The Crossover Between Service and Activism

Activism and service are often seen as separate entities, but when combined, they have the potential to produce truly significant change for any cause. The environmental movement exemplifies this, most locally through NYU’s various eco-friendly clubs.

Sprout Up is primarily a service-oriented group that provides free education about the environment to elementary school children. Its development manager, LS sophomore Yashna Ginodia, believes Sprout Up’s actions are important because they help advocate the group’s cause to a younger generation.

“I feel like [education is] growing more and more important — in a world where it’s optional to believe in global warming — to have some sort of environmental education or awareness,” Ginodia said. “I don’t think people understand how important it is for the future generations to know. Everyone has this weird mentality that it’s not going to work out ‘til the next thousand years.”

Ginodia believes that Sprout Up lacks a significant presence as an activist organization because it is missing a strong public voice and forum space to explain its beliefs and actions. However, she said that it does actively support other activist causes, such as when it supported NYU Divest in its various protests. She believes that being involved in both the service and activist sides of a movement can make people more educated and adept at explaining why their cause matters.

“I feel like people involved with service are more likely to know what they’re talking about when they have activist movements because they have first-hand experience on how things work, which is why I feel like there’s such a close link between them,” Ginodia said. “I definitely think [the crossover is] a possibility, because you grow to care about things more the more you interact with them, and I also feel like it really helps with confidence — like [having] the courage to speak out.”

It is through this support that activist and service groups are able to come together to promote one cause. NYU’s umbrella organization for environmentally-friendly groups, Earth Matters, also supports actions by other organizations such as NYU Divest and the Office of Sustainability to promote green initiatives at NYU.

Activist groups like NYU Divest and the Animal Welfare Collective can promote working toward a more environmentally-conscious school by making their voices heard, explicitly stating their goals and provoking thought among the student body. On the other hand, service groups, such as Sprout Up, actively work with the community to spread their message of environmentalism. The collaboration and united front between service volunteers and social activists creates the potential for progress much bigger than either group could imagine alone. By collaborating and supporting one another, organizations that identify with either side of the spectrum can create a united front and spread their message in the most well-rounded way possible.

Email Natasha Roy at [email protected].