How to Do Outreach and Build Community

posted by Scott Schaeffer-Duffy on September 23rd, 2005

One-man or one-woman revolutions are sometimes necessary, but should never result from a failure to invite others to your demonstration.

Use e-mail, mailing lists, and phone trees from groups sympathetic to your cause. Put announcements in your local newspapers’ calendars, and put up flyers in public places.

Introduce everyone at each protest. Honor all who join you. Ask for feedback afterwards and try to keep an open mind about incorporating new ideas.

Never use us/they language. Instead, describe problems as things which everyone in the human community must solve together.

Respect for your opponents will increase the likelihood of genuine dialog and eventual alliance.

Author’s note: Before my first demonstration in 1978, I enjoyed a nonviolence training session led by seasoned activists, using a booklet filled with wisdom gained over time. Later on, when organizing protests of my own, I enjoyed the advice of civil rights and Vietnam War protestor Tom Lewis. I have also learned a few things the hard way. I hope How to Hold a Demonstration will make it easier for others to organize powerful and persuasive protests.

How to Pick a Time and Place

posted by Scott Schaeffer-Duffy on September 20th, 2005

Select a place for your demonstration that has important symbolic value and is also visible to pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

For example, you may have an arms factory located on an out-of-the-way road. In this case, an anti-war protest may have more impact at a war memorial downtown.

Symbolic dates are fine, but should not be stuck to if more people are likely to attend on a weekend.
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posted by Scott Schaeffer-Duffy in How to Hold a Demonstration | on September 20th, 2005 | Permanent Link to “How to Pick a Time and Place” | 1 Comment »

How to Send a Clear Message

posted by Scott Schaeffer-Duffy on September 9th, 2005

Before your demonstration, articulate what you oppose and support in a single-sided flyer. Give it a short title. Sum your purpose up in one sentence, then highlight it.

Don’t get sidetracked. Every group has members with pet issues. A protest headlined “Vegans, Catholics, Feminists, Anarchists, Pacifists Unite!” is less likely to draw a crowd than one labeled “Unite Against War!” If it’s a vigil against factory farming by Kentucky Fried Chicken, then vegetarianism might belong in the title, but not otherwise.
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posted by Scott Schaeffer-Duffy in How to Hold a Demonstration | on September 9th, 2005 | Permanent Link to “How to Send a Clear Message” | 1 Comment »

How to Make a Sign

posted by Scott Schaeffer-Duffy on August 23rd, 2005

When it’s time to hold a demonstration, use signs and banners that are readable, neat, and attractive.

Art stores sell a product called foamcore that is much more durable than posterboard, which disintegrates in the rain and flaps in the wind.

Banners, made of white sheets folded lengthwise, are great in rainy or windless situations, but require more effort to hold.

Lettering and artwork should be in acrylic paint, because it is brilliant and waterproof. Magic markers stink. They are too thin, streaky, and pale.

Which signs can you read? Letters on a poster or banner should be at least 3 in x 6 in. The best test for legibility is to stand 30 feet away from your signs and try to read them. Consider how little time drivers have to take in your message.
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