A Review of Lead the Way by Mali Farmer, 16 years, of St John Paul College.
In mid-2021, 16-year-old Mali Farmer travelled down from St John Paul College on the Mid North Coast in NSW to join Voiceless for a week of work experience. An intelligent, kind and passionate young woman, Mali was an asset to our education and communications teams during her time, and was a shining example of the next generation of changemakers that give Voiceless hope for the future of animals.
Throughout the week, Mali read Jean Hinchliffe’s Lead the Way and has reviewed it here for the benefit our Voiceless community of animal advocates of all ages.
“What is your purpose? Who are you serving? What difference are you making? Which voices are you uplifting? Who makes up your team? Where are you falling apart?”
Lead the Way by Jean Hinchliffe, is a guide to making systemic change, published by Pantera Press in 2021. Jean Hinchliffe shares both her experiences with activism and her suggestions to young people on how to create positive change in the world. When I picked up this book, my attention was instantly sparked as I wished to learn more about how I can effectively contribute to the world of animal protection and become an advocate for animals.
Hinchcliffe’s Top Tips for Successful Activism:
Hinchcliffe begins her book with a strong message: to commit and say yes. She believes that saying ‘yes’ is key to promoting one’s lifestyle, meeting significant new people, and opening new doors of opportunity. When starting out in advocacy, Hinchliffe recommends getting involved in a variety of causes to find what interests you the most.
Pass the Microphone
Whilst being extremely passionate about your chosen topic/s, it’s important to remember that ‘giving the microphone’ to others, who may be impacted in different ways, is beneficial to see all sides of the issue. Hinchliffe explains:
To make sure you’re showing the whole picture, include a diverse range of ages, genders, abilities, ethnic backgrounds (in particular black and indigenous people of colour), economic classes, geographic backgrounds, and so on.
Collective Reflection – The Popcorn Technique
In part 2, chapter 24, Hinchliffe says;
a useful technique is to approach this as a ‘popcorn’ brainstorm: if someone has a reflection or thought, it’s immediately written down without question or critique. Then, when all ideas have been noted, they are all critically analysed.
Ask for Help
An important topic often overlooked in activism, is utilising people power and accepting help whenever needed. I was unaware of how important good relationships were to avoid tensions. Hinchliffe explains how often minor disagreements can escalate to points of major tension within groups who share the same goal for a better world.
Another great point made was to have an adult mentor. Not only will they provide different points of view, but they are able to sign contracts and book spaces that minors cannot, such as The Domain where the School Strike 4 Climate took place in 2019. This can give you a push for going above and beyond in activism. Just be sure your mentor knows your boundaries and what kinds of support or suggestions are not needed.
The most important lesson I learnt reading Lead the Way, was how to stay calm in a stressful situation. Tackling worldwide issues, such as climate change or animal law reforms, can be overwhelming at times and often makes advocates feel as though they are not able to make a difference.
Hinchliffe explains that this is normal and suggests:
- Stepping back and taking some time out to focus on yourself;
- Creating boundaries between work and life;
- Taking a break for as long as needed and to focus on other interests.
Jean Hinchliffe wrote Lead the Way with the intent of creating a humble guide for passionate youth pursuing activism. I highly recommend Lead the Way to any young person who cares strongly for social justice.
Disclaimer: Opinions expressed by guest authors and interviewees are those of the relevant contributors and may not necessarily represent the views of Voiceless. Read full terms and conditions here.