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Can Grassroots Activism Make a Difference?

Grassroot Activism
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We see people out on the streets every day holding picket signs or marching for a cause.  The question is really whether any of this does a bit of good.  If not, what’s the point?  Nobody wants to yell and scream for no reason.  So, can grassroots activism make a difference?

The answer, from what we can tell, is yes.  Obviously not all activists will be heard, and not all causes take off.  However, when they do, change happens.

A good example of this is the change in police policy after many people complained about aggressive stop-and-frisk tactics.  It didn’t change overnight, but took grassroots efforts to get people to understand why these tactics were racist and discriminatory.  The New York City police officers were allowed to stop and frisk anyone they believed looked suspicious.  That led directly to racial profiling.

This past summer, the New York City Council and a federal judge made changes to rectify the situation.  “Crowds of people rallied every day outside the courthouse and let their voices be heard as legislators passed bills creating an inspector general to oversee the police department and a legal path for New Yorkers to challenge discriminatory policing,” according to “The Chronicle of Philanthropy.”

The fact that actual changes occurred based on a grassroots movement shows that it really can work.  However, it involves a lot of planning, organizing, rallying and hard work.  In this case, many different small organizations were brought together to form a larger coalition.  Together their voices were stronger and louder.

One of the things philanthropists need to keep in mind is that they should not give up once the media moves on to the next big thing.  The fight is never totally over.  Stopping one type of discriminatory practice does not end discrimination.  There is always more work to do.  That may sound daunting, but it’s the truth.

The good news is that we are seeing more young people get involved in trying to effect social change.  They are joining the movement via social media and in person.  With all the new support, perhaps big changes are on the horizon.

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Leonardo DiCaprio to Auction Art for Charity

leonardo dicaprio
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Leonardo DiCaprio is making waves this week for teaming up with Christie’s to auction off art for charity. Of course, this isn’t the first time art has been donated and auctioned off to benefit philanthropic organizations—but it is the biggest Christie’s auction for such a cause yet. DiCaprio and Loic Gouzer of Christie’s will auction off 33 artworks on May 13th, including some items from their personal collections. The sale is expected to bring in some $25 million.

A longtime supporter of environmental causes, Leonardo DiCaprio has been praised by environmental groups for his activism. For this auction, he approached several artists and collectors personally, asking them if they would donate works for the auction. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go toward environmental causes.

DiCaprio is putting up at least one of his owned pieces for auction, a photograph by Andreas Gursky called “Ocean V,” which is expected to bring in about $500,000, according to the Wall Street Journal. Francois Pinot, who owns Christie’s, is also putting up a work for auction. “The Tiger” by Zeng Fanzhi is expected to go for around $1.5 million.

Other works to be auctioned off include Robert Longo’s “Untitled (Leo),” Mark Grotjahn’s “Untitled (Standard Lotus No. 11, Bird of Paradise, Tiger Mouth Face 44.01), and Richard Prince’s “Silhouette Cowboy.”

The auction, titled “11th Hour Auction,” will benefit the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. “My Foundation has worked on environmental issues since 1998, and despite the great efforts by organizations all over the world, our planet is in trouble,” DiCaprio said in a statement.

“The modern world is placing enormous pressure on the very natural systems that sustain us; we are destroying our forests, polluting the air and water, overfishing our oceans and facing overwhelming extinction rates of plants and animals.”