...making a road by walking...

Resources and Organising skills

Economic and Social Liberation (contents)
Resources and Organising skills
Creative Politics
Growing Vegetables
Global Warming
The NSW Student Environment Activist Network (SEAN)
Refugees in Australia
Militarism and Social Justice
Poetry & Music
Books to Read
One rainy day, we shut down the World Economic Forum.

Some great resources on social movements

I encourage you to start downloading!!! so many of these resources are sooo useful in learning about grassroots change.


:an interview I did with John Croft, an expert fundraiser from WA, on 13/06/06.

Resources from the Nonviolence Training Project: This list of resources includes The Movement Action Plan. This is a framework on the "Eight Stages of Successful Social Movements". It also establishes 4 categories of activist, Rebel, Citizen, Reformer and Change Agent. (My teacher Lyn Carson thinks there should be a fifth category, 'expert'...) Also, some important Nonviolence writers- eg Gene Sharp, George Lakey have papers that are worth downloading.

Resources from United Students Against Sweatshops: a page of amazing documents giving advice and lessons from perhaps the most successful student movement in the US in the last decade.

The Change Agency: an organisation for training activists based in Brisbane, Australia.

Strategic Questioning, by Fran Peavey- this I see as a 'social technology' to help us engage with eachother, and to start a process of dialogue THAT LEADS TO ACTION!!! (download pdf here.)

Campus Activism resources: this is a GREAT US site- that will probably inspire you- there is a massive list of resources here.

Training For Change tools section- here are some excellent group exercises. Also their meeting facilitation guide is useful, and there is a new paper on dillemma demonstrations, which is really interesting.

The UHC Collective- this group has some great resources on consensus decisionmaking and also a good article called "Anti Mass Methods of Organising".

Overcoming our passive social conditioning

Throughout your life as an organiser, you will have to deal with a cross section of society- people who are at various stages of paralysis.

Society as a whole is paralysed- especially people who have not yet gained confidence in the 'do-ing process': to DO is to learn and to gain confidence. To do is to replenish one's confidence in the possibility of winning- just like how a car battery is replenished through the car's movement.

But how do we get the starter motor going?

In conventional jobs, that motivation comes from an external authority, like a boss, combined with the incentive of money. Many people do repetitive and boring work just through knowing that somebody follows what they do and makes a judgement on whether the 'doing' was successful or unsuccessful. A person knows he/she fits into a specific place. She may even feel important/gain self esteem by knowing that she have completed a day of such a job.

In social change work, we have neither of these forces... our authority is our peer group and ourselves (depending on the power relationship) and the motivating force is the hope that we are changing 'things'. (which under bad circumstances can degenerate into an unhealthy guilt)

But where is the follow up, and where is the follow through?

My friend's mum resigned from an activist job in frustration recently, exasperated at the 'lack of follow through'. People would commit to tasks and then neglect them. She sadly viewed this as an inevitable problem of volunteer labour.

Perhaps those people didn't feel democratic ownership over the tasks- or the goal setting, contextualising the project in a bigger picture vision of their actions' significance. Perhaps they didn't get into a regular pattern that could enhance their self esteem. Perhaps they wanted to be 'spoon-fed' or followed up.

When you are an organiser, you will find this paralysis problem disheartening. It is especially difficult to deal with in your self.

People like us are too often so close' and yet so far; we care about an issue more than anything in the world, yet do not have the confidence to imagine winning. we would sacrifice anything (including our sanity) to win, but we are too confused and unmotivated to take the little steps needed to get there. These people get burnt out easily, because they do not have a sense of their own progress and power.

So my advice comes from a bit of blood, tears and a little sweat.

-A great art in delegation/ empowerment is to make it easy for people who are beginning. Offer to work side by side with them (eg in preparing a presentation together, or handing out flyers together). Break a process up into easy steps. Unfortunately, many organisers internalise the process of DO-ING in their minds so it seems mysterious and difficult to other people.

-Spiral- (from John Croft) Before a group takes on a project, go around the circle and each person says what would need to happen in the project for it to be worth their while dedicating a lot of their lives to the project. For example "It would have to have specific goals and a clear way of achieving those goals", or "It would have to have lots of parties" (You will hence discover the different purposes, values and different standards of expectation/ rules that people have in order to choose to spend their time working with a group.) Keep going around the circle until everything is exhausted. Have a scribe take down notes.

-After doing this, Map the steps out, in the four stages of 'Imagining, planning, acting, celebrating' so we know how to get from 'Here' to 'There'. Draw it on butchers paper. Each step has to be linked with the step(s) before. Each person needs to visualise how they fit into the journey to There. Write their phone-number in their step. Put the map up on the wall and colour in the steps as you start and complete them. Decide when the follow -up will happen for each step. E.g. a person could be delegated to be the 'motivator' and ring each 'do-er' 3 days before their step is due....

Text to come:::::

A movement is a living organism

Jason's ideas about an open hand

We cannot rely too heavily on NGO's:

According to Arundhati Roy, changes should not be centred around the initiative of NGO's. Her speech on this 'Help that Hinders', from 16 August 2004, is featured in an article in Le Monde.

Centre for Popular Education, UTS


Commoner article on the Black Bloc

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