Info-Activist: Aleksandra Gurinova


Aleksandra Gurinova (26), found the info-activism camp very enlightening and relevant to her work supporting both people living with HIV/Aids and drug-users, in their struggle for access to appropriate treatment. She particularly enjoyed the international nature of the camp because she says that info-activism has evolved much more in other countries than it has in Russia.


When Aleksandra attended the camp, she was working as the advocacy coordinator for the Russian Harm Reduction Network. This organisation promotes a harm-reduction strategy to combat HIV infection and other repercussions related to drug use, and strengthen public health and the civil rights of drug users. Her interest in info-activism, and her motivation to attend the camp, was sparked by her experiences using simple visualisation techniques in workshops on harm reduction, HIV\AIDS and LGBT issues and discrimination.


Aleksandra was able to explore info-activism further at the camp. A first step for her was familiarising herself with more digital tools. At the time, she was used to the “IT guy” handling all online content at her organisation but, she says, “After the camp I realise that this is very interesting work to do. I mean to spend more time on the internet and to be able to make some new and more creative things by yourself. And that this can be very effective for your advocacy objectives.”


Inspired by the outreach saw others doing in different regions, she subsequently initiated a mailing list for her organisation and a website for activists campaigning for the use of methadone as a drug substitute for heroin addicts. She has now moved to Berlin and is working remotely for the Andrew Rylkov Foundation based in Russia, which promotes drug policies based on humanitarianism, tolerance, health protection, dignity and human rights. In this new role, she has been sharing her info-activism knowledge too, and has encouraged her colleagues to use the wide range of digital tools available for advocates. She says “we are able to exchange information very quickly, and take up on new information. This organisation is very active. There are people who are online all the time. They are constantly publishing news. We use info-activism tools all the time.” They have recently experimented with creating a short advocacy video about methadone and Aleksandra that what she learned in the video sessions at the camp has been most useful.


Now that she lives in Germany, Aleksandra has been able to connect with our campers living there like Andrea, from Newthinking Communications, Malte, from DeepaMehta, and Tobias from Third Way Internet Community. She met up with all of them for the 10 Tactics screeenings in Berlin in January 2010. She is also, via Facebook, sharing information and ideas with the info-activist network created by the camp – especially those also working in the field of HIV/Aids. She is also, she assures us, doing as much as she can to inform and convince other people about the benefits of using new technology for advocacy.


Image: Aleksandra's own.