Organizers' Network Working Groups

Last updated 20030101 by jow
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Getting the Work Done

Jim Whitlock

We are each members of a growing group of regional activists and we each represent or work with local activist groups with shared interests in peace and human rights.  All such activist groups are overloaded with demands for time and resources and most have first-level priorities other than peace activism per se.  While we are all clearly drawn towards the concept of collaborating for greater effectiveness when we have shared interests, a number of issues stand in the way and our peace activism efforts have suffered accordingly.  Simply put, we all like the concept of collaborative support for common-interest efforts but have little to invest.

At our last group meeting, we seemed to have a general consensus that creating informal ad-hoc working groups tasked with articulating and proposing solutions to specific issues and problems might be an effective way to proceed.  The only people likely to volunteer for such working groups will be those most interested in the specific tasks -- possibly those who are already engaged in solo efforts to accomplish the same thing.  Such ad-hoc working groups could proceed independently and could bring conclusions and recommendations back to the larger group for consideration and/or implementation.  Our face-to-face larger group meetings could then be less frequent and perhaps less occupied with time consuming discussions that smaller numbers of people may be able to handle just as effectively is a small group context.

What follows is my own exhaustive list of tasks that I think working groups can and should address.  Some, like deciding how to handle promotion of IAC/ANSWER's buses to Washington DC for the 1/18  demonstrations, need to be resolved immediately by all of us.  Others, like customer research and developing a collaborative program for regional schools, can proceed on an as-time-permits basis with those most interested in actually doing the work.  While the list may appear long, I believe we are all engaged in the bulk of the work anyway; we're simply doing it without benefit of other interested collaborators and with far lower time investments than we might make if we had helpful reflective colleagues.  The list is intended only as a discussion starter; no doubt, I've overlooked important high-priority items and some that I personally believe to be important will find no resonance with any of you.

  • "Who We Are" Definition:  However averse we all  may be to formalities and if for no other reason than public relations, we need to articulate a simple crisp definition of who we are and what we're attempting to accomplish.  My own version is posted is posted on our "About" page and is extracted from the slightly broader but similar definition I posted for the Buffalo Peace People site.

  • Calendar Coordination and Strategic Planning:  This should be self-evident but includes everything from possibly developing strategic plan outlines for 6-12 month periods to avoiding conflicts on events or actions now in early discussion stages. 

  • Collaborative Event Planning:  These would be ad-hoc planning groups for events that we decide in advance to work on as a group with as much collaboration, coordination, and sharing of PR as possible.  The recent Peace Rally in Lafayette Square is an excellent example and might serve as a model we build upon.

  • Flyer, Poster and Banner Design:  We've talked about shared promotion, publishing lists of regional events, publishing calendars, optimizing/coordinating the banners we each use at events and numerous related details.

  • Web Site Design & Maintenance:  To the extent that shared Web spaces become popular, this group could advise on site design and would undertake to keep things like calendar pages current.

  • Speaker and Entertainment Contacts:  Each of us and each of our respective organizations has private lists of contacts that we ransack for speakers and entertainment at events.  I'm not sure quite how but I believe we should be able to find ways to share those contacts without compromising ourselves, the people involved, or out respective organizations.

  • Mailing, Email and Physical Distributions:  As with speaker and entertainment contacts, so too with distribution lists each of our organizations uses to promote events.  We're all reluctant to consider sharing the raw data but I believe we can define agreements, procedures and methods for more effectively reaching our collective constituencies when we're promoting events of common interest.

  • Regional School Program Planning:  I believe we have some good opportunities for educational program development to be offered to all regional public and private secondary schools.  Colleges and universities too for that matter.  The opportunities do not on surface lend themselves, however, to group-by-group exploitation.  They're most likely to yield to a collaborative effort on all of our organizations parts.

  • Fund Raising and Grant Proposals:  Granting agencies absolutely adore proposals based on collaboration between groups that do not normally work together; we are not the only ones to recognize the efficacies of collaborative efforts.  I believe there are several good opportunities for us to seek seed and supportive funding for some of the activities and efforts we've been discussing. 

  • Customer Research:  By this, I mean simply that we don't seem to have a very effective grasp of what the customer (public) wants right now.  Apparently, some 50%-70% of our prospects are opposed to immediate war with Iraq but pitifully few actually show up for rallies or sign petitions.  What are we missing?  Let's try to find out.  See also the Customer Research item on our Brainstorming page.

  • Public Relations, Outreach and Recruiting:  Periodic meetings and releases to news editorial boards, regular letters to editors, tabulation of all the known email lists, and many other ideas have been proposed to make our PR and outreach more effective.

  • Shared Media Library:  We all look for videos and films at various times for various purposes.  Our collective local holding of such material  is probably huge but how would we know if we don't catalogue it?  I'll happily share whatever I have.  I assume others would too.

  • Rally Operations Planning and Support A number of us enjoyed fussing with and working out the logistic support and assisting with management of the recent Peace Rally.  It's clear that experience, practice, procedures, collected shared contacts, and a ready-to-roll collection of equipment could be a major asset for regional groups engaged in or collaborating on peace activism events.  The existing group intends to continue to work together informally with those objectives in mind.  Modest private funding has been identified and grants seem possible.  Logistic support items including first-aid kits, generator sets, sound equipment, radios for event staff coordination, and the like are now being reviewed and collected.  

  • IT Strategic Planning and Support:  I continue to be struck by how poorly we seem to use readily available technology that out opposition makes routine use of to effectively advance their own causes.  Somehow we should be able to do better than we now are and there should be an ample supply of empathetic techies (50% to 70% of them, to be precise) who should be willing to help us out a bit.  Let;s find a few and see what we can do.

Please post any concerns or comments either direct to, direct to any of our contacts, or to our group at:  Blunt comments are the only worthy kind.  


Not In My Name
James O'Connor Whitlock
Bitsy's Dad
Buffalo, New York

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
Margaret Mead

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