activist notes


6.9 Appendix: Collected Snippets of Advice

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6.9 Appendix: Collected Snippets of Advice

6.9 Appendix: Collected Snippets of Advice 

Compiled by Susan Marie Turner and Aaron deLaporte  

6.1 Getting things going 

6.1.1 Designing objectives

·         Look at what piece of what you want to ideally achieve can be done locally

·         Learn about the municipality

o        How the municipal government works

o        How the municipal staff operate

·         Keep an eye on things in the next stage known as implementation, which is always problematic. 

6.1.1.2 What can a municipality do

·         The project has to be lined up with what a municipal government can actually do. 

6.1.1.3 How a municipality works 

6.1.2 Building forward

·         Develop your campaign to make a specific change in how the municipality functions in a way that builds your organization’s strength for the future. 

6.2 Groundwork

·         Talk to people about the issues and problems using any of the many ways we can make connection with one another today

o        The media

o        The internet

o        Meetings

o        Chat with friends and neighbours, and in university and college settings

·         Build-up of people who are used to the idea that as citizens they can be part of making change from below.  

6.2.1 Precursors 

6.2.2 Activist connections

·         Figure out where you might find support and where coalition members come from if you decide to go that route

·         Councillors, members of the provincial legislature or members of parliament may have themselves been active in community organization at earlier stages of their lives

·         Existing organizations are an invaluable resource 

6.2.3 Media

·         Know your media

·         Do some research

·         See how the issues you’re concerned with are being framed in the media

·         Getting hold of and changing the frame can make a big difference

·         Build media interest and support 

6.2.4 Groundwork as basis for action 

6.3 Sharpening objectives

·         Sharpen your objectives and focus the campaign on what can actually be achieved by the governmental level you’re aiming to put pressure on

·         Develop objectives that aim directly at the capacities of the municipality (or other level of government)

·         Think about how your objectives might be framed so as to offer positive payoff for the municipality

·         Translate general principles into recognizable forms that can actually be achieved and implemented at this level

·         Work towards objectives that make sense in terms of how a municipal Council can act and what is the most effective form of action to go after

·         Be aware of what is implied by what you decide to go after 

6.4 Resources 

6.4.1 Knowhow

·         Talk over coffee, casual meetings, having a drink together

o        Connect and talk about troubling issues and how they might be addressed in a municipal setting  

6.4.1.1 Knowing how municipal politics work

·         Talk to people ‘in the know’

·         Collect press clippings

·         Watch television broadcasts of municipal Council meetings

·         The municipality’s legal basis – charter or status as a corporation – will be on the internet

·         Make a file of press clippings on Councillors and interest groups who may present your campaign issues with opposition 

6.4.1.2 Drawing on Activist political and organizational experience

·         The experience of people who’ve already been involved in such activities is invaluable

o        Connect with them

o        Involve them if you can

o        Ask them questions

o        Learn from them (you don’t have to agree with everything, but you can learn) 

6.4.1.3 Learning municipal political and organizational process

·         How are staff are involved in preparation and presentation?

·         What forms (documents) does it take when it goes from council to staff for implementation?

o        What happens when a policy is translated into staff practices? 

6.4.2 Connections

·         Sit down together as a group and share community connections

·         Use a brainstorming technique to locate community and other resources 

6.4.2.1 Other community organizations

·         Connections with Councillors are central

·         Draw on your connections to expand your own network

·         Ask other community organizations for support

·         Check out possible allies at national and international levels on the web! 

6.4.2.2 City staff

·         Connections with staff can be the most useful

·         Learn from city staff more about how things work

o        Find the right language (this matters more than you might think)

o        What is practicable at the implementation stage 

6.4.3 Work and work time

·         Consider your work resources

·         Ask for help from not-for-profit organizations, unions and faith groups that have paid staff

·         Ask for help from volunteers or organizations that organize volunteers

o        Example – The Society of Friends (‘Quakers’) 

6.4.4 The internet 

6.4.5 Materials

·         Access to printing and copying resources, facilities and meeting places, are critical.  

6.5  Building coalitions

·         Spread your thinking on who might contribute to the strength of a coalition

o        General mobilization of citizens through public demonstrations is not needed  

6.6 Policy/by-law design 

6.6.1 Wording

·         Pay attention to shifts in language involved

·         Get a sense of the specialized language used by mayor, councillors and staff

o        How much seems to depend on getting something to fit a particular rule or category

·         The forms in which council can get actions going are by a formal procedure of making a decision

·         The wording has to fit within what the municipality can do in the terms established by the specific provincial laws govern them 

6.6.1.1 Involving city staff

·         Who can take on the responsibility for additional work involved?

·         Involve staff at the stage of planning to make the stage of implementation easier 

6.6.1.2 Intertextual resources

·         Get advice about wording policy or bylaw text so that it will conform to national or international standards

·         Legitimate your documents and give them authority with other texts

o        Use intertextual resources and identify them in the text of your proposal

o        Use wording that is explicitly legitimated by legal authority, international organization, or /other formally recognized and established bodies 

6.7 Getting it through council 

6.7.1 Mobilizing support

·         Think about how the public may be involved beyond those directly active members

·         Use ‘focus groups’ to sound out how the ideas

o        Talk with people about what your group is doing

o        Keep track of how the news is framing issues on local TV, in radio and in newspapers

·         Be attentive to possible gaps between how insiders’ talk and what may be intelligible to outsiders

·         Translate issues into terms that people can understand

·         Encourage people to write letters to local newspapers supporting campaign objectives, put signs on their front lawns, etc.

·         Beware! Use of the media is powerful, but tricky

·         Demonstrations should only be launched if there’s a reasonable expectation of numbers sufficient to impress 

6.8 Implementation

·         Anticipate difficulties and incorporate appropriate provisions in the policy

o        Ensure that the policy proposed anticipates practicalities of implementation 

6.8.1 Monitoring implementation

·         Remember that the budget, and the budget process, are always key


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