Amisha Ghadiali talks Dazed Digital through why we need to get involved with politics and vote in the General Election on 6 May
In a few weeks, millions of Brits go to the ballott boxes to decide who will run the country for the next five years. Or will they? Too many people have relaxed attitude towards politics, though they don't mind complaining about the state of the country down the pub. That's exactly what Amisha Ghadiali is trying to change. Through her Think Act Vote organistion, she's trying to....well, it's quite self evident from the name what's she's trying to accomplish....but, interestingly, there as clear angle towards the younger parts of the electorate in Ghadiali's campaign.
'Get invloved, we can change the future' seems to be the message at Think Act Vote. And nowhere else in the a distant future is that sentiment more true: On 6 May, when we vote, we all have a say. Not convinced? I'll leave you in the capable and persuasive hands of Amisha...
Dazed Digital: When did you start Think Act Vote?
Amisha Ghadiali: I started the campaign in mid February because of a frustration about the negative view of politics held by so many people in the UK today, and an ambition to do something about it – to create a community around our relationship with the political system and the choices we make for our future. An election was looming and unlike in previous years, I just wasn’t interested. I realised that if I felt that way, there would be loads of people out there with the same feeling.
DD: How did the idea come about?
Amisha Ghadiali: Like lots of ideas, it started in the pub – I recognised how despondent I was and decided to do something about it. I ran the idea past a few friends, then pretty quickly built the website and got going, with a bit of help from people, like Given London and Anti-Apathy along the way. Since then it has grown and grown – we’ve had over 7000 hits to the website, which makes me think it must be something that people want. Even though there now seems to be a lot more hype about the election than a couple of months ago, the way people talk about it is still generally negative, and it all comes down to personalities rather than about real change or progression.
DD: Currently, what's the main purpose of Think Act Vote?
Amisha Ghadiali: I want to turn the election on its head, and when you boil it down, an election is all about our future. So the point of this campaign is to focus on that - a positive view of the future!
DD: Tell us briefly about yourself?
Amisha Ghadiali: I am one of those people that doesn’t easily fit into a box. I am a jewellery designer with my own label, 'amisha.elegance.rebellion' and associate director of the Ethical Fashion Forum. But at heart, I am a creative activist; I want us to live in a more connected and optimistic world, but think it is important to have fun whilst we are working towards that.
DD: What does TAV do to get young people involved?
Amisha Ghadiali: It’s all about using creative energy. The aim of this part of the campaign is to create a book called “The Future I Choose” which will be available to buy, but we will also present to the Prime-Minister in June - whoever that may be. It gives people to opportunity to either be photographed for the book (it is a lifestyle photography book) or to take part by sharing their vision of the future by answering the question “What Future Do You Choose?” By doing this you get to think about the world that you want to live in and how you can change the way you can help to get us there. Plus it’s an opportunity to get your picture in a book – doesn’t that appeal a little bit to everyone?
DD: You also have your own range of t-shirts?
Amisha Ghadiali: Yes, at the beginning of the campaign, we ran a competition to design the perfect campaign t-shirt, which was a great opportunity for up and coming illustrators to showcase their work. The winning design by Jesson Yip was selected by a judging panel that included Katharine Hamnett and Daisy de Villeneuve. The symbols represent each word, with different fonts to represent different people’s voices. The design was then printed onto Earth Positive Eco T-shirts and then we got leading eco-designers to turn the t-shirts into show pieces using only scraps from their current collections.
DD: Politics - Does it really matter!?
Amisha Ghadiali: Yes, of course. Politics is really about making decisions to make our world, our country and where we live a better place. I think we forget this in amongst all the madness, but effectively that is what it is all about, and no matter what your personal agenda, doesn’t everyone want a better life and better opportunities for themselves and their family? Politics is the vehicle for this.
DD: When did your interest in politics begin?
Amisha Ghadiali: Ever since I was really little and it was all explained to me. I have always been really interested in the bigger picture and how to create change. I studied politics at uni and worked for both a congressman and a MP before I left that to work in ethical fashion and live out my creativity.
DD: You have a poetry comp going on at the moment. Tell us about it!
Amisha Ghadiali: As well as answering the question What Future Do You Choose in prose, I wanted to inject a creative element, by giving people the option to write a poem. The competition is open until the 29th April, and the winner will be featured in the Big Issue. The top five entries will also be in the book.
DD: You want people to think positively about the future, do you think people are too negative towards life?
Amisha Ghadiali: I think us Brits can’t help it. We aren’t programmed to be super positive about things all the time. When you take British politics, the media and the people massively focus on the negative, the expenses scandal is a good example of this – as a nation, we seem to revel in people’s failings. As we are seeing more debate between the party leaders, this too is focussed around criticising what the others are failing to do or can’t do. It’s the culture and mindset that we are in. But the habits that we allow ourselves to fall into and inherit are a choice - we can knock ourselves, and each other out of them.
DD: If so, why?
Amisha Ghadiali: They talk about the Greatest Generation, those who grew up in the Great Depression and went on to fight in World War II. What made this generation great was a clear idea of citizenship, of looking after the person next to you, and a self-belief that you can make a difference.
And yet, the threat climate change poses to us as a global community is bigger than Hitler. We need to be positive, dig deep, test ourselves and do something about it, together. I think it is about being a proactive member of society, being prepared to confront truths and getting ourselves as a community to care about things, not being led by hatred or fear.
Democracy by its very nature puts the power back in the hands of the individual. Great things happen when people extend themselves out of their comfort zones and discover new things. And although we can do great things to prove a point, or acting in reaction, I think that what you can achieve through inspiration and positivity is greater and happens on a personal level and a collective level.
DD: Are you a member of a political party?
Amisha Ghadiali: No, I haven’t found one that I want to champion enough to invest in it financially, and belong to.
DD: Ever felt like starting one, like Tamsin Omond and The Commons?
Amisha Ghadiali: No, not for now. I have already worked in parliament and feel like it isn’t yet a dynamic and open enough place but know it will be one day, then maybe. I don’t want to be part of the government, but instead, to inspire people to realise the positive impact we can have on the people and the world around us through our daily decisions and actions. I think I can probably make a bigger impact that way, at least for now. Tamsin has a great energy, and I hope that she gets in - we need more people like us over the next five years to create the change in attitudes and direction needed.
DD: If Politics was a fashion brand, which one would it be?
Amisha Ghadiali: Westminster politics...let’s not go there. It is important to see politics as something that is part of everything we do, that politics always defines us and is part of our lifestyle. I think it is all about personal identity and having your own style whether that is though Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, or whoever your favourite designers are.
DD: Which one should it be?
Amisha Ghadiali: Everyone should have their own brand, their own unique way of relating to and shaping the world.
DD: The question you pose to young people is 'what future do you choose?' - what about you, which one do wish for?
Amisha Ghadiali: I choose a future that is driven by love and respect not fear and greed. We’ll all be on the same side and working together in support of each other. We’ll be using our creative energy to solve the world’s problems and we’ll be having fun whilst we’re doing it. The future I choose is one where it is sexy and cool to care about the planet and its people.
DD: Are there any other Think Act Vote events in the run up to the General Election?
Amisha Ghadiali: We are doing open photoshoots in our t-shirts and dresses for the book, you just come in your own style, and have a portrait photograph taken by one of our photographers that brings out your personality. The photos will then be put on our website and many will be featured in the book. Then on May 5th, we are holding “Celebrating The Future I Choose” to spark people’s positivity about politics. The event will include live music, a catwalk show and an interactive video booth for people to have their voice heard on the future they choose.
To keep up to date with Think Act Vote – visit www.facebook.com/thinkactvote