Delivering a giant plastic bottle to the government. Pollution masks being placed on public statues. Scores of people occupying a giant polar bear outside Shell’s head office. These are ordinary people doing extraordinary things to protect our planet. With courage and a desire to make change happen, it can be any one of us.
Non-violent direct action uses peaceful protest to demand social and political change, and people have used direct action throughout history. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks as part of the civil rights movement in the USA and the Indian independence movement led by Mohandas Gandhi are just a few examples.
Greenpeace was founded on these peaceful principles when, in 1971, volunteers set sail to stop nuclear weapons testing. It’s still a vital part of our work, and is centred on two principles: a commitment to peaceful protest and taking personal responsibility. It’s only possible because people have made a choice to place themselves in the way of those who would destroy our natural world.
What does taking direct action involve?
Taking action means being part of a team in which everyone is committed to creating a green and peaceful world. It can also be thrilling and seeing how your actions can have an impact is extremely fulfilling.
Greenpeace provides training and anyone who takes part must complete a session on the core principles of peaceful protest. Many different roles need to be filled and, based on your skills and experience, you could be asked to do any number of things. You might not be climbing or hanging a banner, but every role is just as important. We also make every effort to make direct actions as accessible and inclusive as possible.
But it’s a big decision and a serious personal commitment to volunteer in this way. Every direct action carries the risk of arrest (although sometimes the risk is greater than others) which can have long-term personal consequences. Legal information and support is always available, and it’s the personal decision of everyone on the team to take part.
Being part of such a team also comes with responsibilities. Direct actions often take place in challenging or unusual places and safety is paramount, so those who take part must be clear-headed and reliable.
How to apply
Anyone over 18 can apply although unfortunately we can’t accept everyone for training. In most cases, direct actions happen on weekdays so we’ll prioritise people who can be available then.
You’ll also need to be committed to the principles of non-violence and have a basic understanding of Greenpeace and our work. If you’re new to Greenpeace, joining your local volunteer group is a great way to learn more about what we do and talk to others about their experiences of direct actions. It’s a big decision so getting as much information as possible is the best way of finding out if it’s right for you.
So if you want to take that extra step in defence of our planet, fill in the application form below.
Of course, direct action isn’t for everyone but there are plenty of other ways you can volunteer with Greenpeace.