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Thu Feb 2, 2012, 05:57 PM

Your Opinion, Please

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“Warriors are not what you think of as warriors. The warrior is not someone who fights, because no one has the right to take the life of another. The warrior, for us, is one who sacrifices himself for the good of others.

“His task is to take care of the elderly, the defenselss, those who cannot provide for themselves, and above all, the children, the future of humanity.”
Totank Yotank (Sitting Bull); Hunkpapa Lakota

In the past two months, I have written a half-dozen or more papers for the grass roots groups I have been working with in New York and Pennsylvania. These are pro-environment, and anti-hydrofracking organizations.

While the pro-hydrofracking politicians refer to us as “tree-huggers,” and the internal gas corporation documents I've read call us “insurgents,” I tend to view us as human beings. We are university professors and high school students; doctors and lawyers; farmers and factory workers; young and old; and military veterans and other patriots.

One of the things I've noticed in the past year or so, is that many people who are becoming politically active today, do not have the past foundation of experience that some of us old-timers have. Thus, for example, I found that many intelligent people were hestitant to write a letter-to-the-editor, or had questions about the best way to approach a politician.

I made a few suggestions. There are two basic formats that increase the likelihood of a LTTE being published. If a letter to an elected representative includes a request for a personal response, to be used in LTTEs, a politician (or their staff) will usually send something more than a form letter. People can hold small “house parties” to compose letters to the press and politician. And on and on.

We are also having the experience of having more questionable individuals attempting to join our groups. This happens. A high-profile group will attrack an assortment of individuals. Some may be shy, or lack self-confidence. Some may have the types of personality disorders that disrupt group processes.And some may be from the dark side. How do you spot them? How do you deal with them? Again, some of us have experiences from the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and beyond.

How can relatively small groups best coordinate efforts with similar groups? What tensions are normal between such small groups, and some of the larger, more established environment advocacy organizations?

Other issues ranging from voter registration drives, civil disobedience, and other community organizing and political activism, also deserve close attention. These same general issues, by no coincidence, confront those grass roots groups that are engaged in other parts of the struggle for social justice. Indeed, these other groups can potentially be united to create an alliance that is essential for us to achieve in the Good Fight.

A few people have suggested that I write a small “grass roots community organizing” handbook. This might be distributed among other pro-environment, anti-hydrofracking organizations, and potentially other similar groups.

Hence, my question to you: What types of things do you think are important to include in such a book?

Thank you for your consideration.

Peace,
H2O Man

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Arrow 27 replies Author Time Post
Reply Your Opinion, Please (Original post)
H2O Man Feb 2012 OP
Ohio Joe Feb 2012 #1
sabrina 1 Feb 2012 #2
eridani Feb 2012 #7
sabrina 1 Feb 2012 #10
H2O Man Feb 2012 #24
rhett o rick Feb 2012 #3
madrchsod Feb 2012 #4
mmonk Feb 2012 #9
OneGrassRoot Feb 2012 #13
H2O Man Feb 2012 #5
T S Justly Feb 2012 #6
mmonk Feb 2012 #8
MichaelMcGuire Feb 2012 #11
H2O Man Feb 2012 #12
MichaelMcGuire Feb 2012 #16
mmonk Feb 2012 #19
lunatica Feb 2012 #20
OneGrassRoot Feb 2012 #14
cbrer Feb 2012 #15
ellisonz Feb 2012 #17
fascisthunter Feb 2012 #18
Honeycombe8 Feb 2012 #21
rufus dog Feb 2012 #22
H2O Man Feb 2012 #25
rufus dog Feb 2012 #26
H2O Man Feb 2012 #27
flvegan Feb 2012 #23

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Feb 2, 2012, 06:07 PM

1. hmmm, lets see...

Make yourself heard - I see far to many poo-poo letter writing and/or calling their reps because either they don't think one voice means anything or because their rep is a repug. Bullshit I say, do it. The more voices in favor of something will be heard.

Keep Politics out of the office - At happy hour, go for it and make your opinions heard but never start or get sucked into a political topic at work.

Get Involved - There are boat loads of great causes that would love to get your help even if you can only spare a few hours a week. Do it.

Vote - Nuff said.

Don't get discouraged - The world is a fucked up place and there is no way you are going to fix it all. Where you live may very well be a fucked up place and you may feel you can't even fix that but... If people don't get off their asses and start none of it will ever get done.

ehhh... Thats what I can think of off the top of my head Good luck with the book though, keep us updated on it!

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Feb 2, 2012, 06:08 PM

2. Well, first I think you should write 'grass roots community organizing' handbook as you

have had so much experience with this, and most of us have not. One of the main tensions that has arisen in some of the groups around the country, is how to manage the people who are attracted to their groups without excluding them.

Some may have the types of personality disorders that disrupt group processes.And some may be from the dark side. How do you spot them? How do you deal with them?


Some groups have found ways to deal with these issues, what seems to have worked to some extent, was assigning people with some experience with, addiction and other mental health issues, to find public services that are available and to use them whenever possible. Now they have lists of services and people who are willing to work with them and although this doesn't resolve the issue entirely, it seems to have helped to an extent.

As for infiltrators, I do not know how that can be dealt with. Sometimes they have been obvious, but I'm sure there are lots of times where they are not.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #2)

Fri Feb 3, 2012, 06:39 AM

7. An old hand once told me that the solution to infiltrators was to design strategies--

--that would work even if your targets knew all about it in advance. He made the analogy of a good pitcher on top of the game--doesn't matter if the batter knows what the pitch is going to be--he won't be able to hit it anyway.

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Response to eridani (Reply #7)

Fri Feb 3, 2012, 03:29 PM

10. I like that strategy. You have to always assume there are infiltrators in any group that is a

threat to big Corps and I guess all strategy should be developed with that in mind.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #10)

Sat Feb 4, 2012, 12:17 PM

24. What I have suggested

to the anti-hydrofracking groups, based upon previous experience, is using a variation of MLK's "ten commandments" for participants in Birmingham. To become a member of the movement, people take a pledge. In order to disrupt, a person has to violate that pledge -- except if they are simply "reporting" to their true group on what we are doing. I never have anything to hide, and always try to communicate with the opposition, reducing such reports to meaningless.

If a person violates their pledge, by ways including attempts to triangulate, etc, they get a firm warning. If their behavior continues, they must leave. Simple as that.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Feb 2, 2012, 06:12 PM

3. Good idea but I think there is probably some thing already out there

 

that might cover that. Or at least you could get ideas and republish.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Feb 2, 2012, 07:59 PM

4. facebook

as an old timer i`m a big facebook fan. wisconsin`s movement was fueled by facebook and twitter. i have at least 5 active facebook pages from wisconsin and that`s not counting the union facebook pages. i administrate a facebook page for my wife`s afscme people`s committee. this gives us a forum to promote our unions principals and political education.
i remember when i had to drive a 100 miles to talk politics and buy counter culture/political publications.today it`s all at my finger tips. that`s my 2cts...

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Response to madrchsod (Reply #4)

Fri Feb 3, 2012, 09:16 AM

9. Agreed. Useful tool.

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Response to madrchsod (Reply #4)

Fri Feb 3, 2012, 05:09 PM

13. Yes, online social networking is a powerful tool! n/t

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Feb 2, 2012, 09:45 PM

5. kick

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Feb 3, 2012, 01:35 AM

6. K&R

 

I emailed Son Perdue on the eve of Troy Davis' execution. The execution was stayed that
time. Signed it your friend. I wasn't.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Feb 3, 2012, 08:37 AM

8. A manual would be great.

I'll email you if I come up with ideas but am struggling with things currently.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Feb 3, 2012, 04:45 PM

11. Podcast? (nt)

 

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Response to MichaelMcGuire (Reply #11)

Fri Feb 3, 2012, 05:07 PM

12. While I lack

virtually all technical skills, I have been working with a local film-maker. I've thought about seeing if he was interested in working with me, to make a film version.

I'm not sure what a "podcast" is -- as soon as I see one of my children, I'll find out -- but I do think that there are avenues for spreading knowledge today, that people in earlier times would have died for. As my interest is in spreading knowledge, not making a buck, there may be several beneficial ways to approach this.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #12)

Fri Feb 3, 2012, 09:55 PM

16. How To Create A Podcast

 

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #12)

Fri Feb 3, 2012, 10:27 PM

19. Sibel Edmonds uses podcasts quite frequently and has people that regularly access them.

I can send you her email address and maybe she can help you in that regard if that is an avenue you seek.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #12)

Fri Feb 3, 2012, 10:44 PM

20. Good luck on this and keep us posted on the ways to influence our times

I feel I'm falling far behind the latest modes of communication. yet I want to know everything that's happening.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Feb 3, 2012, 05:11 PM

14. I also can't think of specifics. However...

any wisdom you can think of to share will be valuable. I would LOVE such a resource.

And it could be an ongoing resource, as it's difficult to think of everything to include in a pamphlet. Plus, you could address different situations -- and tools -- as they arise if you have an online presence.



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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Feb 3, 2012, 05:18 PM

15. Welcome to the

 

Downside of Capitalism. It really does boil down to the money. Until enough people start making decisions based on some other paradigm than economics, these are the problems we're going to face, as a nation.

With the current state of information available and being distributed/disseminated, it's hard to believe that people aren't at least somewhat informed.

Priorities and realities are for a large part, financially based. Many other places have figure out how not to have warring cultures, and take care of their people. These problems, with the involvement of the true bosses (ostensibly) can be solved. Greed at all levels must be controlled.

You have to stand in awe of the marketing campaign that's led people to believe that the current state of afffairs in DC is the best we have to offer. Wow!

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Feb 3, 2012, 10:07 PM

17. I'll proffer...

The 2009 Democracy for America Handbook: http://www.democracyforamerica.com/trainingmanual2009dfa - This will help give you some ideas on grassroots organizing that others deal with and their approach to solving them. I would just comment that often the most difficult aspect is fundraising, it takes a lot of things to campaign effectively. But fundraising is much simpler than many people suspect as some things can be obtained as donations!

You can always find this link via the DFA group (there are also recordings of DFA Campaign Academy: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1105104

Hope you found this useful. Good to see you posting, aloha!

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Feb 3, 2012, 10:10 PM

18. I always Appreciate Your Posts

 

but I always want to punch, even though I don't. That part I struggle with.

Thank You H2O and folks like you(the better me).

How do you tell the bad from the good? Well, who is willing to DO what it takes is really the answer. Those who half-heartily accept a role or responsibility are a perfect clue. Is their "heart" in it?

Screen the person really well H2O.... ask questions about scenarios you know can clue you in.

I hope I helped.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Feb 3, 2012, 11:05 PM

21. Keep in mind the average non-activist person.

I guess you're writing the book for community activists, but it wouldn't hurt to keep in mind the average, non-activist person, to increase the numbers of people involved.

Speaking to someone who cares about an issue and would like to help do something about it, or at least express an intelligent viewpoint on it, but doesn't have a clue how to go about doing it. And who is turned off by suggestions to do overtly activist things.

Example: I was at a Dean introduction meeting a few years back, when he was running. It was at a public place, where we viewed him speaking via TV to various groups across the state or country. At the end, activist types walked around trying to get signatures to impeach Pres. Bush. I was totally turned off. There was no discussion beforehand that this would be asked, or why they wanted to impeach Bush. No issue was mentioned. I would never get involved in something so overtly activist that is not issue-oriented. I WOULD have done other things to try to have an effect on a specific issue.

But who would I have written? Who would have bothered to read my communication? How long should it be? Does it do any good when I sign those form letters I get via e-mail, that I sign and which are automatically going to be sent to various politicians? I'm not interested in general, negative actions that are party-based. I don't see that as helpful.

Or is there even a place for normal, non-activist people? Or do they need to just be on their own and not get involved in community action events?



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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Feb 3, 2012, 11:12 PM

22. slightly off subject

 

but where was that picture taken?

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Response to rufus dog (Reply #22)

Sat Feb 4, 2012, 12:18 PM

25. Hale Strret

in Norwich, NY.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #25)

Sat Feb 4, 2012, 07:34 PM

26. thanks, thought I recognized someone in the picture.

 

But she wouldn't be in Norwich.

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Response to rufus dog (Reply #26)

Mon Feb 6, 2012, 10:15 AM

27. One person in

the photo was visiting from out of state.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Feb 3, 2012, 11:29 PM

23. Most important thing: lose your ego.

Keep the protest/fight on-topic. No issue is about your singular collective belief. It's about the topic at hand. Leverage that.

This has been successful for me, and also made me very unpopular amongst some in my circle, not that I care.

As for the "dark side" in my movement I'm solidly there, I'm just not an idiot. I've earned or at least gained the respect of "terrorists" and angels.

So many folks across so many "movements" have so much in common that could be leveraged. I hope your book brings many folks together. I applaud what it appears you're putting together.

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