Small People, Big Protest: why bother?

Posted on May 23rd, 2018

Poster for All Points East Festival.

A week today, Coney presents Small People, Big Protest at All Points East In The Neighbourhood. It’s a project made by Coney with families, to help small people respond to big ideas about the world. Georgina Bednar, an Associate of Coney and one of the artists behind the project, explains why this is so important.

School children protesting against education

I studied politics at school, it fascinated me – how does the big wide world work? I went on to study international politics at University and the sad truth is, I can’t really remember as much as I would like about the 1994 Northern Ireland Peace Treaty or the exact details of the American elections work (it’s actually really complex, don’t judge). What has stayed with me, however, is a confidence to read news stories knowing I might only understand some of it. And a confidence to have my own opinions on world events as they unfold. Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t necessarily highbrow stuff. I will happily muscle in on conversations across the full spectrum of the role of Israel in the Middle East, and Eurovision.

Young People (18-24 year-olds) vote less than the silver surfers of today by a fair whack. In the 2015 general election, 43% of our youth took to the polls compared to 78% of those aged 65+. That’s nearly double. And what I find most shocking about this, as someone who has chatted to a lot of young people about the state of play, is that they care. They care A LOT. Check out any cause or campaign on social media and you will find an active youth army on both sides of the discussion.

Over the last ten years, political and civic education has pretty much ‘left the building’. Or should I say, curriculum. Political education that was once worth half a GCSE is now squeezed into the odd session as part of the social, spiritual and cultural curriculum. And for this to go well, it relies on passionate teachers who can bring politics to life, outside of their core subject time. And so less young people are learning about politics, less well.

Small People Big Protest is born of a desire to get young people excited about activism and to ask questions about how the system ‘works’ from a very young age. It’s also a call to action for the rest of us. Young people often over-simplify big world issues and, in doing so, come up with pretty brilliant campaign ideas. It is intended to be fun, loud and very public – everything a good political rally should be.

We hope you can come and join us for our first Protest at All Points East Festival

And if you can’t, here are some top tips for you and your small people to get up to speed…

  1. Watch 10 minutes of news a day. Newsround is actually pretty good these days…
  2. Visit our institutions. Did you know you can write to your MP and get tickets to climb Big Ben? Worth it just for the view…
  3. Vote as a family, even if your kids can’t vote. It’s impressive to get close to real power, on your doorstep.
  4. Let young people be passionate about issues that matter to them. This will most likely involve some level of vegetarianism, but hey, 5 a day and all that.
  5. Find politicians you like.

We moan about politicians all the time. It’s fun. But there are actually some good ones. Amy Lamé is the Night Czar of London, and she kicks arse. Dr Taylor is an independent MP who was elected to parliament on a ‘save our hospital’ ticket platform outside of the big parties. Not just once, but twice. Glenda Jackson was a famous actress before she sat in Parliament.

There are 650 of those MP’s. Find one that inspires you.

Small People, Big Protest is completely free to attend, and you can get involved whether you’re a family, a parent with young people or just a regular festival goer! Sign ups for the workshops with young people will open from midday.

Midday – 2pm: Sign-ups open for young people’s workshops

2 – 3.30pm: Young people’s workshops

3.30 – 4pm: Procession and celebration led by the young people, everyone welcome to join

The dates are Wednesday 30th – Thursday 31st May at All Points East Festival, Victoria Park London, as part of In The Neighbourhood.

Come along and help us make a protest to remember, you can find Coney in the Kids Area in bright colours! 

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