Starter Toolkit

  1. Get people together and start a discussion. You could host a film screening or potluck. You can start with even just 1 or 2 friends or allies and educate yourselves about how your local issues connect to globalized issues. Do some research and bring your findings to the group. Analyze and understand your community - not just about the sources of injustice, but about the sources of hope and inspiration, too.
  2. Talk about how to incorporate anti-oppression into your work (addressing inequities of race, ethnicity, gender, class, age, sexual orientation & gender identity, spiritual practice, ability, and so on). Make agreements and commitments to a process of dealing with these issues.
  3. Start a website, Twitter feed and/or Facebook page on your issue.  Put an ad on Craigslist or in a local paper, mag or event calendar.
  4. Look for existing groups that are already working on your issues.  Attend their meetings and events. Take advantage of announcement times during these meetings and invite people to your gatherings. Perhaps have coffee or share meals with folks you meet to deepen relationships. If you can’t locate groups working on your issue or if you don’t agree with their tactics, move forward anyway. Distribute flyers at other groups’ events and in your neighborhood. Canvass door-to-door to invite the community to join you, to educate them, and/or to gather information.
  5. Set up a time to meet weekly or every other week. Be creative with your meeting formats. (For example, host a coffee hour, root beer float night, gardening party, potluck supper or Sunday brunch.) Talk about your shared values and analysis of theories around how to effect meaningful change. Work with each other to deconstruct hyper-individualistic cultural conditioning by replacing it with community-building behaviors. Building trust and affinity takes time, so share spaces often and remember to include times to just be together without an agenda!
  6. Learn songs together. (Get started with our songbook) Singing embodies greater joy, positivity, infectiousness and appeal as compared to simply chanting - so be intentional and proactive about building your group’s repertoire and singing skills.  Worry not about always staying in tune! (We’re not the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.)
  7. Learn your subject; do your homework about your issue. But don’t feel like you have to be an expert. (We’re not building the Sistine Chapel.)
  8. Jointly agree upon a structure for decision-making and task management for your group. Recognize what skills you all bring and what you all can commit to with respect to time and work projects. Create an inclusive, honest and welcoming space.
  9. Begin building the kind of world we all want to see by fostering mutual aid and networks of support for each other. Create space for people to voice their personal needs such as child and pet care, transportation, employment offers/needs, physical and mental health requirements, and so on. Create a culture for your spaces, specific to YOUR community, bring in some rituals to welcome people in and ground yourself in the space you share.
  10. Seek out and lead trainings, and remain open to any and all organizing experiences being potential opportunities for growth and learning. Create a culture that easily integrates new people. Help them acclimate and orient them. Perhaps some folks could volunteer to serve as a “welcome wagon” for newcomers.
  11. Hold a public event. Do street theater; or have an art-building day to make banners, signs or puppets; or plant a guerilla garden. Start considering and planning for direct action. Within all this planning, always cater your message to your target audience. 
  12. When the time is right, begin exploring possible shared common/community spaces. Perhaps start in someone’s home or backyard; or in parks, libraries or community centers.  Based on your group’s needs see where you can grow from there - perhaps eventually securing your own space for meetings, events and artistic projects.
  13. Maintain a consistent practice of education and inviting in the broader community for low-commitment ice-breakers. For example, consider holding movie nights or a film series that features documentaries on peak oil, social movement history and the like. Follow the film with a discussion of how your local organizing fits in. (As with every event, make sure to collect contact information on everyone in attendance! If someone is willing to show up for an ice-breaker, chances are they’ll love to hear more from you!)
  14. Invite other activists and organizers from your community for informal gatherings. Build affinity also with folks working on other issues, but who share your values. Explore the inevitable connections and intersections in your respective issues. You will likely discover that Climate Justice is a goal for seemingly unrelated justice seekers.
  15. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Find existing tools and resources, then tailor them to your needs.
  16. Challenge yourselves to change your relationship to money, and transition into different ways of sustaining yourselves.  Examples include time banking, local currencies, pay-it-forward, gift economies, collectives, workers’ co-ops, sharing living spaces and community food production. This recognizes that resilience can indeed be a form of resistance.
  17. Have fun! (But only always.)