social change | November 07, 2012

Mobilize the World: Ben Rattray of Has Big Plans For The Future

When Ben Rattray was in college at Stanford he discovered a sobering fact: his generation wasn't apathetic or lazy. It was simply lacking access to an outlet that would allow them to make a difference. When Rattray—the founder of and a popular social change speaker—learned that his younger brother was gay, he realized that not speaking out against injustices was almost as bad as actively perpetuating them. “[My brother] told me about the pain he experienced as a closeted and confused young gay man," Rattray said in an interview with "But what hurt the most weren’t the people who were actively anti-gay, but the people who passively stood by and refused to stand up and speak out against them—people like me.”

In the interview, Rattray says that this conversation inspired him to stop being passive and find a way to speak out and enact positive changes in his community and the world at large. What he learned in doing so was that there were, "millions of people around the world [who] felt just like [him]." With that, he created in 2007. Five years later, the online petition platform now has over 20 million users in 196 countries. It has created an effective outlet for those who want to make a change in the world but are unsure about how to start or how to connect to the right people. Whether it's putting an end to school-yard bullying or standing up for animal rights, the site allows anyone to create a petition and mobilize like-minded individuals into action. Despite the positive strides that his organization has achieved so far, Rattray says this is no time to rest on his laurels and that there is still more to be done.

“Every single person, regardless of the country she’s born into or the amount of money in his bank account, should be empowered to make a difference,” says Rattray. His sights are set on revamping and improving the petition process, expanding its offices to more locations across the world and unveiling the new Petition 2.0 with live signature counts and updates on petition statuses. When he's not working with, Rattray is delivering motivational speeches that empower people to stand up for what they believe in. Named as one of Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2012, Rattray is paving the way for change using new technologies to connect people across the world like never before.

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