Organizers' Network Working Groups
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Home: [Organizers' Network]
Getting the Work Done
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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 whitlock@BuffaloPeacePeople.org,
direct to any of our contacts,
or to our group at: organizers@BuffaloPeacePeople.org.
Blunt comments are the only worthy kind.
Not In My Name
James O'Connor Whitlock
Buffalo, New York