Beirut Madinati has been all over the streets and the social media news feeds. They are, “a volunteer-led campaign to elect a municipal council of qualified, politically unaffiliated individuals in the upcoming contest of May 2016, and, once in office, to support them in implementing a people-centered program that prioritizes livability in our storied city.”
I hear about them on the radio inside taxis, in arguments as I walk the streets of Hamra and Mar Mkheil, and in the daily conversations of my friends and acquaintances.
Sounds good, right? Well…before I can vote or even write this article, I needed to deal with my own personal concerns in regards to the city and the country’s political landscape and I needed to research the heck out of the candidates and the campaign.
First, I’ve shared my concerns below because I think many of the youth voters (who will then hopefully talk to the non-social-media generation) share these same (valid) concerns and should address them.
Second, I’ve provided campaign information and research – because nobody should vote or spread the word without first looking at the information at hand.
1. We’ve had hope again and again, what makes this different? Or, another way of putting this would be “we can’t change anything ever in this flipping country.”
There is so much anger everywhere. The people of Lebanon are angry. I’m angry. My Teta is angry. The anger is almost inherited; like it’s been planted in my heart and its roots have taken hold so tightly that when a glimmer of hope arises, I can barely see it. Barely, but it’s there and this time, I must fight for it. If you decide to give in to this hope and vote for Beirut Madinati and they don’t win, or worse, they do win and the same old thing happens in Beirut, what do you have to lose? If you do nothing, the same outcome will happen anyway. I’m going to vote because I want my Teta to be able to walk again in the streets of Beirut without being scared she might fall on uneven sidewalks, or get hit by a car because there is no sidewalk to speak of. I want my friends to be able to save money at the end of the month because the rent prices aren’t obscene or the cost of living isn’t the most expensive in the entire region. Concern #1, check. I’m going to the voting booth. I’ve got nothing to lose, I’ve only got stuff to gain.
2. You’re not registered in Beirut, but you live here or for God’s sake, you love it. Ok, volunteer, who has time!? I couldn’t even make it to the volunteer meetings that they set up, because I have meetings of my own that I cannot miss (see cost of living, above). And what would I do anyway, I’m just a writer…
I know how it is. Most people work really hard and then waste a big part of their day in traffic and then, there’s family, friends, and hell, you might just want to stare at the ceiling to calm down from all the stress. To top it all off, if you’re like me and many people I know, we’re creatives, what could we possibly do? So, I’ve made a list of stuff we can all do that doesn’t take (much) time AND lends itself to the creative brain!
- Write a blog article or Facebook note – even if your blog isn’t that widely read or is kinda personal, go for it! It’ll be something to share.
- Graphic Designers: put the Beirut Madinati logo on your friends’ profile photos or design a quick poster/social media post and encourage people to share it and print it to give to their non-social media family members, neighbors, taxi drivers, whatever!
- Email. Ok, this one might take awhile, but write it like a chain letter and pass it on and on. DO NOT FORGET the Lebanese diaspora. They’re big in numbers. If you need an email template to use, just email me and I’ll send you one! firstname.lastname@example.org
- Social media – you don’t have to be famous to post on Instagram, tweet or Facebook… but honestly, there’s been a lot of that going around, it can’t hurt but, we need to get to the streets!
- Talk. No really, talk about it. Like Barney on How I Met Your Mother, just choose a stranger and say something like, “have you heard about Beirut Madinati?” Do this at least once per day.
Strengthen your argument through knowledge.
Some helpful links and research:
- Website with Beirut Madinati’s full Program and vision for Beirut. You can download it as a pdf in both Arabic and English.
- Facebook , Twitter, Instagram, Youtube
- Call or whatsapp, Rayan Ismail, BM Coordinator +961 3 677 795 with questions about volunteering or the voting process (I had questions myself because I’ve never voted in this country!)
- Register with Beirut Madinati right here, right now, so they can help guide you
- Fill out the volunteer doc if you have time or if you don’t (there’s an option for that too)
- Donate (use this in your emails as well for outsiders)
Change is upon us. It’s our duty as Lebanese, as creatives, as humans, to (at least try to) do something to elevate our collective human condition.