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Re: yesterday's rally, Shawn is right!

by Tom Louie Monday, Jan. 13, 2003 at 6:31 PM

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!

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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 Monday, Jan. 13, 2003 at 7:26 PM
yeah.... akachan#2 Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2003 at 8:23 PM
This has been a fantasy project. Sparkle Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2003 at 11:54 PM
IM IN! Natalie Landau Thursday, Jan. 16, 2003 at 11:50 AM
really!?! JAY Thursday, Jan. 16, 2003 at 9:10 PM
Ignore BA sparkle Thursday, Jan. 16, 2003 at 9:43 PM
Strange Truly strange Barbara Friday, Jan. 17, 2003 at 3:46 AM
Barbara Bush Admirer Friday, Jan. 17, 2003 at 6:18 AM
Learn from Bush Admirer Rob Friday, Jan. 17, 2003 at 7:35 AM
Mr Eoin O'Mahony Friday, Jan. 17, 2003 at 8:50 AM
learn from the conversation, sparkle Friday, Jan. 17, 2003 at 9:59 AM
taking Pride Sandra Friday, Jan. 17, 2003 at 10:54 AM
Hey Rob- and other Valley Peeps agirl Friday, Jan. 17, 2003 at 12:19 PM
Reaching out beyond progressive communities From the Bay Friday, Jan. 17, 2003 at 2:40 PM
You are a simpleton Mickey Zavi Saturday, Jan. 18, 2003 at 12:19 PM
I have a theory --- Sunday, Jan. 19, 2003 at 9:47 AM
Now Mickey, calm down Bush Admirer Sunday, Jan. 19, 2003 at 4:50 PM
one more thread ruined sparkle Sunday, Jan. 19, 2003 at 4:55 PM
"what do we do..."? akachan#2 Sunday, Jan. 19, 2003 at 5:21 PM
how about <>&> Sunday, Jan. 19, 2003 at 6:00 PM
Fear that the BEASTt may awaken. Barbara Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2003 at 12:36 PM
OneEyedMan KPC Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2003 at 1:23 PM
get the word out! passionate 4 peace Thursday, Jan. 23, 2003 at 5:13 PM
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