- DIY Guide
- Info Night
You're the one who knows your environment far better than we do. So you could read this text, but you shouldn't follow us. Please follow and Do It Yourself!
- Go to the link page, take a look at all these different groups and individuals and think what kind of initiative attracts you the most? One step further could be: think about anything new or different. Every practise starts with a dream, a first draft, a global concept.
- Is there anyone you know who possibly feels attracted to your global concept of a creative activist group? Start talking with him / her and see if you share a desire to start your own group. Maybe you start with three people like we did. Now you're a small initiative group. Of course you could also start with a bigger group: but first take a look if you share the same dreams - otherwise you'll lose a lot of energy at the start with discussions about which direction to go. Necessary discussions are all right, but better not at the starting point. Then you need your energy for a lot of work.
- You've your first meeting with your initiative group. You exchange thoughts with each other about global goals, what kind of actions / interventions, what should be a good name of the group to start with and how should the concept of your group look like?
After these talks you agree at least globally.
- You start thinking about how to organise the group. That's completely up to you. There are groups (f.e. the Rebel Clowns in Berlin) who meet every week during a night. They talk about initiatives and exercise every week.
We chose another model: having once a month one Sunday afternoon in a gym for a lunch, talks, exersises, etc. Next to it we usually have a preparation night at someone's home to practically prepare for an action. And than of course there's the day or the night of the action. For us these usually three moments a month work.
You should think about your own global schedule. Meeting too often will be exhausting for the group. Meeting just once in a while doesn't bring enough experiences to build up and improve your initiative. Find a good balance!
After this other round of talks you agree globally about how to organise your group. Later you could improve arrangements by the wishes of new participants.
- You look at the internet and start to collect pictures and short films about similar groups. You put them on a memory stick. You arrange a laptop, projector and sound system. You prepare your introduction talk. You arrange a space to have an information night about your initiative. You design a clear flyer about the info night. You make plenty copies and spread them at several spots where people come who might be interested. Next to it you could also make and spread a poster. You announce your info night at websites.
You take care people are able to reach you: you have a public email address on the flyers and posters. It should be very nice to have at least a simple website or weblog with basic info about your initiative and your public email address.
All these practical tasks aren't done by one person: spread the tasks among all initiators.
- Hopefully enough people show up at your info night. Someone of you gives an introduction, another one shows the pictures and/or short films and explains. You give space to the visitors for questions and discussion. Someone else of the initiative group ends the night with information about how to connect with the group practically. You collect email addresses. You have one list for people who are thinking about joining the group. They get an invitation for a next internal meeting. If people show up that internal night you could start an internal email list with only the active members. That's your active email list.
Next to it you could offer people who don't have plans to join now, to join your passive email list. An email list where people only once in a while get announcements about your future public activities. People on the passive email list can't email each other; they only get some announcements to keep in touch with activities. People on the active email list are able to send each other emails: ask everyone to limit these emails to subjects related to the group (to don't get crazy by the amount of email).
- You now plan a date for your extended group: the first initiators + the ones who showed interest to join during the info night. Take care everyone is able to join that night. That night the real works starts: what are you going to do with your group? What do you need to prepare? When? How? etc.
Depending of your initiative you maybe first have to organise a basic training before doing an action. For example in case you start a local 'Rebel Clown Army'. But maybe your initiave needs other physical exercises. Could be an improvisation or physical theatre workshop. Maybe you know someone who's able to accompany particular exercises and games. Before start acting on the streets start exercising!
If you first need a training or workshop before you start acting in public space the info night should also be the moment to announce that activity for people who might be interested to join the group. A training or workshop is a great opportunity to let them experience the intentions of your group in a safe environment.
- You made costs with your flyers, posters, website, maybe renting a place for the info night and a gym for a workshop, etc. Perhaps someone of the group was able to pay the first costs. But now you not only need money to pay that back, but also for the future actions: special clothes, make up, wigs or any other attributes. Send a request to a solidarity fund, maybe there's a local non-profit organisation who could contribute, you could organise a benefit party, etc. And if that doesn't work you share the costs with the participants. Maybe the rich a bit more and the poor a bit less.
You'll not only need money to cover the costs, you maybe also need a lot of stuff. Build up a network: there are many people willing to help you.
Without asking them people started to give us special clothes for actions because they feel sympathy for what we're doing.
- Everyone takes care for the group. It means all voices should be heard. Your initiatives should be carried by everyone. Usually men are quite fast with talking in groups: therefore have rounds or ask people who were silent about their opinion. Everyone in the group should at least try to follow the media and collect information. If you don't do that it will always be the same people telling about the current situation. Share available information. Try to avoid informal leadership. Share practical tasks. Of course it could happen someone is better with a particular task, but if possible change positions once in a while.
An action should be a shared experience. Together you prepare, together you exercise, together you do the action and afterwards you have a short evaluation together to learn from it, to build up trust and to improve a next time.
Avoid to have a small group doing all the preparations and a bigger group only showing up during the actions. It will give frictions after a while. That's why we think it's better to have a smaller well motivated group than a bigger group without obligations.
- Think about your limits: better to have a great action once in a while than dozens you even can't remember. Avoid you're doing actions others expect you to do. Develop your own vision, make choices and prioritise, have free brainstorms without the pressure something should happen tomorrow. Create a 'fridge' for great ideas. Then you already have some appropriate ideas for when the moment is there.
Wish you a lot of inspiration and success!
Tuesday July 5th 2011: Amsterdam Rebel Brides and hundreds of other people try to defend squat and cultural centre 'Gallery Schijnheilig' on the day of eviction. Photo: Paul Koene