Image Credit: TakeAction
‘Students and Society’ is a new series exploring the ways in which the students of today are getting involved and giving back to communities both local and global. If you have a story you would like to share, get in touch with MUSE’s Features Editor at email@example.com.
It was only when I began to reflect on 2020, while listening to a David Mitchell podcast, that I pondered on how the pandemic has altered people’s ability to fulfil their ambitions. David Mitchell stated that the pandemic was “not being conducive to creativity”; instead, he was worried and looked for comfort in the news pages, despite his own acknowledgement that “the news media are not enumerated by comforting people; what they need is our continued alarm.” However, for a pair of students at the University, the pandemic has provided the chance to challenge this through the establishment of a non-profit magazine in direct opposition to mainstream media.
PPE students Alexandre von Hornstein and Vittorio Zappa wanted to be involved in a project outside of their studies, so in 2020 they founded TAKE ACTION. TAKE ACTION is a non-profit magazine that gives back to organisations and charities, supporting and implementing action through campaigns. The magazine features the writing of students and guest contributors such as Hamilton Fish, Director of The Washington Spectator.
The founders chose to pinpoint both the foundation and principles of the magazine in its name; Alexandre stated that “‘TAKE ACTION’ came to me when I noted a common gripe of politicians often talking about problems rather than fixing them. From that, the name TAKE ACTION was born, as that is the attitude and aim of the publication.” Revenue made will indeed be used to take action; so far, they have established relationships with organisations such as Serve the City, Rise Up For the Ocean and Amnesty International.
Not only do they hope to contribute to worthy causes, but also to support and enrich students' experience, at York and beyond. “We intend to have webinars, seminars and interviews with notable individuals and known change makers. We also are planning to expand our List for Actions and provide unique internship opportunities to truly make the TAKE ACTION site a hub.” With a podcast and merchandise to follow, the founders want to create change and discussion. As Vittorio stated, TAKE ACTION is “a magazine by everyone for everyone.” They aim to be a conduit for change, and a movement to make a difference.
In my discussion with TAKE ACTION, they expressed how their desire to support voices, act upon important matters, and create a hub for activity were paramount to the creation of the magazine. The focus of this magazine could not have been more engaged, given that this is an important time to be critically thinking and voicing concerns. As Alexandre explained, “[…] we are currently at crossroads. The election of Biden, the UK leaving the EU, the ever-looming threat of climate change and an ever-growing political divide in numerous nations, in many respects, we are far behind schedule in solving these issues. To paraphrase Gandhi, we must be the change we want to see in the world. And I believe that the power of youth is not to be underestimated. People such as Mahlik, Greta Thunberg and Marcus Rashford have demonstrated that it is possible for students and younger voices to make a massive impact on a world stage.”
After first considering the magazine in early 2020, TAKE ACTION was initiated in the summer term, fulfilling Alexandre and Vittorio’s longstanding ambition to initiate a project or movement. In building this magazine, they hope to provide a platform open to all students and external writers. Alexandre explained that “when Hamilton Fish confirmed his interest in writing an article for the publication, things snowballed for the better as more and more people joined the project. This strengthened my belief that TAKE ACTION can truly be a unique publication.”
The pandemic has had positive and negative effects; the establishing of this project has not been excluded from these. Vittorio explained that “it would have been easier to use the university environment to build stronger working bonds and inspire other students to join us. Yet at the same time the pandemic helped us to attain important contacts. In the midst of this pandemic, people spent the majority of their time on their electronic devices due to remote working. So, I think that without this pandemic we would not have had the attention of some international personalities.” Furthermore, the pandemic provided a raison d’etre, as Vittorio explained: “the fact that I was confined to my house, detached from the place I was meant to be – the University – created a greater will to do something.”
This initiative could not have been more relevant to the year of 2020. A year that started with the Australian wildfires, progressed to the outbreak of a pandemic and then the Black Lives Matter movement. It was a year that showed individuals having an impact on our society and environment, and whether political, social or environmental, this magazine hopes to address issues that demand a voice. The magazine wishes to give issues that are perhaps overshadowed in mainstream outlets, the recognition and exposure they deserve, working towards actions and resolutions. As individuals it can feel like we have no power or control – we may often question ‘what difference is it going to make if I become environmentally or politically conscious, aware of my privilege, when I am so insignificant?’ However, as individuals we have the power to change other’s perspectives for the better and uphold our values through using our voice. TAKE ACTION is an organisation that wants to listen to your individual voice, to share it, and act upon it.
When we are asked what we did in the pandemic, it is important that we recognise the positives. For many, I am sure it has been an eye opener; a year of reckoning. Whether you want to continue to educate yourself on global matters, support voices, or contribute to change, TAKE ACTION welcomes all students. They can be found on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as on their website. With future podcasts, seminars and webinars in the works, as well as the opportunity to write and share articles, the founders welcome students to help with the magazine as we head into 2021.