How to go from protest movement to real social change?

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An interesting thing to look at with the protest movements gaining steam worldwide is how they’re evolving and combining. Occupy Wall St. and the Spanish Indignant Movement (where students have been protesting since May) are melding in cities across America and Europe. While not all protests this weekend were peaceful, they mostly have been, and the emotional pitch is, if anything, rising over time.

[Read more about Spanish Indignant Movement here, and here. Also, a very interesting students’ rights/education movement going down in Chile.]

The message still seems oversimplified to me, but we obviously need to pay attention to something that’s already lasted over 100 days in NYC. The protests made it into our backyard in a big way this weekend, with thousands protesting in downtown Phoenix and Tucson, and around 130 arrests/citations between the two cities.

photo via

I still don’t think they’ve made the leap from protest movement to social change movement, but the possibility is real. For that to happen, momentum must extend into other areas of society, such as education, art, music – even media. A connection must be made between the “1%” who control politics and banking to the “1%” on top of making high-budget movies with little cultural contribution, and the “1%” who influence the price of university tuition and student loans. #OccupyHollywood , anyone?

There are signs this could happen, or are already happening. Nesima has already mentioned the Website for Occupy College, and protesters are starting to document their movement in more artistic and powerful ways than uploaded videos of police lines. Take, for example, this short film that depicts the evolution of the Spanish Indignant Movement:

Indignant Evolution

The cathartic appeal of Occupy and The Indignants is through the roof. Whether or not these movements lead to radical social change, people around the world at least need these things to be said.

Most important to us as journalists is that these protesters are documenting themselves with photos, Websites, events pages and social media organization. It’s hard to view such a polarizing phenomenon with an objective lens, I’ll attempt to do that with my next blog post, a Storify about the #OccupyPhoenix campaign.