Activism for Beginners: Where to Start and How to Get Involved

In a world full of pressing social and environmental issues, the desire to make a positive impact is shared by many. Activism provides an avenue for individuals to contribute to change, but for beginners, the prospect of getting involved can be overwhelming. This guide aims to demystify activism, offering practical advice on where to start and how to become an effective advocate for the causes that matter to you.

Understanding Activism

Before diving into the practical aspects, it’s essential to grasp the essence of activism. At its core, activism is the pursuit or advocacy of social, political, environmental, or economic change. Activists engage in various activities, from raising awareness and educating others to participating in protests or lobbying for policy changes.

Identify Your Passion

The first step in becoming an activist is identifying the cause that resonates with you. What issues are you passionate about? Whether it’s climate change, social justice, human rights, or animal welfare, finding a cause that aligns with your values will sustain your motivation in the long run.

Educate Yourself

Once you’ve identified your passion, educate yourself about the issue. Read books, articles, and research papers to deepen your understanding. Follow reputable news sources and subscribe to newsletters from reputable organizations dedicated to your chosen cause. Knowledge is a powerful tool for any activist, as it enables you to articulate your views persuasively and counter misinformation.

Start Small: Local Activism

Getting involved in local initiatives is an excellent way to dip your toes into activism. Attend community meetings, join local groups, and connect with like-minded individuals. Local activism allows you to witness the direct impact of your efforts and build a support network.

Attend Events and Workshops

Many organizations host events, workshops, and seminars to educate and mobilize activists. Attend these gatherings to learn from experienced advocates, share ideas, and connect with people who share your passion. Workshops can provide valuable skills, such as effective communication, community organizing, and campaign management.

Leverage Social Media

In the digital age, social media is a powerful tool for activism. Create or follow accounts dedicated to your cause on platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Share information, engage in discussions, and amplify the voices of those directly affected by the issues you care about. Social media can help you connect with a global community of activists and raise awareness on a larger scale.

Volunteer for Nonprofit Organizations

Nonprofit organizations play a crucial role in driving positive change. Identify reputable organizations working on your chosen cause and offer your time as a volunteer. Whether it’s assisting with events, conducting research, or managing social media accounts, your skills can contribute to their mission.

Fundraising

Financial support is often essential for activist organizations. Organize fundraisers or participate in existing campaigns to contribute to the financial sustainability of the causes you care about. From hosting events to creating online crowdfunding campaigns, fundraising allows you to make a tangible impact.

Engage with Local Government

Advocacy at the governmental level is a powerful way to effect change. Attend town hall meetings, write letters to your representatives, and engage in peaceful protests to make your voice heard. Understanding the legislative process and building relationships with local policymakers can lead to meaningful policy changes.

Network and Collaborate

Collaboration is key in the world of activism. Network with other activists, organizations, and community leaders. By working together, you can amplify your impact, share resources, and contribute to a more comprehensive approach to tackling the issues at hand.

Stay Informed and Adaptable

The landscape of activism is dynamic, with new challenges and opportunities arising regularly. Stay informed about current events, emerging issues, and evolving strategies. Being adaptable and open to learning ensures that your activism remains effective and relevant.

Conclusion

Activism for beginners is a journey of self-discovery, education, and action. By identifying your passion, educating yourself, starting locally, leveraging social media, volunteering, engaging with local government, and building a network, you can become a powerful advocate for positive change. Remember, every small action contributes to a larger movement, and together, we can create a better, more just world.

6 Reasons Why Activism is More Important Than Ever

In a world facing numerous challenges, activism has become a vital force for change. The power of collective action has never been more apparent, and as we navigate complex global issues, activism emerges as a beacon of hope. In this article, we explore six compelling reasons why activism is more crucial than ever in today’s society.

1. Environmental Crisis Demands Urgent Action

As climate change accelerates and ecosystems teeter on the brink of collapse, environmental activism has taken center stage. The urgency to address climate issues, deforestation, and pollution has never been more critical. Activists play a pivotal role in holding governments and corporations accountable, advocating for sustainable practices, and raising awareness about the fragile state of our planet. Through grassroots movements and international collaborations, activists are driving conversations that are essential for a sustainable future.

2. Social Justice Imperatives

In an era marked by heightened awareness of systemic inequalities, social justice activism has gained momentum. Movements advocating for racial equality, gender justice, and LGBTQ+ rights have highlighted the pervasive discrimination that persists in societies worldwide. Activists are at the forefront of challenging oppressive systems, demanding accountability, and fighting for inclusivity. As we navigate an ever-evolving social landscape, activism serves as a catalyst for positive change, ensuring that marginalized voices are heard and respected.

3. Technological Advancements and Ethical Concerns

In a world dominated by rapid technological advancements, ethical concerns often take a backseat. Activism in the tech sphere has become increasingly crucial, addressing issues like data privacy, surveillance, and the ethical use of artificial intelligence. Activists play a pivotal role in shaping policies that safeguard individual rights and privacy, ensuring that technological progress aligns with ethical standards. As technology continues to reshape our world, activism becomes a necessary counterbalance to prevent the erosion of fundamental rights.

4. Global Health Crises Require Collaborative Efforts

The ongoing global health crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, underscore the need for coordinated and proactive responses. Activists are instrumental in advocating for equitable access to healthcare, challenging misinformation, and holding governments accountable for their pandemic response. Beyond pandemics, health-related activism extends to issues like mental health awareness, substance abuse, and the broader challenges of healthcare accessibility. In a world interconnected by shared vulnerabilities, activism serves as a unifying force in addressing global health challenges.

5. Political Accountability and Democracy

As democracies face increasing challenges, activism becomes a cornerstone of political accountability. Activists work tirelessly to ensure that democratic principles are upheld, holding governments accountable for their actions and advocating for transparent and accountable governance. Whether in the form of protests, advocacy campaigns, or grassroots movements, activism fosters an engaged citizenry that actively participates in shaping the political landscape. In an era where the foundations of democracy are tested, activism becomes an essential tool for preserving the ideals of justice and equality.

6. Educational Advocacy for an Informed Society

In the age of information, misinformation and disinformation spread rapidly, affecting public perceptions and attitudes. Activists engaged in educational advocacy are critical in promoting critical thinking, media literacy, and a well-informed society. By challenging false narratives and promoting evidence-based knowledge, activists contribute to creating a populace capable of making informed decisions. In an era where misinformation can have far-reaching consequences, educational activism is key to fostering a society that values truth and understanding.

Conclusion

In a rapidly changing world fraught with challenges, activism emerges as a force that can shape a brighter future. Whether addressing environmental crises, advocating for social justice, or ensuring ethical considerations in technology, activists play a crucial role in driving positive change. As we navigate the complexities of the 21st century, the importance of activism cannot be overstated—it is not just a choice but a necessity for a more just, sustainable, and equitable world. Embracing activism means embracing the power of collective action and recognizing that our voices, when united, can create waves of change that resonate far beyond the present moment.

Why Does Concrete Change Color? Reasons Explained

Concrete projects, whether working on brand new or existing concrete, can sometimes feel like high-stakes chemistry experiments.

The art of concrete is not a wholly complicated concept, but a multitude of factors can impact the overall appearance of your finished concrete, including moisture content of the mixture, weather conditions, curing conditions, porosity, and the overall composition of the mixture used.

The potential for variability between all of these factors can translate into inconsistent or unexpected color results for a new pour or concrete discoloration on existing work.

What do we mean by concrete discoloration and why does it occur?

The most common concrete discoloration issues observed are blotchy surfaces with variations between lighter and darker colors and white patches appearing on the surface of recently cured or long-existing concrete surfaces. The suspected causes and possible resolutions are shared, below.

Inconsistent or Blotchy Appearance (Darker Shades Mixed with Lighter Shades)

This form of concrete discoloration is usually a result of inconsistent water content, inconsistent mixing, inconsistent curing conditions, or poor workmanship. If you are not having your concrete mix delivered in one big batch and are mixing small batches and using them for the same project, you are much more likely to end up with a blotchy or inconsistent appearance. This is the case for a few reasons:

Inconsistent Water Content

The more water added to a concrete mix, the lighter it will be when it cures. If multiple batches are made and used on the same project, and even just a little more water is used in one batch versus another, you may experience both darker shades and lighter shades on the same concrete surface. To combat this, it’s important to precisely measure the ingredients for each batch and maintain the same moisture content between each.

A slightly more difficult task is to maintain the same prep-time and environmental conditions between each batch, as these variables can also impact how dry your concrete mix is when poured, thus creating color variations throughout your concrete. Your best bet is to use a consistent, single batch per project whenever possible.

Inconsistent Mixing

Concrete mixes often contain a compound called Calcium Chloride which accelerates the hydration of cement and speeds up the time it takes for concrete to set. However, if mixing is not consistent throughout each batch and between all batches, some areas of your pour will cure and dry slower than other areas, thereby creating both lighter and darker sections intermixed on the surface of a single concrete project. As with moisture content, it’s best to use one consistent, well mixed batch per project whenever possible.

Inconsistent Curing Conditions

There are basically two common types of curing concrete: wet curing and dry curing. Wet curing creates a much stronger concrete in comparison to dry curing because the water within the concrete mix evaporates much more slowly. Wet curing can mean spraying down the concrete multiple times per day, or it can mean covering the concrete with a polyethylene cover or a curing blanket.

Concrete discoloration can occur no matter which method of curing you choose for any number of reasons discussed in this article, but it all generally comes down to drying conditions and how consistent curing can be in terms of time, moisture, and temperature.

One example of this variability being possible (even when consistency is strived for) comes from using a polyethylene cover during a wet cure and still experiencing concrete discoloration due to something called the “greenhouse effect”. As moisture evaporates at the surface of the concrete, wrinkles in the cover can unevenly capture moisture. The moisture then condenses and drips back onto the surface of the concrete inconsistently, thus allowing the concrete to dry unevenly and creating a blotchy appearance in the finished concrete.

Variability in the weather can cause inconsistencies in concrete coloring as well. For example, it can rain during an uncovered cure, it can be very hot outside and one part of the concrete can be in the shade while the other is not, it can be very windy and whisk away moisture from the surface unevenly, etc.

In order to combat concrete discoloration, the goal should always be consistency throughout mixing, pouring, troweling, and curing during a concrete project. It is also beneficial to use a curing compound to assist in maintaining consistency, as these products create an even, protective film that prevents water from evaporating too rapidly. Some even perform double duty and act as a sealer while also acting as a curing compound.

Poor Workmanship

Concrete discoloration isn’t only caused by environmental factors like mixing consistency and evaporation speed. It can also be caused by the person performing the work. Trowel burning is a common issue that results in dark patches of concrete as a result of hard-troweling to the point that the concrete is made more dense as the water content is reduced by effectively pushing water from the trowel-burned area to non-trowel burned areas. This generally occurs when the surface is so stiff that the trowel can be held at a greater angle without affecting the overall surface texture. The increase in angle also increases the pressure of the trowel on the underlying material. To avoid this issue, avoid increasing your trowel angle and maintain consistent troweling pressure throughout your project.

Patches of White Minerals on a Concrete Surface

This form of concrete discoloration is typically due to a process called efflorescence, which is defined loosely as the movement of salts through porous material. There are two forms of efflorescence that can change the appearance of concrete: primary and secondary. Each of these can impact concrete at different times and in different ways.

Efflorescence, Explained

In order to help you visualize the process of efflorescence, consider a recently poured, not yet fully cured, and unsealed slab of concrete that has been placed or formed on moist ground.

Because concrete is a very porous substance, it contains small pockets of void space in between and throughout the entire material structure. These pockets provide excellent pathways for water and water-soluble minerals, including salts, to migrate upwards towards the surface. At the surface, the water eventually evaporates, and the salts that were dissolved in the water are left behind, no longer dissolved and causing white patches of discoloration that can sometimes be difficult to remove.

Primary efflorescence occurs during curing and does not incorporate any type of chemical reaction to the concrete or the additives added to the mixture, itself. Rather, this process simply deposits salts onto the surface of the concrete that are already present within the concrete mixture, thereby changing the color of the concrete surface while not impacting the overall structure in any way.

Secondary efflorescence occurs when an external water source, like rain or snow, comes into contact with the concrete which then absorbs the water and water-soluble salts that were not a part of the original concrete mix. An example of this is when road salt mixes with snow and melts in a parking garage. This type of efflorescence has the potential to structurally alter the concrete by slowly dissolving components of it while also causing discoloration, and is, therefore, of arguably greater concern than primary efflorescence.

How to Prevent or Remove Discoloration Caused by Efflorescence?

If you did not choose any additives to prevent efflorescence and your concrete has already been poured, you might begin to notice white patches of salt on the surface of your concrete as the concrete cures. The trick is to remove the deposits as you notice them and before they solidify or react with the concrete surface. If you can manage that, all you may need to do is brush off or rinse away the deposits with a pressurized washer. However, without additional modification, these white patches may continue to appear intermittently and will need to be cleaned each time in order to prevent them from requiring more extensive removal efforts over time, like acid washing or grinding.

If you find that you are unable to brush or wash away the white patches, you can try washing the efflorescence away with diluted vinegar (for a more natural solution) or a cleaning product specifically designed to remove efflorescence without the over-use of acids that can make the problem worse, or you can use an acid like hydrochloric or phosphoric acid. Keep in mind that if you use a strong acid to remove efflorescence, you will need to neutralize it with a mild base and rinse thoroughly with water so as not to damage your concrete. If this still does not work, try grinding off the efflorescence with a concrete grinder.

However, it is much more beneficial to prevent primary efflorescence in the first place rather than attempting to solve the problem later on. One such preventative would be to use admixtures capable of transforming salts into other non-leachable, non-migrating chemicals anytime water is present.

Another option is to place a barrier between other materials and the concrete in order to prevent the uptake of water and water-soluble salts, something called a capillary break. Capillary breaks can be in the form of a membrane or a liquid.

A third option is to use a deeply-penetrating, impregnating, hydrophobic sealer which works by repelling water, thereby preventing water-soluble salts from penetrating the concrete from above or below.

Colorful Concrete Discoloration (Blue, Green, Orange, or Red)

Blue or Green Discoloration

A common component of concrete is slag cement which works together with Portland cement to strengthen concrete by reducing its porosity, inhibiting the corrosion of rebar, and increasing its overall resistance to a common internal concrete phenomenon called “chemical attack”. However, the iron sulfides and ferrous oxides present in slag cement can cause blue and green discoloration in concrete, especially those pieces poured into non-lumber forms.

This type of concrete discoloration is caused by incomplete chemical reactions between the slag cement, Portland cement, and oxygen in the air, and is often observed in concrete that is poured into large forms with coated or non-porous surfaces, like melamine plywood or steel. This is because these kinds of forms allow much less air into the form than lumber does and the degree of discoloration is increased when less air is able to reach the concrete.

This kind of discoloration can be prevented by using lumber forms or by loosening or opening the forms as soon as feasible after pouring and setting, but discoloration can be improved after the fact with time and air exposure. Highly oxygenating substances can also help remove this kind of discoloration, such as hydrogen peroxide, when applied directly to the affected concrete.

Orange or Red Discoloration

Orange and red shades are additional variations of concrete discoloration. However, rather than occurring due to any aspect of the formation of the concrete, this type of discoloration generally occurs on existing concrete and is caused by frequent contact with water that either has a high iron content or is caused by oxidized iron-containing (rusted) metals being in close contact with the concrete, especially after continuous contact with water.

An acid-based cleaner can assist in removal of rust stains from concrete, whether a professional-grade product or a common household acid, like vinegar, lemon juice, or soda.

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