Eleven ways to join the resistance from your desk

If you’re feeling bewildered, you’re not alone. So, once you’ve been thoroughly nauseated on Twitter and are keen to actually do something about this shit-show, here are a few non-profit projects that I wholeheartedly believe in, and whose people I’d trust with my life and my money. Volunteer, give money, say nice things – it all helps.

Majal runs several critically important web platforms for activists, migrants, musicians, and LGBT people, especially in the Middle East. Each of their projects has different needs, but you won’t do better than giving money straight to Majal. Kickass human: Esra’a El Shafei.

CASH Music – no one works harder for musicians and what they do for society than these guys. And no one quite believes what CASH does: they make and give away free software and services to musicians, only because it’s the right thing to do. It’s so unusually altruistic that many funders actually don’t like giving them money. But we can, because we’re not assholes. Kickass human: Jesse von Doom.

The Debt Collective. If you’re in the US, these amazing people are among very few directly challenging predatory lending – and winning. For the rest of us elsewhere, let’s learn from them and apply their strategies in our own countries. Predatory lending, especially student debt, is a plague that won’t go away on its own. Kickass human: Astra Taylor.

Africa Check, and any good fact-checking organisation right now, are doing what journalism used to do by default. And they’re only the seeds of what we’re going to need in the coming years. Every cent you give them literally buys truth and buries lies. Kickass human: Peter Cunliffe-Jones.

Safecast. Simply put: get a portable Geiger counter from these guys and help grow the world’s biggest, public-domain database of radiation data. They’re also trialling devices for measuring air quality. This is just the beginning: what really matters is that Safecast proves that we don’t need governments or big organisations to quality-control earth. We can just do it our big-brained-primate selves. Kickass human: Sean Bonner.

Fight for the Future. If we’ve learned anything this last year, it’s that the Internet is a battleground for hearts and minds. FFTF have already saved your Internet bacon more than once and you probably don’t even know it. There is a lot to learn from them about Internet activism when you take your own stand, big or small. Kickass human: Tiffiniy Cheng.

ContentMine. If you’re not in academia, you might not know there’s a pitched battle going on for ownership of new scientific knowledge. No kidding, there are actually big companies that own and control the science we pay for with our taxes. WTF. ContentMine have a plan to counter that. Apart from donating to their work, if you have technical skills you can use their open tech to make scientific facts public. Kickass human: Peter Murray-Rust.

The Open Knowledge Foundation. The first task of dictators is to hide information from the public. It’s OKFN’s job to stop that from happening. OKFN have a network of groups around the world, which do things like make government information easy for people to find and understand. Joining one might be the closest you’ll come to joining a rebel assault on the Scarif databank. Except it’s legal and you won’t get killed.

Bettercare (I’m a co-founder and board member) publishes open-access learning material for nurses and midwives in badly resourced clinics and hospitals. This stuff helps save lives every day, especially the lives of women and children. Every incoming cent helps to create new material and keep existing material up-to-date and openly available. If you have a medical background, you can also help by using and reviewing the material. Talk to me for details.

Book Dash (I’m a co-founder and board member) gathers volunteer designers, writers and illustrators to create free, high-quality children’s books that anyone can download, translate, print or distribute. Developers can contribute to the open-source Book Dash apps, or help improve the Book Dash website. Talk to me for details.

MyConstitution.co.za (I’m the founder and project maintainer) is a community project to put the South African constitution, in all official languages, in the public domain –here in South Africa, you would not believe how hard it is for citizens to read their own constitution. The project needs managers, the tech needs developers, and the content needs legal experts and experienced translators. Talk to me for details.

All of these projects are close to my heart, and have structures in place for volunteer contributions or donations. I’ve kept the list short so you’d read it, but I’d also vouch for any others funded by the Shuttleworth Foundation, and a bunch I’ll kick myself for forgetting here.

Do the right thing. Sleep better. Wake up stronger.

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