Organizing for the PPCA
If you are organizaing for the Pirate Party of Canada this page provides documentation for successful organization and promotion. By using this information to develop your local tactics, everyone can improve their practice and inexperienced activists can ensure that their actions are effective.
- 1 Books on the Theory Behind Organizing
- 1.1 Saul Alinsky's "Rules For Radicals"
- 1.2 Eric Mann's "Playbook For Progressives"
- 1.2.1 Roles of the Successful Organizer According to Mann
- 1.2.2 Download links
- 1.3 Abbie Hoffman's "Steal This Book" and "How To Fight City Hall"
- 2 Kick-Starting PPCA Organizing in Your Local Area
- 2.1 Establishing a Pirate Party Presence
- 2.2 Pamphlets and Brochures
- 2.3 Key Pirate Target Demographics
- 2.4 Important Tactics to Consider
- 2.5 Getting Involved
- 2.6 CryptoParties
- 2.7 Open Forums, Convergences, and Spaces
- 2.8 Information/Flyer Distribution Flash Mobs
- 2.9 Rallies, Protests, and Demonstrations
- 2.10 Some Notes on Monthly Meetings
- 3 Running in a Federal Election
Books on the Theory Behind Organizing
One of the weaknesses of all organizers is a lack of introspection and taking the time to raise their own practice to the level of theory. Like computer programming or martial arts, effective organizing requires understanding theory and experience. By reading these books you will become a better organizer. It is difficult to find good copies of these online, so consider getting a physical copy from a library.
Saul Alinsky's "Rules For Radicals"
Saul Alinsky is known as the founder of modern community organizing. "Rules For Radicals" is his most well known work, and it gives an in depth look at the theory behind community organizing as well as a lot of Alinsky's personal experience. It is the most important book for organizers to read. It is claimed that U.S. President Barack Obama was influenced by Alinsky, as well as that Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign was influenced by Alinsky's teachings.
- Rule 1: Power is not only what you have, but what an opponent thinks you have. If your organization is small, hide your numbers in the dark and raise a din that will make everyone think you have many more people than you do.
- Rule 2: Never go outside the experience of your people. The result is confusion, fear, and retreat.
- Rule 3: Whenever possible, go outside the experience of an opponent. Here you want to cause confusion, fear, and retreat.
- Rule 4: Make opponents live up to their own book of rules. (expose hypocrisy and limit your opponents mobility)
- Rule 5: Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It’s hard to counterattack ridicule, and it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.
- Rule 6: A good tactic is one your people enjoy. “If your people aren’t having a ball doing it, there is something very wrong with the tactic.”
- Rule 7: A tactic that drags on for too long becomes a drag. Commitment may become ritualistic as people turn to other issues.
- Rule 8: Keep the pressure on. Use different tactics and actions and use all events of the period for your purpose. “The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition. It is this that will cause the opposition to react to your advantage.”
- Rule 9: The threat is more terrifying than the thing itself. When Alinsky leaked word that large numbers of poor people were going to tie up the washrooms of O’Hare Airport, Chicago city authorities quickly agreed to act on a longstanding commitment to a ghetto organization. They imagined the mayhem as thousands of passengers poured off airplanes to discover every washroom occupied. Then they imagined the international embarrassment and the damage to the city’s reputation.
- Rule 10: The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative. Avoid being trapped by an opponent or an interviewer who says, “Okay, what would you do?”
- Rule 11: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, polarize it. Don’t try to attack abstract corporations or bureaucracies. Identify a responsible individual. Ignore attempts to shift or spread the blame.
According to Alinsky, the main job of the organizer is to bait an opponent into reacting. “The enemy properly goaded and guided in his reaction will be your major strength".
Eric Mann's "Playbook For Progressives"
Eric Mann is the director of the Labour/Community Strategy Centre and a 48-year veteran in anti-war, labor, and environmental organizing (working extensively with Congress of Racial Equality, Students for a Democratic Society, and the United Auto Workers). His book "Playbook for Progressives" outlines 16 qualities of a successful community organizer. Next to "Rules for Radicals" it is the second most important book to read for learning about community organizing. It has been called the "Art of War" for community organizers.
Roles of the Successful Organizer According to Mann
The first half of "Playbook for Progressives" highlights the twelve roles that a successful organizer must strive to fill. The latter half of the book highlights important considerations for the most important role for any organization: The cadre. Below we have summarized the twelve roles from the first half of the book.
A foot soldier works on the ground in their terrain. Think going knocking door-to-door in the community, putting up posters, making connections with people, and taking a hands-on approach to raising awareness. The foot soldier accomplishes the "grunt work" of organizing.
"The goal of the evangelist is to recruit and retain people in the movement by touching their deepest feelings and aspirations." The evangelist calls for change and commitment to a larger whole and broader cause. For an example of this personality type think Dr. Martain Luther King. A specific example of an evangelist in the Pirate movement is Rick Falkvinge.
"The goal of the recruiter is to reach new members, to involve them in the organization, to get them to stay, and, over time, to bring them into the leadership of the organization. If you ask people how they first joined an organization, they will point to a speech or a book that changed their mind, an experience that etched itself into their brain, and an organizer that convinced them to get involved."
"Recruiting brings individuals into the organization. Group building requires melding those individuals into committees, teams, and other collective structures that carry out the organization's work. This is also when the new contact has to transition from joining the organization because of a specific organizer, to meeting a lot of people in the group and wanting to be a team player. The group builder is a mentor and pays great attention to leadership development within the organization. The group builder focuses on creating forms of organization and healthy group dynamics that keep significant numbers of members engaged and committed."
"The strategist develops the long-term vision of the organization consistent with the long-term interests of the movement. By nature of the job, they function collectively in leadership bodies-an executive board, a central committee, a planning committee, a long-term strategy committee[, etc...] In any group, whether explicit or implicit, its organizing plan is based on strategy, and the strategists are the shepherds of the plan for the organization."
"Where the successful organizer in the role of strategist must keep the organization on course, the organizer as tactician leads the struggle on the ground to carry out the objectives of the broader strategy. He analyzes the opponent's strengths, weaknesses, and game plan and anticipates the opponent's moves. Based on this assessment, the tactician coordinates and callibrates the maneuvers of the people's movement in order to maximize the advantage of surprise and mobility against a far more powerful opponent.
The tactician integrates all the research into plans for specific times, places, and conditions for action. She determines when to advance, when to retreat, when to focus on political education and when to send the troops into the field, when to unite with the mayor and when to take him on. Once deciding to take on the mayor, for example, she determines how to navigate a complex tactical plan to kind the key demands, the correct approach, the appropriate tone, and the effective leverage to get him to change his mind and change his vote.
Tactics are all the forms of struggle and all the forms of organization from big to very small-that are required to carry out the strategy..."
"The job of the organizer is to live in the world of language-a leader of the spoken and written word, an artist who can draw word pictures, inspire the imagination, make the struggle come to life. In social movements around the world, organizers move their audiences in different languages. And in a multilingual world, our movements and organizations are increasingly multilingual." This is the realm of the communicator, who has the job of facilitating communication. For example, here in Canada that could mean communication between French and English Canadians.
"A political educator is a storyteller who conveys the master narrative of the organization and movement. She explains the whole picture, the long-range view that allows other organizers to situate their work in a broader historical, economic, cultural, and political context. The political educator presents a coherent ideological frame that gives confidence and a sense of orientation to the people she is organizing."
"The agitator is a political educator and mass mobilizer who focuses on specific abuse of the system, generates insight and anger, raises people's consciousness against the system, itself, and propels them into motion. The agitator speaks at a rally and gets the crowd fired up and ready to march on city hall because of a government raid on undocumented workers or a police shooting on an unarmed Black man. A good march or demonstration raises agitation to an art form...
The agitator builds on a powerful and shared experience, the charged moment when a group of people realize that a given outrage is part of an entire system gone wrong."
"The most successful organizers are successful fund raisers. The revolution is not free of charge. At times, a group, at the outset, does not have an office and is staffed by volunteer members. When the organization has a strong strategy and tactical plans, it can generate high visibility, high-results work. It also has the political understanding that fund-raising is a central task and develop organizers who fight to become good fund-raisers as part of their organizing work. Money can pay for a large and well-equipped office for an effective centre of operations, food for meetings, an emergency fund for member needs: rallies, travel, legal bills, billboards, lawn signs, computers, website design and execution; member stipens, and staff salaries. Money is power-the power to carry out your work."
Comrade and Confidante
"The comrade and confidante wins the respect and trust of the people, holds the organization together, counsels members and fellow organizers, and understands that the personal is political and the political is personal. After all is said and done, and organization rises or falls on the quality of the relationships at its core. Comradely relations built in the course of struggle strengthen the work and ensure the stability of the organization. You must feel that the people with whom you work the most closely literally have your back."
"Cadres are the most developed, committed, dedicated, organizers. Cadre are the backbone of the organization: together they form the skeletal structure around which the largest organization can be built."
Eric Mann outlined three critial elements of the cadre's role:
1. Being willing to do what the organization asks.
2. Bringing tremendous volunteerism to the job.
3. Being capable of building a base and evolving a project, campaign, or organization.
In part two of "Playbook for Progressives" Eric Mann goes into the 16 qualities of an effective cadre. Reading them is also highly recommended.
Abbie Hoffman's "Steal This Book" and "How To Fight City Hall"
Abbie Hoffman was a prominent activist during the 60's and 70's. He is well known for founding the Youth International Party and writing "Steal This Book". "Steal This Book" was written as an extensive manual for revolution, and so there are some sections that are unacceptable and not applicable for use within the Pirate Party (for example, the sections on theft and various weapons). The sections in this book on press conferences, demonstrations, and distributing papers/media are highly worth a read though.
On Media Exposure and Public Appearances
Media exposure through phone calls and tip offs, press conferences, or speaking in public are an important part of successful organizing. Consider this section from "Steal This Book" on press conferences, and apply his knowledge where it's acceptable for the Pirate Party:
Another way of using the news to advertise the revolution and make propaganda is to call a press, conference. Get an appropriate place that has some relationship to the content of your message. Send out announcements to as many members of the press as you can. If you do not have a press list, you can make one up by looking through the Yellow Pages under Newspapers, Radio Stations, Television Stations, Magazines and Wire Services. Check out your list with other groups and pick up names of reporters who attend movement press conferences. Address a special invitation to them as well as one to their newspaper. Address the announcements to "City Desk" or "'News Department." Schedule the press conference for about 11:00 A.M. as this allows the reporters to file the story in time for the evening newscast or papers. On the day of the scheduled conference, call the important city desks or reporters about 9:00 A.M. and remind them to come.
Everything about a successful press conference must be dramatic, from the announcements and phone calls to the statements themselves. Nothing creates a worse image than four or five men in business suits sitting behind a table and talking in a calm manner at a fashionable hotel. Constantly seek to have every detail of the press conference differ in style as well as content from the conferences of people in power. Make use of music and visual effects. Don't stiffen up before the press. Make the statement as short and to the point as possible. Don't read from notes, look directly into the camera. The usual television spot is one minute and twenty seconds. The cameras start buzzing on your opening statement and often run out of film before you finish. So make it brief and action packed. The question period should be even more dramatic. Use the questioner's first name when answering a question. This adds an air of informality and networks are more apt to use an answer directed personally to one of their newsmen. Express your emotional feelings. Be funny, get angry, be sad or ecstatic. If you cannot convey that you are deeply excited or troubled or outraged about what you are saying, how do you expect it of others who are watching a little image box in their living room? Remember, you are advertising a new way of life to people. Watch TV commercials. See how they are able to convey everything they need to be effective in such a short time and limited space. At the same tune you're mocking the shit they are pushing, steal their techniques.
How to Fight City Hall
Does the utility company treat you unfairly? Are you being pushed around by giant developers, the bank or the government? Is your community threatened by pollution? If you feel like one of the little people being stepped on by “the powers that be,” you're not alone. But if you feel there's nothing you can do about it, you're not paying attention to the groundswell of grass-roots activism taking place in America today.
Take the following examples:
- A year ago in Bucks County, Pa., the Philadelphia Electric Company began excavation for a controversial pumping station that would have harmed the Delaware River and disrupted the way of life of an entire community. Today, after waves of civil disobedience, pickets, rallies, and a courthouse occupation followed by a successful referendum campaign and county election, construction (despite millions invested) has been ordered shut down, and most observers agree the project will never see the light of day.
- In Anson County, N.C., a black and white alliance called CACTUS recently outfought the state chemical industry and blocked a mammoth waste dump.
- In Minnesota, a grass-roots organization called COACT, using a combination of direct action and political lobbying, has stopped scores of farm foreclosures.
- In San Francisco, a broad-based coalition has made some progress in limiting high-rise development, while on New York City's west side, a highway project has been held off for more than 10 years.
The people winning these battles don't sit around complaining about apathy; instead. they are actively “doing democracy.” That's right—doing democracy. Democracy is more than a place you live in, more than a belief. Democracy is a skill, something you learn and do. You don't do it, you don't have it. It's not inevitable that the little people triumph, but neither is it true that the powerful few at the top are unshakable.
For the last seven years, I've been starting and advising many grass-roots groups working on environmental issues. Before that, I had a long history in the civil rights and antiwar movements. Let me share with you some of the commonsense ideas and tricks of the trade that I've picked up along the way.
1. BEGIN WITH THE PROPER STATE OF MIND
You must feel strongly that, if you put time and energy into a thought-out campaign, you will prevail.
2. GET INTO THE FIGHT AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE
Keep abreast of what's going on in your community. Be on the lookout for public hearings, sudden requests to change zoning variances or attempts to deregulate industries. Understand that “studies” are often a smokescreen for beginning a project. One of the ironies of organizing is that it is much easier to get people active once a project has begun, but by then it may be too late to win.
At the earliest state, you might even be able to go on the offensive. Some groups defending waterways have managed to get Congress to designate areas under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. You might win an ordinance prohibiting toxic waste dumping or limiting the height of buildings, an impediment to downtown developers. By pushing for local restrictions, you stimulate early debate as well as lay groundwork for the future battle and put your opponents on the defensive.
3. THERE IS STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
Talk to your neighbors, attend public hearings, listen to community talk shows, scan the letters to the editor column. Get names and phone numbers. You want to avoid the sort of people depicted in the movie Network, those who run to the window shouting, “I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore.” Certainly it's right and natural to be angry, but the anger must be controlled and directed.
Avoid people who get scared by words like “power,” “conflict,” and “confrontation.” Many people get involved for religious or social reasons—both perfectly legitimate motives—but for spearheading a campaign, those people who understand the nature of politics are best suited to making strategy. The status quo sits like a layer of fat on cold chicken soup—your nucleus has to be willing to stir things up.
4. TAKE YOUR CASE TO THE PEOPLE
Public meetings are the bread and butter of all organizing. It's essential to create an atmosphere that's not intimidating so as to allow for free and open comment, but you should have some answers ready. A key to mounting a successful campaign rests on your ability to convert problem-presenters to problem-solvers. Break down generalities into limited goals. Saying, “We don't have enough money” is just depressing. But saying, “We need $1000 for ads. I've raised $100 already,” starts a process with a specific target.
The more experience I have, the more I favor parliamentary procedure and majority rule. The argument against this method of decision-making maintains that a small clique experienced with the ground rules can control the will of the group. But a determined few can just as easily control decisions under any set of procedures. Besides debating skills, the ability to negotiate, to form alliances and to direct discussion to a specific motion are all of great importance when confronting opponents.
Don't overlook simple business operating procedures just because this is volunteer work. Pass out pads and pencils. A simple form listening vital statistics—such as hours available, skills and resources—breaks the ice with new people. At meetings, get into a good news/bad news rhythm of reporting. Good news lifts sagging spirits. Bad news reminds you of the need to improve your organizing skills.
5. PAY ATTENTION TO THE INTERNAL WORKINGS OF YOUR GROUP
The majority of citizens' groups collapse within a year as a result of divisions, poor leadership and a general sense of frustration and inertia. By always asking, “Does this bring victory closer?” you can help motivate and bring a group together.
It's very important to be supportive of your fellow activists. Controversy attracts public attention. Challenging the “powers that be” often forces people to painfully re-examine long-held misconceptions, and leaders often find themselves on a lonely limb. Most groups fall down, however, not because they fail to support each other but because they are unwilling or unable to engage in self-criticism. Constructive criticism of ideas and tactics without being judgmental of individuals is more easily said than done. But how else do we improve?
6. BE VERY CONSCIOUS OF YOUR LANGUAGE
It cannot be stressed too strongly how much language shapes our environment. Language should be action-oriented, exciting, creative, simple and upbeat. Try to imagine yourself as someone creating an advertising campaign. Activists who carry around some prejudice that all advertising is deceitful, who feel that emphasizing form threatens the integrity of content really miss the essential nature of communication. You can't afford the luxury of being boring or of creating a language that the average person cannot understand. Avoid, for example, using initials for the full name of an agency. Even if all the people you are addressing know what EPA stands for Environmental Protection Agency (if they all do, you are not talking to enough people), say the full name. Why? As a reminder not to slip into the language of the bureaucracy. Those in power can, but not the challengers.
7. AVOID ANALYSIS-PARALYSIS
Read through reports, proposals and studies with the eye of a detective. Look for clues to prove your case, ammunition to destroy the opposition. But be careful not to get intimidated by the “facts”—or use them to intimidate others. Don't get bogged down because you feel you don't know enough to act. Also, a sense of humor is your best guard against burning out of energy and ideas.
There is no end to information-gathering. Often, as your reputation grows, people will literally pop out of the woodwork with bits of information. Don't assume your opponents are united; look behind the public relations people. The Freedom of Information Act and various state sunshine laws allow the public access to otherwise secret correspondence and minutes of meetings. Even where no such access laws exist, officials often believe they do, and a good bluff on the phone might quickly get scores of documents.
Information and support are also available from national groups. Even in their support is nothing more than a letter, people like to feel part of something bigger, and opponents get very nervous when you go beyond their turf.
8. THINK IN TERMS OF TEAM SPORTS OR WAR
Shifting from analysis to action means changing roles from that of a detective to that of a coach or general. By mapping out allies, potential allies and the opposition, by scanning the field repeatedly for strengths and weaknesses on both sides, you are making abstract ideas concrete. Many people have a philosophical resistance to creating a “them” and an “us,” to seeing things in black and white. Such an attitude of “oneness” might feel good, but not when you are challenging the process of decision-making.
9. ALWAYS GET THE LAST WORD
In presenting your case, don't let a good question go unanswered. Changes are a lot of other people are asking the same question. And never let opponents get the last work in any debate. If you get stumped, make sure it never happens again on the same point. Unfortunately, the majority of groups find themselves in the position of simply saying “No!” Work hard to develop and alternative—“No!” We have a better idea”—and include an economic argument.
10. A LITTLE RUDENESS HELPS
Getting through bureaucracies means being persistent and a little pushy. Remember that manners were invented by kings to maintain power. The determination to interrupt business as usual is often misunderstood as ill-mannered. Don't let the “king” define your behaviour.
11. YOUR ABILITY TO MAKE NEWS IS, AT CRUCIAL STATES, YOUR MOST IMPORTANT GOAL
The opposition would much rather go about its business secretly. Those who support you want to be assured that things are happening. The media only want to know the answers to three questions: Who are you? Why are you so upset? What are you going to do about it? Role-play along each other, playing reporter and information source. Be quick, to the point and suspenseful.
12. THINK EGOCENTRICALLY
Take the daily newspaper and draw a circle around every story in which you can make a connection to your issue. I mean everything! On the Delaware, a kid once saved someone who crash-landed in the river. Knowing he would be news, we rushed to feed him the line. “I hope someone will now save the river from the pump.” If a politician is coming to town, rush to the event and ask a key question. A good organizer is constantly on the move, constantly on the telephone. Practice by calling random names from the telephone book, posing as some neutral survey worker polling on the issue. When an article appears in the newspaper, call the paper's switchboard and register your feelings.
13. SEARCH FOR ALLIES
It's a big world out there. What's bad for your group has to be bad for others. Look hard for the most common denominator your share. Only approach others for support when you have a specific, immediate request you're fairly sure will be honoured... then ask for a little more.
People in general do believe in fair play, but what really motivates them is self-interest. If you can't spell out how the policy or project affects the person you're addressing, try someone else.
14. DON'T RULE OUT ANYTHING
Should you picket? Stage a rally? Run candidates? Go to court? There are hundreds of strategy options. Imagination. Surprise. Mobility. These are the advantages you have over your opponent in the field. Remember, at every step of the way, you have to ask, “Is this bringing us closer to victory?”
So how do people “do democracy”? They do it by acting out the roles they always dreamed of playing. Dramatist. Detective. General. Football coach. Preacher. Democracy means having the courage and persistence to makes the dreams of free people come true.
Kick-Starting PPCA Organizing in Your Local Area
Establishing a Pirate Party Presence
Aside from monthly meetings and various other events, an essential tactic for Pirate organizers should be maintaining a presence at events are locations frequented by our target demographics (people we want to earn the support of). In doing so we maintain not only a physical presence, but a psychological presence amongst the population. This is essential for raising awareness of the existence of PPCA and building recognition of our brand. In addition to maintaining a presence at areas frequented by our target demographics, we also want to attend local festivals and events.
Look at the images of the German and Swedish Pirate Parties to the right. Note the use of large amounts of orange and purple (Pirate Party colours for Germany and Sweden), pirate imagery (the ship and flag), and the presentable appearence of the booth. PPCA organizers should use this example as a model for promoting PPCA at various events. The minimum for a professional-looking PPCA booth should be a table with either a table cloth or Pirate-theme vinyl banner, both of which should have a colour scheme that heavily uses purple so as to further associate the colours purple with PPCA. Individuals setting up booths should also consider investing in a purple Pirate-themed festival tent.
Pamphlets and Brochures
In addition to looking professional and displaying PPCA colours and imagery, PPCA booths should also be distributing pamplets with information on digital issues along with information on PPCA. These "paper bullets" are absolutely essential to any political campaign. If we can have people not only recognize us in public, but take away something with our imagery or name on it we will have already succeeded in effective promotion. We already have some media like this made, however we need some pamphlets made with the new logo and colour purple.
Key Pirate Target Demographics
Young people have grown up with the Internet, and more easily relate to and understand digital issues than older generations.
See also: University promo campaign
The effect of copyright is particularly great in the academic world. Students understand the high costs of copyrighted course material (e.g. text books, scholarly articles, etc...) and the restrictions of intellectual property. They are also often young. Organizing on campus Pirate clubs/groups will be essential for promoting PPCA to this demographic.
Think individuals who frequent cyber/gaming cafes and comic, science fiction, and film conventions. Consumers of geek culture are likely to support file sharing due to the much higher cost of buying every piece of media they enjoy.
Very similar to geek culture. Consumers of anime, manga, and Japanese culture often have no choice but to pirate media they enjoy, as it's often not available in North America. More even, individuals who identify with this culture often also consume North American geek culture. Both consumers of geek and otaku culture are also likely to identify with Internet culture, and subsequently digital issues are particularly relevant to them.
Think individuals from different political groups with overlapping interests with PPCA. If you are getting involved with local activist communities (as suggested in an earlier post), you should actively be discussing and showing enthusiasm for the Pirate movement.
Important Tactics to Consider
As an organizer you must have both strategy and tactics. At the macro level you have your strategy, which is your end goal and your general means of achieving this goal. For example, as Canadian digital activists our end goal is to achieve copyright reform, net neutrality, open government, and to protect privacy and civil liberties. Our strategy for accomplishing this in PPCA is to organize as a political party to directly influence Parliamentary decisions. At the micro level you have tactics, which are how you maneuver on the ground to accomplish your overall strategy. For example, to protect privacy PPCA has launched operations such as Encrypt Everything, Pirate Linux, and our VPN. We've also had numerous rallies and flyer hand outs against bill C-11 and to support Wikileaks. These are all examples of tactics.
Here are some notes on specific effective tactics for promotion:
This is the most important aspect of community organizing. You need to be involved in different communities otherwise you will not make contacts, recruit supporters, and spread word of the existence of what you're doing. This is very, very important as the first goal of every organizer should be to recruit more people to their cause. Get involved with various local communities such as. Most activist communities are allies and can provide you with valuable contacts, experience, and friends. Make many allies.
CryptoParty is a grassroots global endeavour to introduce the basics of practical cryptography such as Tor, GPG, OTR, Truecrypt, etc. to the general public. It is an extremely important initiative, as increasing education surrounding the use of encryption makes Internet surveillance much more difficult and increases the overall freedom of information possible. CryptoParties also serve as an excellent venue for discussion surrounding digital issues, networking with like minded individuals, and other organizing.
Open Forums, Convergences, and Spaces
Having an open forum or convergence (a meeting of different groups) is a great way to recruit more people to your cause and give your group more exposure. These can be organized monthly to establish a relatively permanent presence for your organization. The model for this will of course vary from location to location and be dependant on the local population and what appeals to them. Beyond discussion of Internet issues the event should also have an appeal to attendees. This of course will vary from location to location. You must add appeal to these events beyond the political discourse. These events must find a balance between being enjoyable for their participants and being effective activism. Some events that can be worked into these spaces include:
- Dance parties
- Documentary screenings
- Potluck dinners
- Open mic nights
Information/Flyer Distribution Flash Mobs
A good model for an event that raises awareness of an issue and allows activists and organizers to get on the street and feel like they're making a difference is a flyer distribution (distro) flash mob. The idea is simple enough: Get a group of supporters or friends and distribute flyers about a particular issue in a high traffic area. This also creates the perfect opportunity to gather signatures for petitions, discuss the issue and recruit supporters, and to get exposure. It should be noted that this type of event should not be presented as a protest or demonstration, as the goal here is to distribute information. Distros like this should be clearly named such.
A good way to make a lot of flyers is to create an 8.5 x 11 image with the same information placed in all four corners. Cut through the middle diagonally and horizontally and you'll have four times as many flyers as if you had just printed one flyer.
Rallies, Protests, and Demonstrations
When looking at organizing locally often times the first (if not the only) event that many people think of is a rally or protest. This can be dangerous for organizers starting out because rallies require a network of supporters, resources for organiziing the rally, and media exposure. Planning rallies and having poor turn outs, lacking the resources to pull off the event, or other complications are an easy way for new organizers to burn out very quickly. Rallies, protests, and demonstrations should only be done with one purpose: Demonstrating there are large amounts of people who stand with you in solidarity. If you lack the network of supporters for a good turn out, there will be no solidarity on display.
If you lack the base of supporters for a good turn out, work on recruiting more people to your cause and educating them. If you do go ahead with planning a demonstation here are some things to keep in mind:
- Posters for promoting the event should be put up no less than two weeks before the event, and should /cover/ high traffic areas and areas close to the event location. This gives people time to schedule for the event. It also provides it with better exposure.
- If you're using tape consider using the tape to wrap around the poster rather than taping the top and the bottom. Covering the poster in tape gives it a level of waterproofing and prevents people from ripping down your posters (which will happen). There are posters up around my city that have been there for two years because they were wrapped in tape like this.
- If you're not using tape you should be using wheat paste. It is an affordable and easy to make adhesive. The recipe I have linked to is good, however you may add white glue to the mixture if you want.
- Directly calling something a "rally", "protest", or "demonstration" lacks appeal to a large amount of the population. It is better to call something an "Internet Day of Action" or something similar.
- You do not need a permit for an outdoor rally on public property. Section 2(c) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees you the right to peaceful assembly. It can however be advantageous to contact the city or police beforehand, to see if they can accomodate you in any way. Organizers should also note that while you have the right to peaceful assembly, section 1 of the Charter does authorize limitations where they can be justified. An obvious but slightly silly example would be attempting to rally, even peacefully, inside the Parliament Buildings; the House and Senate together have the constitutionally-rooted privilege to control the precinct exclusively, and could ban such a rally. Organize for maximum exposure, blanket your actions in morality, and use your rights provided by the charter where they apply to you.
- Always let local media outlets know in advance if you're planning a rally. We want as much media exposure as possible.
Some Notes on Monthly Meetings
General meetings should be done for local organizers to discuss and plan their tactics, as well as to discuss other issues relevant to the operation of their local group. A good model for this that also helps to build community is majority vote. This is first of all democratic, but also makes it more difficult for your group to be infiltrated. Consider the words of Abbie Hoffman on this:
The more experience I have, the more I favor parliamentary procedure and majority rule. The argument against this method of decision-making maintains that a small clique experienced with the ground rules can control the will of the group. But a determined few can just as easily control decisions under any set of procedures. Besides debating skills, the ability to negotiate, to form alliances and to direct discussion to a specific motion are all of great importance when confronting opponents. - Abbie Hoffman's "How to Fight City Hall"
Monthly meetings should not be held as a way of regularly meeting with members. Organizers should look at other tactics for this purpose that are more appealing to the general population. See the section on open forums, convergences, and spaces for some ideas.
Running in a Federal Election
This section is intended to give a general overview of the requirements for running in a federal election, as well as some insight on the procedure. More information can be found on the Elections Canada website.
See also: mapleleafweb.com Federal Election Guide
Prior to running as a candidate, there are a few considerations. What is mentioned here is mostly taken from the Elections Canada page Important Considerations for Prospective Candidates. A candidate must be at leat 18 years of age and a Canadian citizen. The first requirement for canidates is to appoint an official agent and eligible auditor. From the EC website:
A candidate's first official duty is to appoint an official agent and an eligible auditor – that is, one who is accredited under provincial law to perform accounting services or is a member of a partnership, each of the members of which is accredited under provincial law to perform accounting services. The official agent must be appointed before the campaign accepts a contribution or incurs an electoral campaign expense.
Returning Officer Signatures and Deposit
The next concern for the candidate is to fill out the EC Nomination Paper (EC 20010), and to pay a deposit of $1000. From the EC website:
As soon as possible after an election is called, every person who has decided to be a candidate in that election and who has chosen an official agent and an auditor must obtain the Nomination Paper (EC 20010) from the returning officer of the riding in which that person intends to be a candidate, or from Elections Canada's Web site. The nomination paper must be signed before a witness by at least 100 persons who are electors entitled to vote in the riding in which the candidate is seeking nomination. (In the case of the larger or remote ridings listed in Schedule 3 of the Act, the required minimum number of signatures is 50.)
The witness to the prospective candidate's sworn consent to the nomination must then submit the nomination paper to the returning officer. The paper includes a witnessed declaration signed by the candidate stating that he or she accepts the nomination, statements signed by the official agent and the auditor consenting to act in those capacities, the candidate's name, permanent address and occupation, the official agent's name and permanent address, and the name, business address and occupation of the auditor. A candidate is also required to pay a deposit of $1,000. This is reimbursed only if the candidate's official agent submits the Candidate's Electoral Campaign Return (EC 20120) and related documents to the Chief Electoral Officer and unused official tax receipts to the returning officer within the time prescribed...
... The witness to the candidate's consent to the nomination must submit the nomination paper, the deposit and all related documents to the returning officer between the time that the returning officer publishes the Notice of Election and the time that the nominations close at 2:00 p.m. on Monday, the 21st day before election day. A candidate whose witness is unable to get to the local Elections Canada office has the option of making other arrangements with the returning officer to file the nomination paper under subsection 70(3) of the Act, or the prospective candidate may file electronic copies of the documents by the close of nominations. For electronic filing, the returning officer must receive the deposit by the close of nominations and he or she must receive all of the original documents not later than 48 hours after the close of nominations.
Following the submission the returning officer will accept or reject each submission. If rejected, you have until nominations close to submit your forms again. EC gives the following advice to make sure your submission goes smoothly:
- File as early as possible, so that there is sufficient time to correct the nomination paper if the returning officer finds it is incomplete.
- Make an appointment with the returning officer when you are ready to file your nomination papers.
- Make sure that the names and addresses of nominating electors are as legible, complete and clear as possible. This will help speed up the verification process and allow the returning officer to confirm the candidate's nomination quickly.
- Provide more than the required number of signatures, so that if there are difficulties in confirming the qualifications of some electors, there will still be sufficient names to continue the process and reach the threshold of 100 (or 50, as required). You cannot provide additional signatures to the returning officer after 2:00 p.m. on Monday, the 21st day before election day.
With regard to the advice to include more than the required signatures, we recommend that you include 50-100 more than required and submit them with the rest of the signatures. This makes discrimination difficult. If you are having difficulty collecting signatures consider asking for them with a line similar to "I am looking for signatures to run in the next election. Signing this does not mean you support me, it simply allows me to run in the election". Good places for collecting signatures include densely populated areas such as apartment buildings.
Financing Your Campaign
Promotion and Public Relations
Effective promotion is essential for spreading word of PPCA. A good starting point for background knowledge on this subject is the book "Propaganda", by Edward Bernays (the father of public relations), which lays out the theory behind modern public relations.