Protesting just got sexier!
Was it the headline that pulled you in?
Could I have been pulling cheap tricks with potential idiomatic consequences, which may or may not, lend itself to the true essence of this article?
There is no misogyny intended, in reference to my use of chicks instead of women. It just ranks better in the SERPS. As the late great Oscar Wild said
“Better to write for SERPS and have no public, than to write for the public and have no SERPS.”
Now down to the meat and potatoes.
Boobies with a Purpose
Perhaps not as catchy as Passports with a Purpose (a terrific cause), albeit much sexier, the women from FEMEN put on their topless protest sexing up the Olympics, just the appropriate amount to drawn attention to their cause. Because of their brave sacrifices I will use these actions as a vehicle to address two important topics.
The first being to open up the discussion around Travel and Activism and the role travel bloggers and writers can possibly have in this endeavor. The second topic being ethics in travel blogging and how it can shape both the focus of our travels and the subjects we cover in our writing.
Travel and Activism
A loaded topic to say the least. When I speak of activism I do not necessarily mean protest – militant or otherwise. I use the phrase in the broadest sense of the meaning. Activism in the form of taking an active attitude, an active part in events in the world around you.
Los Indignados Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
I am no stranger to the social concerns and political events happening in the societies I visit while traveling. I have squatted with Los Indignados in Brussels at an abandoned school building and acted in the role of spectator during my time in London for the protests/rallies taking place on Boat Race Day 2011 (Pimms O' Clock for some). Activism can come in many forms.
Activism in and of itself has become its own unique sub culture, whatever your passions, actions or beliefs. This is somewhat expected in societies, that promote individualism above all else, as the act of socially conscientious thought, action and duty are seen as an individual undertaking and a personal journey. While individual responsibility and the recognition of our own actions is necessary, it should be noted that this view mitigates the impact of any actions in the greater context of their meaning and reason for existence, which is too affect the societies we inhabit.
It would seem common wisdom these days is for one percieved as an activist, to check their belief system (whether overt or not) at the door when entering a different social construct – be it church, the family diner table, work or school. Perhaps more needs to be done it regards to normalizing what is seen as abnormal, as there seems to be added interest these days to the collective direction we are all taking.
Our roles in this world are all different and each of us has a unique story, our own interests, talents and beliefs.
Why not use these in ways which can enrich the societies we visit and the world we live in? This subject is covered quite beautifully by Ethan Gelber of Travelllll.com in his piece on Responsible Travel where he says “Vision is not seeing things as they are, but as they will be.”
This is not to say that all our pursuits, all our energies and actions must bare the fruit of social well being. What I am saying.
"Allow this to act as a divining rod that steers you toward positive experiences, destinations and locations instead of anecdotal thought."
A personal example of where I would merge my passion for sustainability (in its many forms) and alternative social models along with my interest in travel and cultures would be to visit the Mondragon Corporation of the Basque region in Spain. A federation of worker owned cooperatives which boasts some the the healthiest continuous growth and expansion even during the wild economic times of Europe today.
Perhaps one day, the next time I am Europe.
Though the Mondragon model has taken hold in the United States, particularly in the dying Rust Belt of the Midwest, thanks to entrepreneurial endeavors of forward thinking businessmen and off all things (gasp) unions! So maybe I can observe from the comfort of my own country.
Ethics in Travel Blogging
I urge individuals who travel (be they bloggers or tourists) to act in such a way that aligns with their beliefs.
For the travel writter it can be as simple as visiting an orphanage in Romania to remind oneself of the struggles many children must endure, if you feel so passionate about the welfare of children. For the casual tourist it can be the simple act of visiting the Auschwitz holocaust museum in Poland to remind oneself of the horrors and pointlessness of war.
Travel bloggers and writers have added significance and can influence opinions and shape the world of travel.
I look to Rick Steves as the classic example. Classic example of a travel writer. Non-classical in his socially conscious observations of the places he travels and his personal dedication to creating a better world he lives in.
The topics and destinations chosen are just as important as those unknowingly cast aside. It is the seasoned eyes of a traveler who views the cultures - through a well focused lens, which observes their differences, similarities, virtues and faults that gives added value. Value that many who travel take for granted. Value that many who travel while having an active voice and following in the travel and tourism industry take for granted.
It is the power within the travel and tourism industry, possessed by all and wielded by few, which can help bring forth real change. Many bloggers and travel writers actively promote their brand of beliefs. Many still don't realize nor care for the power they have.
Whether or not you consciously make decisions with your belief system in mind, you sit on one side of the fence on an issue based on your actions alone.
There are those bloggers and travel writers who chose this path and use their platform as a springboard to launch their vision forward.
Pitching In Or Putting Out
If trends hold in the travel industry as predicated by Justin Francis (one of countless) as well as current social trends in open source movements and communities everyone will have a say in shaping their communities. Assuming continued lower barriers of course.
Creating, action and commitment are natural for some. These individuals are driven, by one reason or another and need no prodding.
Take Colin Wright for example. He lives, eats and breathes his conscious path in life, and shits it out entrepreneurial daring.
Still others use their writing excellence in championing their cause. You'll find D from Dtravelsround speaking on responsible tourism among her many other informative work. Wandering Earl talks about his experiences in lands largely foreign to Western tourists, highlighting his kidnapping in Pakistan as well as his experiences in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Bret Love & Mary Gabbett of GreenGlobalTravel magazine - save the world, one story at a time. In their own words on the reasons for marrying their life passions with their professional careers - “passionate about Eco-tourism, and believe in its potential to help save the world’s precious nature and wildlife by encouraging sustainable practices that both benefit and respect local indigenous cultures.” Clearly individuals who took that one first great leap and continue to strive forward with great success.
Just a mere drop in the global blogging bucket, yet all of these individuals give us reasons to pause and reflect on models that work each in their own right. Each utilizing their greatest strengths to become a force for change in the world, perhaps without even a consideration for impacting a thing. Each in as little or grand as their ambitions and desires allow.
It's All About the Trip Man!
It's About the Trip Man
All will stumble and falter along the way. This adventure, is the greatest thing about creating something new. These times are exciting, I would choose no other to be living – save for perhaps Rome circa the Punic Wars. Maybe your image or brand will go through an identity crisis. Perhpas you will. You might find advertisers and associates less willing to take that initial first leap with you. So be it. Take the leap.
Plan wisely, decide resolutely and boldly act. If you are blazing a trail, make it an inferno.
The Proof is in the Peach
Now I think it would be in bad taste for me to make the assertion that Mr. Peach has done so much to sex up the image of the travel blogging world with TravelSexLife without backing up this claim with some cold hard...data.
Expecting something other than data? Your dirty little mind.
Alas. Here are the requisite pie charts. Note the curious golden ratio proportions.
And a real life example of a traveler who has been Will Peached.