'Protest' can be defined as essentially the practice of free-speech. An individual or group expresses itself freely and purely about a given environmental issue. Although self-interest may be a motivating factor, the exterior altruistically-perceived environment is, at least initially, the major focus.
'Partnership' refers to a working consensus agreed upon by opponents and proponents. Ostensibly, a compromise has been reached as to how best to proceede toward conflict resolution. However, the partnering process can be skewed by power imbalances. For instance, a threat of a law-suit by a multinational corporation against a small citizens' group can very quickly give rise to a 'partnership'.
In my experience, protest is the much more vital and important activity. It arises usually spontaneously from the grassroots around a clearly-defined, galvanizing issue (ie. your drinking water is contaminated with radioactive waste), and is often instigated and led by a single individual. Degrees of protest cover the entire spectrum of human behaviour - from passive to violent. It is, of course, up to each activist to decide what kind of protest best suits his or her cause.
As a protest continues, it may attract other like-minded people. The protest grows, matures, and may prepare the way for a true and beneficial partnership with the 'powers that be'. In fact, most environmental groups go through a predicatable evolution: from small, idealistic, to larger and more cooperative enties.
Both protest and partnership are part of the modern environmental game. Be wary, however, of partnerships which arise too quickly...before any protest has occurred!
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