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At Vidcon 2015, we sat down with Hank Green, Laci Green, and Kristina Horner to talk about the power of the internet to create change.

THIS WEEK'S CALL TO ACTION: When do you feel most empowered to make change in your community?

Engage by Uplift tackles the difficult issues surrounding sexual abuse that the YouTube and online communities face. We're starting real talk for real change.

Each week, our host Kat Lazo discusses abuse and how it manifests in virtual spaces. Watch and collaborate with us through weekly calls to action, and join in with some of your favorite YouTubers as they consider the issues in round table discussions.

Hank Green:
Laci Green:
Kristina Horner:

Hosted by Kat Lazo:

Directed by Kelly Kend:

Discussion questions by Sahitya Raja:

Real talk for Real Change. #EngageUplift
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Follow Uplift- Online Communities Against Sexual Violence:
KAT LAZO: Hi everyone.

I'm Kat Lazo, also known as TheeKatsMeoww, and welcome to another episode of Engage by Uplift. I'm here with Hank Green,


KAT: Laci Green,


KAT: and Kristina Horner.


KAT: Okay. We're going to be tackling how the internet has the power to create change. Why do you think the internet has allowed for grassroots activism?

LACI: I think it's like an equalizing force; a lot of people can have their voices heard. In traditional media, there's a lot of different barriers to having an audience, and online, anyone can go post about their experiences. And I think that makes it much easier for people to practice their empathy skills, and learn about the experiences of people that they -- the backgrounds that they can't necessarily relate to.

HANK: I think you also find yourself being a part of other, sort of smaller cultures on the internet. And actually feeling like you can change that culture. So it's not necessarily that you can change the whole culture of America, but maybe you can change the way that 30 or 50 people feel about something. And that's how change actually happens.

KAT: Do you all have any ideas of how we can harness this energy to combat sexual violence?

KRISTINA: Continuing to talk about it. You know, there's such a wave of trends on the internet. Something big will happen in the news, or in our communities, and it'll be big news for a day or a week, and then it kind of drops off again, and we can't let it be like that. Because it's not solved.

LACI: I think it's important to be giving the influencers resources so that they can be better online, better spokespeople about this stuff. They can be better educated, given the right language. So, equipping each other; not just equipping the audience, but equipping each other to be better advocates in our communities, so we can keep that rolling along in an effective way.

KAT: What are some good examples of online activism

LACI: On my channel we worked on an LGBT conversion therapy petition that went up to the White House and is now being passed at the state level to ban gay conversion therapy. And that was pretty amazing, to just watch it explode before my eyes: Like how fast the petition was getting signatures, how fast the community was catalyzing, and then to see real substantive change happen... I think that, for me -- I already knew the internet was a powerful tool, but that just hit it home that much more for me, because that's the exact type of -- the legislation change feels so far away.

HANK: There's also, I think -- if we look at the way that we can now identify more easily when maybe someone who is in the mainstream or someone who has some celebrity is doing something wrong, that is clearly against our morals, it's a lot easier to spread that story, to have people come out and tell the world that this is happening instead of them trying to ask a news outlet to cover the story, and be like, "this person -- this famous person abused me."

KRISTINA: I'm not just saying this because Hank is in this episode with me, but seriously, the Project for Awesome was kind of my first foray into knowing about charities really. And so I actually had to go out and do research and find out, "Oh, there's plenty of things that I can do as a nineteen year old girl," I've loved that, because it really encourages people to do that research and be a spokesperson for something that they care about. And it makes it so easy for people, in a way that, at that young age, I didn't even know that I could do.

KAT: How can fans and creators work together to actually create social change?

HANK: It's kind of about not shying away from hard topics. Like, a lot of times I think, you know -- and this is fine -- creators see the thing they do as entertainment, and it's entertaining, and if something is wrong with the world, that's not their responsibility. They're just trying to make people laugh, trying to make people think, maybe; but they're not trying to take on the world. But I just can't. I can't feel that way. I will advocate for science all day long, and then six p.m. rolls around and I'm on Tumblr and I'm pissed off about police brutality. And that's like -- that is a kind of baring of your soul, to say: "I want to talk about this." It's terrifying and you never know when you're all the way right. And it's hard.

KRISTINA: To piggyback off of that a little bit, I think a lot of people are scared to talk about it. I know I went through a phase when I was really feeling like I was on my journey, I was on my social issues journey. Where I'm absorbing, and I'm learning. And I kind of felt like I wasn't qualified to talk about it yet, because I was still learning. And I reached a point where there was no wall, there was no door I was going to walk through that's like, "okay, now I'm an expert. Now I can talk about it." And I realized that if I wasn't willing to talk about it, if I was too afraid to talk about any of these issues, how does anyone else feel like they can

LACI: I feel pretty passionately about the issue of approach to these issues. Because sometimes I feel like things are not handled very well online People are -- they're upset, they're outraged, they're mad, they're angry. All these totally valid feelings, but we have to harness it in a positive way, because otherwise people close the door. Like, that's very real; they just click out and never come back. So it needs to be a safe space, and we have to be patient. And for me, when I'm approaching my work, kindness is always central to my politics. That's one of my mottos in life, I try to be kind in everything I do because I think that's the best approach that gets people in the door -- even if I'm really pissed off, and I want to be angry and throw things.

KRISTINA: When I first started learning about feminism, right away I was like, "Well now I know all these things, and, "how do people not know these things?" and I would get so angry at people for not knowing these things, and then I realized: they're just not there yet. They just haven't learned those particular things, and I can try to help them or not get angry and let them get there. I feel like you get to the angry stage, and then you get to the next stage, where you're like, "Okay, everybody's in a different place." That was helpful.

KAT: You all have really done an amazing job at handling these really difficult topics, so thank you so much for lending your voice. Thank you so much for watching.

Don't forget to answer our call to action using the hashtag #EngageUplift on social media, or in the comments down below. And while you're at it, why not subscribe? Thanks again. I'm Kat Lazo of TheeKatsMeoww. Til next time.