16 JUNE 2019

I did an act of activism every day for a month, this is what happened.

May 2019, the smell of change was in the air. Activists were bleary eyed and the election trail was blazing around the country - snag eatin', lord praisin' and coal lovin'!

There was more work than could be comprehended to be done to flip Australia from our present idleness, to our potential future progress. There were phones to be banked, doors to be knocked, and thumbs to be punching out #voteclimate Insta posts. This is why May was the perfect month for me to Shift.

Shift was started by my great friend. She was tired of the activist space being unwelcoming and often overwhelming for people without any experience to join, and felt among her peers that people wanted to create change but didn't know where to start.

In a time when you need to have all the facts, it can be far too intimidating for most to engage in a climate debate, to call out gendered language, or to aggressively kindly remind people about the destructive effects of our capitalist society. So Shift acts as a sort of bootcamp, giving us the tools, knowledge and confidence that we need to be more activist. It also provides us with our own grassroots community: 5-6 other Shifters and two facilitators, to give you encouragement, guidance and ideas along the way.

I'd done Shift before in 2018, and found it both motivating and overwhelming, as activism always is. But every time I heard ScoMo's pro-coal, pro-religion, anti-immigration policy platform, another fire was lit in my belly to act on what I believe in.

So I did it, and I did it in May. Five acts per week for a month was the memo, and I was more ready than ever to create change.

Week 1: fired up.

I'm starting this week feeling a bit overwhelmed with how much needs to be done, there are so many opportunities and options for how to engage with the activist movement, I'm not sure where to start. We had a welcome session over the weekend where we all came together and brainstormed ideas, which was a huge help.

I start small, writing a submission for a local bike lane that I want to see built, and encouraging my fellow Shifters to do the same in our group chat. Within days, and against the odds, the bike lane is approved! This inspired us to go bigger.

The rest of the week was filled with donations to independent journalism (crucial at election time), petition signing for the climate movement, and submissions to the state government on their lack of recycling policy. I finished week 1 feeling ready to turn it up.

Week 2: coming in hot.

The end of this week is election day, so this is going to be a big one. It feels really powerful to be part of a tight-knit group that is working towards the same goal, and encouraging each other along the way.

This week I feel courageous enough to talk to my community about being climate voters, I've posted publicly almost daily with information about the climate crisis, linked my friends and colleagues to independent environment-focused how to vote cards, and spoken to my parents and grandparents about their voting plans. I'm living and breathing the climate election.

On election day, I volunteer for the Australian Conservation Foundation, handing out cards to voters that score the major parties on their environmental policies (FYI in news that surprises no one: Greens - 99, Labor - 56, Coalition - 4). Being on the front lines has been the highlight of my month so far and made me realise that I wanted to do this kind of work so much more often.

Week 3: grief and healing.

So this week really came around like a smack in the face. The efforts of not only our Shift group, but the entire climate activist movement, failed.

This week, we came together as a group for our half-way meet up to discuss our thoughts, reflect on our failures, and grieve together. It was debilitating and beyond devastating, we weren't sure how we could re-engage with the activist space after this monumental failure. So this week became about reflection and deciding what we want to do next.

We have spent the week emailing leaders of the movement to thank them for their work, and I reached out to a couple of organisations that I want to volunteer with. Overall, it wasn't the week we planned for or wanted.

Week 4: picking ourselves back up.

With the support of my group I feel reinvigorated and ready to begin acting on all the reflection and planning that we did last week. I'm giving my time more to some other causes that I neglected in the election build-up, aiming to broaden my focus.

This week, following the horrific murder of a young woman experiencing homelessness, our group rallied around the issues of homelessness and gender inequality. We contacted our MPs to demand better housing solutions, donated to funeral funds, signed petitions and attended the community vigil. It was warming to see our group focus its efforts on where they were needed.

In our final meet up we reflected on the month and what it meant to us all. We all felt empowered to remain part of the activist space, we all had ideas of what we wanted to do next, and had all learnt a thing or two about democracy (don't trust polls etc.).


My month with Shift reminded me that the activist lifecycle doesn't have an end or a beginning, it's always there, and goes where it's needed. It rallies around crises and urgent causes, bolsters ongoing movements and creates space for everyone who wants to be there.

Going forward, I am attending more community environment meetings, continuing with my social media outspokenness, and never shying away from a conversation or calling out injustice. Shift gave me the support to never doubt putting what I believe in into my actions.

Georgia Gibson. 2019.