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Re: yesterday's rally, Shawn is right!

by Tom Louie Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2003 at 2:31 AM

How about a day of mass organizing?

Yesterday's march was the greatest and biggest protest I have seen in L.A.since the anti-187 march in

'94. It seemed like a lot more than 15,000 to me. I talked to one woman who said it took an entire

hour (approx. 1:00 to 2:00) for all the marchers to turn the corner at Spring and Temple. It was also

one of the more diverse marches I have seen, in terms of age, gender, race, lifestyle

(mainstream/counterculture) and political beliefs. I didn't watch the news so I don't know how it was

covered, but somebody told me that all the networks were there. And, very important: no provocations

or arrests!!!!! (This means that all those first-time marchers won't be afraid to come out for the next

one. Let's keep 'em all coming back-- demos with only the "usual suspects" are boring.)

Having said that, I do think Shawn is right in proposing that we take the peace movement to the next

level. In the leaflet he was passing out, Shawn was basically proposing that we mobilize for a day of

mass organizing action, not just a march and rally. We would pick a day and have thousands of people

converge at one point, just like a rally. Then we would all split up into hundreds of organizing teams

and fan out across the city, doing whatever is necessary to spread the word about the movement:

leafletting, street theater, one-on-one conversations, whatever. Then everybody would gather in one

place again to celebrate the day's work.

To a certain extent, this is already happening. I have seen more than one announcement on the email list-serves

inviting people to come out for a day of organizing and outreach. These are usually small-scale, local

events. Imagine, then, what could be done if the same effort and resources that go into planning and

staging a huge march and rally were directed toward staging a day of MASS ORGANIZING???? I

think that the coalitions who put on yesterday's event -- NION, ICUJP, ANSWER and the CfWP --

should sit down with local activists and smaller groups and start planning that, as the next logical

step to take.

There are three reasons to have a big demo: morale, publicity and organizing opportunities. It's the

third one that sometimes gets short shrift. In the past (but not yesterday!!!) I have been disappointed

by failure to follow up on a big march. I have sat in planning meetings where no one gave a thought to

what would happen after the march, and so no plans were made to get marchers' names, sign them up

in the movement, circulate clipboards in the crowd, or even leaflet spectators on the sidewalk. And

then, at the first meeting after the march, everybody just sat around patting themselves on the back and

bragging about how great the march was. And then one of the march planners proposed that we take a

month off to "reflect," just as important legislation was coming up. A colossal, short-sighted,

narcissistic waste of effort!

To be fair, that's a worst-case scenario, and it does not apply to every march I have been in.

There would also be obstacles and difficulties to overcome with the "day of mass organizing" model.

For one thing, attendance would be lower than at a simple march/rally, because marching is EASIER

than organizing. Many people are shy. Unlike professional activists, average people are uncomfortable

about approaching people they don't know, and many are scared of rejection or hostility. Therefore,

we should apply some creativity toward making "Organizing 101" as painless as possible for the

first-timer or the average person. The point is to reach out to new people, and keep them coming back.

So how about it, big anti-war coalitions? Shawn is right. Let's take the next step!

Report this post as:

Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 26 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
chomping at the bit johnk Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2003 at 3:26 AM
yeah.... akachan#2 Thursday, Jan. 16, 2003 at 4:23 AM
This has been a fantasy project. Sparkle Thursday, Jan. 16, 2003 at 7:54 AM
IM IN! Natalie Landau Thursday, Jan. 16, 2003 at 7:50 PM
really!?! JAY Friday, Jan. 17, 2003 at 5:10 AM
Ignore BA sparkle Friday, Jan. 17, 2003 at 5:43 AM
Strange Truly strange Barbara Friday, Jan. 17, 2003 at 11:46 AM
Barbara Bush Admirer Friday, Jan. 17, 2003 at 2:18 PM
Learn from Bush Admirer Rob Friday, Jan. 17, 2003 at 3:35 PM
Mr Eoin O'Mahony Friday, Jan. 17, 2003 at 4:50 PM
learn from the conversation, sparkle Friday, Jan. 17, 2003 at 5:59 PM
taking Pride Sandra Friday, Jan. 17, 2003 at 6:54 PM
Hey Rob- and other Valley Peeps agirl Friday, Jan. 17, 2003 at 8:19 PM
Reaching out beyond progressive communities From the Bay Friday, Jan. 17, 2003 at 10:40 PM
You are a simpleton Mickey Zavi Saturday, Jan. 18, 2003 at 8:19 PM
I have a theory --- Sunday, Jan. 19, 2003 at 5:47 PM
Now Mickey, calm down Bush Admirer Monday, Jan. 20, 2003 at 12:50 AM
one more thread ruined sparkle Monday, Jan. 20, 2003 at 12:55 AM
"what do we do..."? akachan#2 Monday, Jan. 20, 2003 at 1:21 AM
how about <>&> Monday, Jan. 20, 2003 at 2:00 AM
Fear that the BEASTt may awaken. Barbara Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2003 at 8:36 PM
OneEyedMan KPC Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2003 at 9:23 PM
get the word out! passionate 4 peace Friday, Jan. 24, 2003 at 1:13 AM

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