-- The Politician-Free Zone
 
 
 
As well as being politically spot on, this website also has awesome psychic powers.
 
 
 
How long would it take the head of a big company to earn your pay? Trick question - they don't earn their pay.
 
 
 
An introduction to the site and information on the latest things that've been added to it.
 
 
 
Information about Rachel Corrie, an American killed by the Israeli army in 2003.
 
 
 
The latest Australian and international news, facts and quotes.
 
 
 
A small collection of fonts for Word and other programs, including take-offs of McDonalds and other corporate logos.
 
 
 
A small collection of political tattoos.
 
 
 
The Politician-Free Zone is the place to start if you're interested in reading about anarchist ideas. It has articles which between them answer most of the questions that people have, as well as a lot of cartoons and graphics.
 
 
 
Free board game based on the 1999 anti-World Trade Organization demonstrations.
 
 
 
Useful or fun stuff on other sites.
 
 
 
Carlo Giuliani was a 23 year old anarchist, killed by Italian police at a protest in 2001.
 
 
 
An anarchist tribute to Tintin.
 
 
Advertisement
where the money goes
 
PLEASE NOTE: As of November 2014, this site is no longer updated. However it will be left up indefinitely as an archive.
 
 
 
Back to the main list.
Organising A Local Group
 
Local group members should ask themselves some questions. Are we reaching out to various groups in the community? Are we seen by other parts of the community as a resource and support group at moments of community crisis?
 
Here are some guidelines to consider in preparing to work for a just and peaceful world:
 
  • Educate yourself while keeping your mind on possible actions.
  • Gather a core group incorporating as many key skills as possible.
  • Take local action with a specific focus, within the context of your broader concerns. A "scattershot" approach to organizing will likely end in frustration.
  • Identify all avenues of access you might have into the political processes of your community.
  • Identify and approach all possible allies.
  • Target your information to the public. They are more likely to be persuaded than the establishment.
  • Take yourself, your group, and your issues seriously. If you lack confidence in your cause it will soon show.
  • Present viable alternatives.
  • Continuity, persistence, and focus are prime ingredients for success.
 
Recruitment
 
The most effective way to get people to attend a meeting is one-to-one contact. If people are asked directly to come to a meeting, then they are more likely to attend. The next best method is to mail a letter or postcard about a meeting, followed by a phone call reminder. People are less likely to come if they just hear or read about it.
 
The common "mass methods" of outreach are through leafletting or setting up literature tables. You can set these up at speaking engagements, concerts, meetings, film showings, shopping centers, demonstrations, and so forth. Having a sign-up sheet is good for follow-up calls and mailings.
 
Placing an ad or announcement for a meeting in a newspaper, on the radio or community billboard, or simply postering key locations can be useful to draw people, but don't rely on these methods to act as more than a reminder.
 
The key is to be creative and continue to reach out. No group will remain stable for long without continually trying to gain new members. This is especially true in places where people are always coming and leaving, like high schools.
 
It is crucial that new people are made to feel welcome. When a stranger comes to a meeting, introduce them around. Involve the person in regular meeting discussions and activities after the meeting. Also, give the new person a real task to perform. This could be making posters, handing out some leaflets, reading a book for a study group, helping to organize a demonstration, or putting to use any skills they may have. You have to make sure that a new person does not feel overburdened or pressured into it, or get frightened off.
 
The key is to attract five to ten reliable people who are likely to stay past the first few meetings. This is your core group.
 
 
The First Meeting
 
The first meeting of a group can be crucial to the initial success of that group, so plan carefully. Set a time and place before contacting people. The place should be convenient. The time should be far enough ahead so there are no conflicts, and soon enough so people won't forget. That means about a week or two ahead.
 
Before the meeting, make an agenda. Include
 
  • what you want to do
  • why you want to do it
  • how you'll go about it, and
  • who will join in.
You should arrive at least half an hour in advance. Try to have a beverage and some sort of snack available. Also, display any appropriate literature you might have. Make sure someone will take notes. The notes can be sent to all those who expressed interest but couldn't attend, as well as those who did attend.
 
Start the meeting with introductions to each other, giving a little more than your name. Go over the agenda to see if there are any changes or additions, then set a reasonable time limit for the meeting to end (e.g., 2 hours) and stick to it. After there's been group acceptance of the what, why and how, get firm commitments to do something like giving money on a regular basis, giving time, attending a study group session, leafletting, or just about anything. Without a commitment to do something, people have no reason to be part of the group. Before the meeting breaks up be sure to set a time and place for another meeting. Ask people to bring others who are interested to the next meeting. You may want to set up task forces to meet between meetings.
 
Meetings are a drag only if you don't get anything done. Every time you have a meeting, decide beforehand what you want to accomplish - as an example:
 
  • First Meeting.
Get friends and people politically close to you. Discuss the need for a local group to act on specific issues. Work for common agreement in identifying the issues, and get commitments to work on them through the group.
 
  • Second Meeting.
Get new people. Summarize previous decisions and determine how the organization will function.
 
  • Third Meeting.
Plan some sort of action and/or set up a study series.
 
  • Fourth Meeting.
Discuss the action and plan further activities. Plan the involvement of more people.
 
If your meetings regularly exceed 20 to 30 people, you may want to split into two or more groups. The ideal sized group for decision making is on the order of a dozen or so. Sometimes people have a big meeting, which talks about general issues. Then the meeting breaks up into smaller groups who work on specific tasks. Then the meeting comes back together and the smaller groups report back.
 
 
Keeping the Local Group Alive
 
The easy part is getting started. The hard part is keeping things going. The single most important way to sustain a local group is to be active. If you don't develop regular projects and actions that people can involve themselves in, they will sense a purposelessness to the group and drop out.
 
There are lots of actions that can be organized on a regular basis. Leafletting (handing out leaflets to people, or going around putting them in letterboxes) once a week is one example. This ongoing program involves people in a leafletting schedule, and doing the leafletting itself. Study programs are regular activities that will involve people if you have a goal. Create study programs around issues, around politics, around prospective actions.
 
A newsletter that comes out regularly fills several needs. It's an ongoing activity that involves people. It gets out information on local activities and is an outlet for political education. It serves as a forum for opinion. It helps tie the membership together. A newsletter can be on paper, or on the internet. With putting information out on the internet, you have to be aware that 'just because you have access to the net doesn't mean everyone else does'.
 
Second to having a program and doing something, what keeps a group together and helps it grow is a how people feel about it. A sense of togetherness is really important in this alienating society. If your group is a place where people can feel wanted and part of something, they'll stay and work.
 
Make your meetings enjoyable rather than dreary. For instance you can ask everyone to bring food and have a dinner at the same time, and at a regular time and place, so that going to them becomes a habit for members. Do some things that are done just for fun. Have parties and picnics or retreats. Make decisions cooperatively. That means really talk things out at your regular dinner meeting. People need to feel involved, and be involved, at all levels of the group. There's a tendency to let one person write the leaflets, one person to do the thinking, and another to do the shit work. While it's true that some people are better at a given task than others, an attempt should be made to rotate the tasks.
 
 
Troubleshooting Common Local Group Problems
 
  • Endless meetings with little action.
Do anything together, no matter how small can give an important feeling of accomplishment while beginning the groundwork for a more substantial project.
 
  • Failure to attract, integrate, and hold new members.
Brainstorm ideas for outreach and implement these ideas. Make every new person feel welcome and immediately involved.
 
  • Leader or key organizer leaves.
Though it is often more efficient (in the short run) to have the "best" person do a particular task, it is much better to encourage others to take initiative, responsibility, and leadership in certain areas.
 
  • Responsibilities not adequately shared.
A process of rotating responsibility or leadership can be regularized to promote a decentralization of skills, thus strengthening the movement. Set a time limit (e.g., every 3 months) to rotate convening and facilitating meetings, etc. Schedule special workshops for certain skills (e.g., writing and designing leaflets, speaking, fund raising).
 
  • Lack of funding.
Establish a pledge system for regular members ($1 a week or $5 a month) just to meet basic operating expenses. Plan a raffle, garage sale, film showing. Brainstorm other ways to get funding.
 
  • Group too large.
Split the group up, either by geography, interests, or meeting time. This will keep meetings from getting too cumbersome.
 
  • Division of interest/lack of unity.
If your group is doing too much at once, you may wish to split the group along the lines of the areas of interest, instead of doing many things poorly.
 
  • Group changes from founding basis.
Often, as new people join a group, it begins to change from its original purpose or its politics may be altered or diluted. Sometimes this is a good process, but sometimes this happens by design (e.g., infiltration and take-over).
 
To avoid the latter, the group should be founded on a clear basis. You should set out what you believe in, not just leave it vague. The more vague the group's basic ideas are, the easier it is to manipulate the group.
 
But it's also important not to get too paranoid and suspicious. Often groups are more disrupted by suspicion of "who's the agent," than by what an agent could do.
 
Back to the main list.