.uk) on digital campaigning and Move Your Money UK.

shiftLabs’ Karina Brisby and Jason Wojciechowski discussed how individuals can use digital tools to promote and share causes that they are passionate about, the power of media and the 5 shifts in campaigning that are the fundamental focus of shiftLabs. Discussion ensued about the ethics of international campaigning and the impact of lobbying for change in cultures and behavior.

Next, we had Danni Paffard, from the Move Your Money UK campaign talking passionately about the goals and ambitions of MYM and the wider movement. So, why we should we all move our money?

  • The banks have failed us and are refusing to change. So now its up to us to make a positive decision about where to put our money.
  • By moving our money we can directly support an ethical and socially useful bank, and send a message about the sort of society and economy we want to see. And one we’d rather not.
  • Movements and campaigns like Occupy LSX, Move Your Money, the Robin Hood Tax, UK Uncut etc show that public anger with the banks is at an all time high – it’s time to act on this and steer our leaders in the direction we want them to take.
  • The campaign follows a highly successful movement in the US which has led to over 10 million people moving their money into local financial institutions. Over 40,000 people moved their accounts in a single day. Wow.

Visit www.moveyourmoney.org.uk for more info and answers to all your money moving questions.

The best feature of the MYM website is the section where money movers tell us their reasons why – here are a few recent ones:

“To leave my money in a bank when I know what they do would be unethical’

“To use banks & building societies that are more ethical”

“The banking system should be run like a utility, not a rigged casino for a small elite”

and a classic: “Bankers are evil.” Nice.

MYM is an interesting campaign from another angle – it’s a good combination of online and offline action. The main bulk of campaigning, story sharing and general ‘talk’ happens via social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and blogs, whereas the action itself provides great opportunity for a group of friends to all pledge to move their money on the same day and head down to their banks during a lunch-break, for example. We shouldn’t be shy to tell our banks why we’re moving as well; if 10 people do this everyday, they are going to sit up and take notice.

On a slight tangent, shiftLabs are in conversation with the Poverty Action Lab, mentioned by Jason at this event, (http://www.povertyactionlab.org/), which is run by the same people who wrote the phenomenal book ‘Poor Economics’ – Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo. This book is an absolute essential read for anyone working on or who cares about issues surrounding poverty, inequality or growth, and has completely revolutionized the way I think about development.

Buy it / download it / borrow it today.

How Austerity is Destroying Greek Society: A Report from Athens

via www.liberalconspiracy.org

Theo has two degrees. “Last year I had a job in commerce and a salary. Now I am selling my possessions on the street and living day-to-day after my wage was reduced to €3 an hour due to cuts. I quit my job due to the degradation of such a low wage but many of my colleagues are still working under those conditions.”

Most of his friends have left Greece for Italy and Switzerland. The government is now calling for a further 22% cut to the minimum wage.

The austerity measures being imposed on Greece are hard to argue for, from a social, political or financial point of view.


[picture of Theo, above]

Hundreds of parents do not have money or food for their children. Four children, including a newborn baby, were recently abandoned on the doorstep of the youth centre, Ark of the World in Athens.

Anna, aged four, was left at her school holding a note that read: “I will not be coming to pick up Anna today because I cannot afford to look after her. Please take good care of her. Sorry.”

Judging by the latest protests and riots, it is clear that if these are imposed on the Greek public, a social explosion is inevitable. Not to mention the possibility of the military, who have been in check since the fall of the dictatorship in 1974, making an unwelcome comeback.

Violent crime is increasing. Recently a girl’s house was robbed during the day and her 17-year old sister’s face was slashed. This is by no means an isolated incident.

The government even switch off the traffic lights at night in an effort to save money and Zoe, a waitress, said they have also stopped all food testing.

Marlena, a store owner, in downtown Athens told me that she is experiencing significantly lower sales, an increase in theft and a lot of drug use outside her shop. I myself saw dozens of people injecting heroin in broad daylight. Ella, an estate agent, paid more in taxes than she earned in the period between December 2011 and February 2012.


[a common sentiment in Greece]

The Communist Party and the extreme-right wing party are experiencing big surges in support, primarily from the youth, over 50% of whom are unemployed.

On top of that, the asylum situation in Greece has now been declared a humanitarian crisis by the UN: a first for Europe. This short documentary outlines just how abhorrent life is for the immigrants.

Ultimately, it remains that huge wage cuts, slashed pensions and multiple tax hikes are not ways to save a failing economy. By defaulting and reverting to the Drachma, Greece would be able to shrink its existing debt to half and increase the competitiveness of its exports.

There would also be a renaissance in Greek industries meaning desperately needed job creation and a boost to public morale.

The transition will not be easy, but for Theo, Marlena, Anna and millions more Greeks – this may be the only option if they are to survive this crisis.

The average taxi driver now makes between €15 and €20 a day – one told me that he has three children and high expenses. With the constant tax hikes soon he won’t be able to cover his families basic needs: “Forget university, I am worried that I won’t be able to keep a roof over my children’s heads in the coming months.”

Names have been changed to protect people’s identities

The overwhelming response to this article was: “I had no idea things were so bad.”

My question is, as campaigners, what can we do to highlight these issues in the media, provide support to the Greek people and shift the debate away from a solely economic and political viewpoint?

Any thoughts on this are very welcome.