Connecting with Your Activist Neighbors
This page is not current. Many of our Neighborhood Groups, for a variety of reasons, are no longer meeting; some still are. If you are wanting to connect with activists in your neighborhood, contact us at email@example.com, and we will try to facilitate.
Northeast Seattle, Lake City, Pinehurst, Maple Leaf, etc.: TBA
Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Edmonds: TBA
Ballard, Crown Hill, Loyal Heights: TBA
Bitter Lake, Northgate, Licton Springs, etc: To be updated soon. We have a Facebook page "Communities Rising North Precinct" where we can share activism opportunities: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1820090444916918/
Capitol Hill, First Hill, CD, Belltown, S. Lake Union: TBA
Columbia City, Rainier Valley, Renton area: TBA
West Seattle, Burien, White Center: TBA
Phinney Ridge, Greenwood: TBA
Green Lake, Wallingford (Wallylake): TBA
Guide for Neighborhood Point Persons
Community Action Planning
As conveners in our communities, we want to bring people together, find out what their stories are, what motivates them, what issues they care most about, and what changes they want to see in their neighborhoods and beyond. Through our meetings we have the opportunity to model what we want our communities to look like – to show people that we are stronger together and that we respect, empower and include everyone. Keep that in mind as you issue invitations.
This page has two parts: First, Event Organizing 201--suggested guidelines for facilitating your second or third (or more) Neighborhood Group (NG) meetings; below that, you will find Event Organizing 101--this provides guidelines for facilitating your very first NG meeting.
Event Organizing 201
As facilitator of an NG, you want your group to meet efficiently and heartfully. This means respecting one another’s time and honoring one another’s presence. This is sometimes easier said than done. Based on input from several sources, here are some suggestions than will help:
Create an agenda and send it out ahead of time to those you expect to show up.
Try to sit in a circle if possible. Concentric circles if necessary. Quite apart from symmetry and symbolism, sitting in a circle makes it easier to see and hear one another.
Ask people to be mindful of time when speaking. We are here to listen and be heard.
Ask someone to scribe the meeting and take minutes. Ask for a timekeeper (and try to stay on schedule).
If your group is small (12 or less): Begin your meeting with a brief check-in; 30 sec., model it!
If your group is large (12+): Begin your meeting with “Share Pairs” (dyads). “Everyone pair up with a person you do not yet know.” Once paired, answer the question, “Why are you here tonight?” 2 minutes per person, no cross-talk, then 2 minutes of conversation.
Total time: 6 or 7 minutes.
Regather as one large group. Ask if there are any additions to the agenda. Try to place suggested additions within existing agenda items, if possible.
Good idea to start with a brief description of what you know of CR, so new people understand.
If large group, break into smaller groups of 10 or less, if possible. Try to have someone with some experience as a facilitator in each group. Authorize that person to facilitate, using your discretion. The smaller the groups, the more people get to be heard. Ideal size might be 6-8, if you can find that many people to facilitate.
Each group will discuss 3 questions: Examples might include: Why are you here tonight?” What issues get your attention the most? What action(s) have you done in the past? What action(s) do you think might be a good idea? What do you need, on a personal level, to help you become the activist you want to be? How will you know that one of your actions was right for you? There are other questions that can get the ball rolling. Right now, the key is for people to be heard—and to find others who share their feelings, their inclinations, their issues. Total time: 20-30 minutes, depending on size of groups.
Regather as one large group. Now you will collect the issues that rise to the surface. Ask for issues that need attention. There are many. Write them down on a white board, butcher paper, chalk board. After listing them, ask who wants to lead/coordinate a Working Group on each particular issue. Not all issues will necessarily have a lead. Once leads are up, have them stand and state their issue. Ask other participants to go to the lead that represents the issue they want to attend to. Each of these clusters will be a Working Group. At this time, the only task of this newly formed Working Group is to get accurate contact info to the Lead—and to perhaps discuss a tentative meeting time. Total time: 10 minutes, tops, depending on size of WG.
Each Working Group will develop its own way of doing things. The function of a WG is to: gather information, share information, set a goal, and make a plan to reach the goal. It’s best to work incrementally on each of these. Each member of a Working Group will want to have an action plan at the end of each meeting (e.g., I will contact_________ and get information on _________; or, I will send out an email with a list of 3 resources that I have read and vetted, outlining________; or, I will print up 40 flyers and post them on all of the bulletin boards in ___________.)
Leads of WG’s will report to NG leaders.
Leads of NG’s will report to me (Rick). I will see if WG’s are overlapping from one NG to the other and put you in touch with one another to share resources/ideas, possibly trainings, if appropriate.
This structure has been helpful to many groups, but it isn’t the only way to organize your NG. Please share with me what is working well. Please ask for help if you think you need it; we can offer facilitation help if that might be useful. We are figuring this out as we go along, and the best way we can do that is to move lightly, discarding ego, assumptions, and dogma. Which is sometimes easier said than done.
Please keep in mind our CR Principles:
Primacy of conversation
Advocacy for underrepresented groups
Culture of care
Thanks for all you are and all you do!
Event Organizing 101
Great organizers build coalitions by bringing people together. Organizers are able to connect people from different backgrounds, experiences and skill levels and put them to use effectively and strategically. By providing a safe place for people to meet, you can discuss recent events and their implications in your community. From there, you can determine the next steps you can take as a group. By taking the time to collectively plan and strategize, you and your team will be able to move forward with a deliberate and thought-out approach as we move into January 2017.
Your neighborhood meeting should have the following goals in mind:
Build a network of community members so you are ready to mobilize
Provide an outlet for people to channel their energy in a positive way
Identify the priority issues that need to be addressed in your community
Great organizers not only brainstorm creative and exciting ideas, but also invest a lot of time planning the different logistical aspects of their events and meetings. You will find a number of steps below to help you manage your event so you can achieve the above goals.
When will you host your event? We are asking people to hold their neighborhood meetings between now and February 1, 2017. Give yourself enough time to recruit, plan and determine the location (a home, a coffee shop, etc.). Be sure to check calendars so your proposed date doesn’t interfere with holidays or local events.
Think about how much time you’ll need for the meeting. It’s easier to commit to an hour and a half than two hours, but less than that may cut off discussion before people are ready. Remember that you’ll want to start and stop on time.
Who can help you plan? Organizers often work best in teams. Think about people who can help you organize your meeting and assign responsibilities accordingly. For example, someone might have time to bring snacks, so put that person in charge of snacks for the meeting. Someone else may have a network of friends they have worked with on other issues, so that person may be able to help with recruitment.
Recruitment is Essential!
Recruitment is one of your most important roles as a host. No meeting – no matter how well planned – can be successful without participants. At its core, organizing is fundamentally about building relationships. The larger and more cohesive a group of people is working together to make change, the more effective and powerful it will be. We want to be a model for what we want our communities to be, so what does that mean in your neighborhood?
The way to recruit effectively is not magic. There is a formula and there are key steps you must follow if you’re going to achieve your goals.
Recruiting someone to attend an event is not just getting a verbal commitment or putting a name on a form. It is a continuous process of ensuring commitment all the way through the day of the meeting.
---The first task is registration, or RSVP. Your RSVP should include the specific location, time and date of the meeting. Start with the people who signed up for your neighborhood group at the Communities Rising meeting on December 28. Then expand outward – ask each person to bring a neighbor and reach out to your neighbors who were not at the December 28 meeting.
---The second task is a confirmation. Every meeting will have a number of people that are unable to make it, but by taking these steps you can actively reduce absences.
After the initial RSVP, you should send out a confirmation email
Remind your guests of the upcoming meeting and tell them that you’re looking forward to seeing them. Be sure to remind them of the date, time and location of the event.
Give an overview of the agenda and ask them if they have any questions.
Include specific directions or suggest bringing a potluck snack if appropriate.
---The third task is a final reminder. The day or two before the event send a helpful reminder including key details such as date, time, location and what to expect at the event. This will help boost attendance.
The Day Of…
Be prepared before your first guest arrives!
- Set up your space early - whenever possible set up your seating in a circle
- If you have them, set up refreshments and snacks for your guests to help make them more comfortable and break the ice
- Ask people to sign in so you can have a record of attendance
- If the group is large it may be helpful to have name tags
- Prepare your discussion (some suggestions are below)
Here are a few questions to help you focus your conversation and start planning for 2017. Remember to always respect, empower and include everyone and to encourage all your attendees to participate in the conversation.
- What are the norms for your meeting? They should include that no one will speak while someone else is talking and that everyone will respond respectfully when ideas are presented. Are there other norms you wish to specify? It is helpful to articulate the norms at the beginning to help focus the conversation effectively.
You can begin with the questions we posed at the December 28 meeting--or the February 2 meeting....
- What are your concerns in this new political landscape?
- What needs to be done?
- What do you want to do (as individuals and as a group)?
After Your Meeting
Thank your attendees! They set aside time and made an effort to attend and they are now part of a wider community of concerned neighbors who want to make a difference.
Outline any steps that were agreed upon at your meeting. Make sure to include the specific responsibilities that each person agreed to take on and put them in writing as notes for a follow up email. It may be a good idea for someone to assume the role of backup facilitator--just in case something comes up for you before the next meeting.
Follow up with an email to your neighborhood group and include any people who were unable at attend. Give an overview of what you discussed and specify any follow up actions. Remind them of the Communities Rising! meeting on February 2 (or a meeting after that one).
Create a report for the monthly NGPP meeting. If you cannot attend, request that someone else from the group attend and be prepared to report on your neighborhood meeting.
Please stay in touch with us through the Communities Rising Facebook page to let us know that your meeting has been held and to share your successes and ask any questions that may come up.
Thank you for your good effort and energy!
*This text is edited and revised from a guide published by Organizing for Action