THE BLOG

Victory for New Era: Capping a People-Powered 2014

30/12/2014 15:49 GMT | Updated 01/03/2015 10:59 GMT

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On New Year's Eve 93 families on the New Era estate in Hoxton will be celebrating knowing their homes are safe. A new year they had not expected - plans to hike up rents to market rates would have put these families out on the street. They expected to be ramping up their campaign in January against US property company Westbrook Partners, prepared to do anything to keep their homes. Instead Westbrook quickly gave in - so how did a marginalised group of people manage to shift the power into their own hands and win?

When the campaign started out this year few would have believed that this day would come. But within months of resident Lindsay Garrett's petition going viral, this modern day fairytale has reached its happily ever after. Reminiscent of the miners strike and fight for equal pay by Ford factory workers in the sixties, this campaign has captured the country's imagination in telling the story of 93 David's vs a massive Goliath. But unlike the former campaigns, New Era won in a matter of weeks, because the web - and sites like Change.org - have taken the age-old art of story telling and campaigning and turbo charged it, making solidarity and mobilisation bigger, faster and more powerful than ever.

Clicktivism isn't just about signing a petition - that click is just where it starts. It turns into 300,000 signatures that are marched to Downing Street, and to a US property giant handing back a lucrative housing deal. It turns into David Cameron getting inundated and raising the issue of Ghoncheh Ghavami, the British woman who was imprisoned in Iran for watching a volleyball game, to the President of Iran. It turns into funding for a potentially life-saving cancer treatment for Jo's Aunt Alice. And into a 17 year old walking into the former Education Secretary Michael Gove's office and leaving with an agreement for him to write to all schools about FGM. What these individuals have achieved is what often politicians fail to do in an engaging way - highlight a crisis, give people an opportunity to do something about it and see tangible results.

Without the use of the internet and social media the New Era residents would have struggled to put pressure on a decision maker thousands of miles away. And without good old fashioned solidarity rallies, the campaign would have failed to capture the hearts of the public. That's how you win campaigns today - through smart and well executed online and offline tactics and by telling an incredible story. As we head into 2015, Change.org marks reaching over 80 million users globally, and six million in the UK. I can't wait to see the people power heroes the next 12 months will bring.