THE BLOG
11/02/2015 12:22 GMT | Updated 13/04/2015 06:59 BST

'People Have to Be the Detonator That Makes Politics Change'

Drag yourself out of bed on a freezing cold winter morning to watch a politician give a talk? You must be mad. On a Sunday? You're one of those party faithful - right?

But on Sunday morning when Denmark's former minister of culture Uffe Elbæk asked a nightclub packed with almost 1000 people here in London, who in the room is a member of a political party? Only a few hands floated upwards. 'Who's seen Borgen?' the numbers doubled.

In a pub in December, a few friends and I had got talking. The choice between badly-eaten bacon sandwiches and austerity-flavoured cold soup is simply miserable. And it seemed that we weren't the only ones thinking that - apathy is an epidemic that is sweeping our country.

Statistics suggest just 12% of young people plan to vote in 2015. Many have been inspired by Russell Brand's call to forgo the ballot box. And 44% of the general public feel the whole democratic process in the UK is breaking down. Democratic dysfunction, it seems, has left an entire generation feeling fairly impotent.

As one of our other speakers in Europe's oldest alternative nightclub said, the land rights champion and director of the Oakland Institute Anuradha Mittal, 'people haven't gone through a lobotomy to make them want to spend their whole time shopping'. So why is that it's so much more tempting to head for H&M, or just slouch back down on the sofa and flick on a DVD box set?

Our theory in the pub, cooked up by six of us under the age of 30, was that we'd been sold a lie. We'd been carved into simplistic left and right blocs. We'd been told there was no option but to suck up some suffering that we never brought about. And we are living in a world in which we're told we can't have a say in how we organise ourselves as humanity unless we're willing to relentlessly crunch numbers, obfuscate and protect whatever tiny piece of the pie we might have by mindlessly toeing the line. Politics, in a word, looks dead.

But isn't it true - we wondered - that we make the world we live in? Because across Europe another sort of energy has been bubbling up. And in fact, sometimes hidden in the shadows of our media's stone throwing headlines, there are dozens of imaginative, constructive, people powered projects and visionary individuals.

So less than 100 days out from the next Government taking power, in this the Magna Carta's 800th anniversary year, that little group of us switched the fields of Runnymede for a nightclub in Islington and worked to bring together 100 action heroes from across Britain and Europe under the banner Change:HOW?

Why? To stake a claim for a more hopeful politics. Because politics is not dead, it's just been polluted. We teamed up with the progressive outfit Compass, because the future isn't an 'either/or' sort of a challenge but demands thinking 'and' - the grassroots and Westminster, men and women, young and old. And above all, worked all of our nights and weekends to encourage our generation to have an opinion, whatever it is, and to voice it. To wrestle back a bit of our lives from the boring old farts in suits.

In Spain there is Podemos, "a movement of ordinary people doing extraordinary things" said Sirio Canos, a leading light of the London circle. Spiros Rapanakis came to join us from Syriza, saying "democracy is coming back to Greece again, after so many years", telling us how there was a pro-government demonstration by thousands. Pro-government. Let that sink in. And people came from our own backyard, from innovative political projects like Flatpack Democracy and MyStroud MP, from technology-driven innovators like eco-investment fund Abundance or sex-worker protection app Ugly Mug. Everyday reformers like the British Family or the community owners who rescued Lythe Village Shop. And imaginative activist-artists like Heydon Prowse of the BBC's The Revolution Will Be Televised, Bob and Roberta Smith with his Art Party, and Stella Duffy with her Fun Palaces project. One hundred living, breathing examples of the fact that we can make the world we live in.

Change:How? was never a mere rallying call to just go and vote. Voting is not the be all and end all. But democracy doesn't just happen once every five years with a bit of paper and a little box. If there's any one unifying message springing from Change:HOW? so far - from the Labour politicians, to the Greens and SNP, from Syriza to the Pirate Party, from the direct action activists occupying power stations to the man who organised pillow fights in Trafalgar Square, it's exercise your democratic right to have an opinion, to voice it, act on it and fight for it. Every day. As Patrick Henderson, founder of the Trussell Trust (speaking on Skype from New Zealand) said: "people have to be the detonator that makes politics change."

Every speech at Change:HOW? was filmed for release online, published each day from today until the 2015 UK General Election. Find, watch and share the stories by visiting www.change-how.com