Community organising

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Door knocking guide

In community politics, door knocking plays an essential role. From just getting to know your neighbours better, to carrying out a local survey or trying to sign people up to a local campaign or petition talking to people at home is a valuable exercise, due to its face-to-face nature, However, it can be a daunting task, so we put together a set of tips to help you on your way, with pre-planning and then how to act on people’s doorsteps.

Before you go

  • Never go out on a rainy day, people are put off if you look like a drowned rat or are covered with a hood, hat or umbrella
  • Similarly, avoid going out if you are ill.
  • Dress smartly; not necessarily suited but ironed and clean. Don't look like a burglar or bailiff - people are less likely to answer the door to someone wandering up their drive with a big hood or black hat and scarf...
  • It's best to start organising with your closer neighbours, so you have a basic trust already.
  • The best time to go knocking is during daylight hours. It is best not to go around dinner time. Yes people will be home, but they won’t be happy to talk. Similarly, don't go just after work, people need at least half an hour to relax before doing anything like talking to strangers.
  • It's always good to have a clip board in you hand - even if you don't really need it, take one with some leaflets on.
  • The resident’s first point of eye contact is either your face or the clipboard so always make sure that your group or campaign’s header is present and clearly visible on the board.
  • Depending what sort of thing you're doing it could be useful to have two sets of leaflets, one for people who are out or answer the door and tell you they've got no time and a separate one for people who are more interested.
  • If you have enough time it is worth calling back to houses that didn’t answer the first time. Just make sure that you keep an accurate record of which houses you spoke to people in or else you'll end up calling on the same person several times and they'll get pissed off.....
  • Bring a sheet to note down the contact details of particularly interested people.
  • Some people have put a card through the doors of the areas to be visited announcing the time they'll be along - if people don't want to talk they can just put the card in the window to indicate they're not interested. While time-consuming this can be worthwhile.
  • If you're leafleting for a 'controversial' issue (e.g. anti-fascist) then start at the top of a tower block, otherwise you may have to walk down past hostile people who might have been alerted by your leaflets.

At the door

  • Say the most important thing first. Avoid apologising for bothering them in the first sentence – people prefer you get to the point of why you're calling.
  • The person opening the door won't want to hear too much complicated stuff in the first minute or so leave aside complicated explanations in favour of making a good first impression
  • If you seem confident and relaxed, so will they - if you're nervous and tense then they will also tend to react defensively.
  • Use inclusive gestures, open stance - never cross arms while you speak, or stand like you are about to leave for example.
  • Don't be intimidating, and don't approach the door in a big group. Knocking in pairs is usually the best format, for not overwhelming people, for your security and also so you have some company and can get feedback from each other on how it went.
  • Remember to smile; don't go if you're in a bad mood. People always pick up on it.
  • Look people in the eye, use a strong handshake – it makes you seem more trustworthy.
  • Always be honest about what you know and don't know - don't flannel to sound more informed.
  • Know your script, and answers to frequently asked questions, so you don't fumble your words when asked.
  • It sounds silly, but your knocking style is important. If you sound too official, people may not come to the door.
  • Behave from the moment you touch the gate - people often hear it and will check you through the curtains. Close the gate behind you, and don't walk on the grass. Close the gate behind you when you leave as well.

Finally...

You shouldn't be nervous about knocking on people’s doors. Most people are very nice even if they're not interested in what you have to say. It helps if you have a leaflet to give people because then you can refer to it, point out the date and venue of a meeting etc. Also if what you're trying to organise is local and for the good of the community then you have an immediate advantage over most people who are door-knocking for other reasons. Once you've knocked on a few doors and got some feedback it's plain sailing usually, although don't be disappointed if all the people who seemed enthusiastic don't actually turn up to a meeting or event. Last of all, enjoy it! It's a great buzz when you get into it, and a great way to get to know people in your community. libcom.org With tips from the users of libcom.org/forums and the Festival of Dissent, 2005

Get Up and Get Going: How to Form a Group

Becoming radicalized in a small town by yourself, seemingly in the “middle of nowhere,” can often be one of the most difficult experiences you may ever encounter. But even harder than the feeling of being adrift can be the desperation of not knowing how to go about attempting to make the leap from being just an individual with a set of ideas to someone that is part of a movement and specifically, a group of people who are organized in a set area, acting in concert, with that movement. While this column will be written in a way that assumes that the reader is located in a place without other anarchist, anti-authoritarian, or autonomist groups, hopefully it will also have some good advice for anyone that is looking to start a project or group of any sort, regardless of what the overall terrain looks like around you. In today’s age, where the internet has taken up more and more of what social movements and struggles are based around, the need to have a presence on the streets and in our neighborhoods, is now greater than ever. Before Getting Started Before you begin to form a group (in this context, group is going to refer to everything from an organization, a project, a crew, to any sort of collective attempt at doing something), it’s good to keep a few things in mind, and also to look around your general region for different examples of ways to organize, how to intervene, and things that other groups are doing, building, and working on. First, it’s always good to go back and read and study the history of your region. Who were the original people that lived on the land that you now live on? How did they respond and fight back against colonization? Are their descendants still in the local area? What is the history of past movements, from labor to civil rights to the fight against the war in Vietnam? Are there examples of riots, strikes, and occupations that shaped your town? How have people historically responded to the police, to pollution, environmental racism, and ecological destruction? The results of a few internet searches, calls to local union halls, and trips to the library, may surprise you. Second, it’s probably worth it to check out the groups that are in your town and also general region. If there’s a university and junior college, see what is happening on campus. Are there groups of people putting on film showings and discussions in town? Are there hold overs from past movements still meeting that before you didn’t know about. This goes for reactionary and far-Right forces as well; as their presence will of course impact your ability to organize. Looking into what is happening in towns around you may also be worth your while. For instance, finding a group of people in a town 45 minutes away might not lead you to find a group of people you might organize with, but it might give you an idea of what people in a somewhat similar context are doing in their own location. The point in doing all of this background research is to see if there are other people out there that like you – are looking for something else. Third, it's good to have an understanding of your local context and what the primary tensions and contradictions are within daily life of the general area that you inhabit. This can change, neighborhood to neighborhood, but in general you need to know who holds wealth and power in your area and what their interests are, and how they are attempting to shape and control the area around them. You also need to map out how this is causing tensions to arise; and how people, if at all, are responding. This can mean everything from gentrification and police sweeps of the homeless to the closing of schools and manufacturing plants to pipeline projects and simply generational abject poverty. Reading the local news daily, while understanding its real limits, will also help in this regard. Chances are, you already know that your town has a history of being polluted by the XYZ plant, that the opioid crisis has ravaged the region, or that the biggest issue is lack of affordable housing, etc. The reason that you need to think strategically about these realities is that by doing so this can and will inform how you may be able to respond to them. A big mistake that some people new to organizing make is that they simply try and jump into what group they most closely associate with; often networks and organizations that are already established across the US. This means that folks often with no experience suddenly set up IWW chapters when they have no history of actual labor organizing, and often times, just sit around in meetings until after 6 months to a year, the project folds. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t start an IWW, Redneck Revolt, Earth First!, or Anarchist Black Cross group, but only to point out that as you find people and begin to get organized, the work you end up doing may be completely different than the original project that you had in mind. Also, there’s nothing stopping you from later on incorporating aspects of these other groups into your organizing: from letter writing nights, to labor organizing, to learning how to use firearms properly. Final point, the biggest pot hole that many new people get stuck into is that of social media. In short, setting up an account won’t magically make a real life group appear. And while running a Facebook page for “XYZ Town of Anarchists” might be a great way to meet some people, if all you do is share memes and links about things happening elsewhere, as opposed to going out and starting projects and organizing, then what’s the point? If you set up accounts, use them to boost that you are doing and to hopefully find new people, but don’t mistake a page for actually being organized. Building a Crew If we are operating from the idea that you are essentially alone in the project of building a group of people you can being to organize with and take action along side of, then you’re going to have to work at finding like minded folks – and trust us, they are out there. For instance, for every mail order IGD ships out to a Portland or Brooklyn, we ship probably twice as much to towns and cities we’ve never heard of. So rest assured, people are out there, and generally they are just as isolated, alienated, and looking to connect with other people as you are. So then, you’ll need to think of ways of creating opportunities for you and potential comrades to meet. In general, here are some ideas: *Organize A Low Key Event: One of the easiest things to pull off in order to ‘test the waters’ of your local area, is to organize an event to see if curious and like minded people show up. One of the simplest events you can organize is to host a film screening, for instance of an episode of Trouble from the folks at Sub.Media. As they have films that cover a wide variety of topics, you should be able to find one that fits your personal context. If you’re looking for a place to hold a screening in order to avoid bad weather, generally places like public libraries are cheap to rent out and easy to set up. If weather permits, you might want to do it outside in a public park, just make sure to figure out a screen, sound, and power before hand. Also, make sure that you put a lot into actually promoting the event. Make flyers and do a social media campaign. Make sure you get the word out in all the different working class neighborhoods in your general area. Put up flyers at schools, corner stores, health food stores, smoke shops, at the library, barbershops, tattoo parlors, coffee shops, etc. You may also want to use this opportunity to set up a social media account to promote your event, such as “AUTONOMY [Name Of Town]” etc. *Table With Literature: Tabling is a time tested way to meet other folks face to face. What you’ll need is a table and also literature. Check out our store for a few packs of zines and stickers you can get and hit up groups like CrimethInc. to see what they offer. Look around at different online distros for more stuff to print out and get creative. Choose places to table with high foot traffic such as flea markets, college campuses, music events and shows, farmer’s markets, busy Downtown areas, and beyond. Then there’s also places such as the DMV or the Food Stamps office where large amounts of people are stuck at all day, often looking for something to read. Carry around en email sign up sheet with you and add people as you go to a mailing list. *Host a Skillshare: If hosting a film screening or tabling with literature isn’t your idea of a good way to meet potential comrades, you might also consider hosting something less overtly political and more based around sharing a skill, such as learning herbal remedies and learning how to grow your own food. Events like this appeal to a wide variety of people and often are very popular. *Create A Publication/Broad Sheet/Poster Campaign: If you’re looking to do something different that may take a while to build, you may want to go the publishing route. Creating a local magazine or broadsheet that presents an anarchist analysis and critique of the local news is one idea. Check out War on Misery from St. Louis to get inspired. You could also do simply a one off broad sheet, (11″ by 17″ double sided print) or even just put up posters that include a contact email. By setting up a network of free boxes you can increase your distribution range, while also dropping off copies at places like the library or at liquor stores. *Start a Reading Group: Reading groups offer a way to bring together people both interested in radical ideas with people already well versed in them in a low key environment that lets people get to know each other and build relationships. The idea behind them is fairly simple: to read as a group a text and then discuss it. People may also find it easier to read a text out loud as a group as opposed to reading it at home and then discussing it the week after, but the choice is yours. With these set of ideas, we think you should be off to a good start. Keep experimenting and applying these suggestions to your own local context. Don’t be afraid to try something new as well. Organizing, Intervention, Mutual Aid, Infrastructure, and Base Building So you’ve read about your town and general area’s history. You understand the terrain around you and have also mapped out the key contradictions. You’re up on “local politics” and have your ear to the ground. You’ve also branched out, organized a few events, and against all odds managed to meet a few people that want to do something with you. The next question is: so now what? How you answer that question will depend on the kind of group that you want to build. What follows are some general concepts to help you think about what direction you could go in. *Base Building: All good organizers should be engaging in some form of base building – the idea behind it is that you are putting work into the building of relationships with people, neighborhoods, and communities that you want to have a greater connection to. This could mean choosing to table at the local flea or farmer’s market every week, organizing an antifascist patrol of a set area against fascist activity, to simply spending a lot of time in a neighborhood making connections with people who live there. *Mutual Aid: Many groups engage in a wide variety of mutual aid projects, from providing community meals like Food Not Bombs, to organizing events like Really (Really) Free Markets, to free brake light clinics, to free grocery programs and free stores. Mutual aid projects can often be an easy thing to engage in within your wider community, as they are a “positive” activity and generally will win you support and respect of those around you. They also are very labor intensive and very quickly you will discover who is actually down to put in work, and who isn’t. At their heart, mutual aid programs can address real needs and problems directly while also creating a project that is easily accessible for new comers. *Organizing: Organizing of course is a broad term, but essentially we are referring to initiatives in which people build up a material force which can collectively engage in class combat; to assert working class interests in the face of capital and State authority. Examples of this include tenants unions and associations, fighting pipeline and fossil fuel infrastructure, workplace organizing, and solidarity networks. *Intervention: To speak of intervention means the process in which we insert ourselves in wider tensions already happening all around us. This means analyzing and understanding our local context, and then thinking strategically about how one could intervene within it to deeper one’s own position. This could mean everything from poster and banner campaigns in the wake of sweeps against the homeless that seek to gentrify a Downtown corridor, to mobilizing free groceries for striking workers to offer in solidarity. *Infrastructure: Lastly, there is the question of how to sustain this activity? The answer lies largely in the creation of autonomous infrastructure. This could mean the building up of land projects and cooperative housing, to the purchasing of copy machines and printing presses; essentially everything that we need to deepen ourselves as a material force. What Happens Next? You’ve come a long way. From someone with big ideas to part of a fighting community. The question now is – what’s next? What’s next is that you make connections and relationships with more people in your general region and begin the process of networking and federating together, becoming stronger as a regional force. Until next time.

Herramientas para construir el poder del inquilinxs: Las Tacticas Vol # 1

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ATU Tactics Zine v1 Online Espanol.pdf1.81 MB
ATU Tactics Zine v1 Print Espanol.pdf1.8 MB

Key ideas for community organising

Firstly, remember: If you are going to do community organising, do it in your own area! Don't be a missionary! Research and preparation Look around your local area and determine what issues it faces. Talk to your neighbours, what issues do they think are important regarding the area. Determine what kinds of projects you can develop or direct action you can take that meet the area's needs or address the community's issues. Find out if others are already working on the problems in their area and if they've been effective and what you can learn from them. Determine what kinds of resources you have available and who in your area might be useful allies in accomplishing your goals. Volunteering or starting your own group If there is a group doing work in your area and they are effective, it would be a good idea to volunteer with them to gain experience. If there is no group doing work on the issues you are concerned about or existing groups are not effective, start your own group but try to remain on friendly terms with existing groups. Planning Set a goal. Devise objectives (or strategies) to achieve the goal. Devise actions to achieve the objectives. Community-building projects Plan everything you do in your area with an effort to bring people in the community together and get them involved. Make a special effort to get people in the area who are not politically conscious to work on projects and become active. In short, gear your work towards not just helping the community but towards actually strengthening a sense of community. Fight prejudice as you organise Make a special effort to ensure that your organisation and its projects reflect the racial, ethnic and gender diversity in the community and make sexual equality and anti-racism explicit parts of your organisation's politics and policies. Get attention Be visible in your area, make every effort to let people nearby know you exist. Seek press attention when you do an action, gain a victory, or establish a project.

Tools for Building Tenant Power: Tactics Vol #1

By necessity, ATU’s work often centers around talking to tenants about their “rights” as given to them by the legal system. In our organizing, these rights are referred to as the shield. A shield can protect you, but it cannot win a fight for you. Your rights often can only protect you if you have access to a lawyer, and can fail you on a judge’s whim. You need something more — you need the sword. We offer this zine in hopes that the tools within will help folks to go on the offensive and fight back against their landlords. Because even when the law and the courts ultimately work to serve the landlord class, the power of tenants united will prevail. Contents call-in campaign…..…..4 delegation…………….. 6 flyering…………………8 press conference….……10 postcards………………12 banner drop…………..13 alderpeople……………14
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ATU Tactics Zine v1 Print English.pdf1.61 MB
ATU Tactics Zine v1 Online English.pdf1.61 MB