Feature Article:
This week for Design By Activism.

︎ & Website: UKSCN
︎ : Daniela
︎ : Lily

6th May 2021

Interviews with
Lily Halladay and Daniela Torres Perez about their involvement in the world of activism. 

© Daniella Torres Perez

To become fully immersed in this month’s theme of Activism, we interviewed two individuals who take on the role of ‘Activist’ in both their day-to-day activities and wider ambitions in life.  We spoke to Lily Halladay, all-round volunteer and activist for the climate, and Daniela Torres Perez, co-founder of UKSCN, about their involvement in the world of activism.

During our interview, we learn the specific roles Lily and Dani inhabit as activists, how they began this journey and what they have learnt. In addition, we built an understanding of the components that make up activism and an effective protest. We believe understanding this role is an important way to set the scene before we begin to interrogate how design and creativity can campaign, protest or aid the cause of activists.

© Lily Halladay

Could you describe your role within activism generally? What have you been involved with and are there any groups you work with/for?

Lily: I started getting Involved in activism about two years ago doing a lot of work with Extinction Rebellion. I would say that my role in activism has really changed over the years - when I started out with Extinction Rebellion I was doing quite a lot of communications and social media work for them, trying to communicate their message through photography/videography. These days I wouldn’t affiliate myself with any specific organisation - I volunteer in mutual aid networks across Bristol and have been heavily involved in the recent ‘kill the bill’ protests. I’ve always been really passionate about direct action and hope to visit the HS2 camps this summer.

Dani: I guess I would describe my role within activism as a mix of “rebel” someone who actively opposes and protests social conditions, institutional policies and practices that violate core societal values and principles, and a “change agent” who works to educate, organise and involve the general public to actively oppose present policies and seek positive, constructive solutions. I co-founded UKSCN which is a student led organisation fighting against climate change but since then I’ve been involved with XR youth, Culture Declares which gave me the opportunity to be included in a book that shares “Letters to Earth”, the Black Lives Matter movement and the Kill the bill protests.

© Daniella Torres Perez

How did you get involved in activism?

Lily: I stumbled across an Extinction Rebellion protest on Waterloo bridge - after talking to some people there I started doing my own research and after finding more out about the climate crisis began to feel quite a bit of existential dread and climate anxiety - I found channelling these feelings into activism to be really helpful.

Dani: My first ever protest was an extinction rebellion protest back in 2018 against climate change, in which I realise there wasn’t enough youth involved or in charge, so we decided to created an organisation that was student led, for students by students.
© Lily Halladay

Could you outline the main elements that create a successful protest?

Lily: This is a really tricky question as the recent kill the bill protests have made me rethink what I view as a successful protest. When protesting under Extinction Rebellion’s name in the past it was easy to know how to act and how to analyse a protest after - we acted peacefully and it was successful if we created disruption and gained media attention. These days I think we have to move away from the idea that we protest to garner a positive media response. I don’t think a successful protest is always one that gets positive or neutral media coverage (usually they only do if they’re not very disruptive!) or media coverage at all. The recent kill the bill protests have been interesting as there were many groups of people and organisations all protesting under the demand of ‘kill the bill’ - this has led me to understand how damaging it is when you try and tell people how to protest. Everyone has their own intentions for coming to the protest, their own boundaries with police interaction and the possibility of arrest. Overall I do think it’s important that there is a clear aim, some level of organisation and as much done as possible to make the protest accessible for everyone to get involved (making it as intersectional as possible).

Dani: Communication is key, for a protest to be powerful, you must communicate clearly about why you are protesting and what changes you desire. Including digital means of protest participation is also very important to bring awareness to the movement and further connect people to the movement. I think it’s very important to not just listen to everyone’s concern on the issues we are protesting, but also use such platforms to amplify the voices of the marginalized and the disenfranchised.

Aside from attending a protest or rally, what are the other elements to activism? For example, online or campaigns.

Lily: There’s so many parts! Communications and social media, infographics, leaflets, talks, workshops, outreach, direction action planning, media and messaging, frontline activism (like living on the HS2 camps), well-being... I could go on!

Dani: Social media plays a huge role in activism specially since the pandemic, many of us had to stop protesting on the streets and swapped it for online interactions such as zoom calls to connect with all of those who would usually be out protesting and campaigns such as collectively taking to Twitter and tweeting at organisations to change their policies/ bring awareness in how they contribute towards carbon emissions.

© Lily Halladay

Could you describe one thing you’ve learnt during your experience of activism?

Lily: I’ve learnt that it’s important to give yourself breaks and to take care of your well-being. I have become overwhelmed and burnt out more times than I can say because I wasn’t taking care of my well-being and giving myself time off. Even if you live and breathe activism or work as a full time activist it’s important to find hobbies, activities and creative outlets that don’t revolve around activism.

Dani: That unity is key and that as long as we stand together anything is possible!


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All credits to our talented illustrator Molly Pattinson. Follow her here.