Organisation of Local Groups

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rich
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Joined: 14-10-03
May 12 2004 11:32
Organisation of Local Groups

The idea of this thread is so that local groups (or locals of national feds), can note down and share anything that they've done that has been particularly good - for example a regular event that has really paid off in terms of increased interest and participation or similar hints and tips. (This is following on from rkn's point in "We Need to Organise" that we need to really build up the local groups.)

I shall try and get the ball rolling...

* one of the students put together a leaflet which was "The Great Money Trick", which was attractive enough that when someone from the DSS came to my place the other day he saw it and wanted to read it!

* regular (ish) swap shops that the students have been doing on campus have done some work towards challenging the misconception that anarchists are all about breaking stuff, or that anarchists don't believe in organisation

* the SchNews tour got someone new involved (and potentially the rest of their group) with Norwich Anarchists

The Blast
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Joined: 12-02-04
May 28 2004 10:43

In walthamstow the main focus of our activities is our paper - the Underdog. We fill it with local news, writing from an anarchist perspective, though try to keep it from becoming parochial. This isn't too hard as most "local" issues aren't usualy confined to a locality anyway. For example an article based on an interview with w'stow firefighters is of both local and national interest, as is say an article about mobile phone masts.

We used to deliver the paper door-to-door but now tend to distrubute it outside tube stations and in th High Street as you get more feedback from people. Lots of shops stock it and as a result we now shift 4000 per issue. We also have non-members (and non-anarchists) writing articles.

A paper is a good tool for a group like us to have as we can immediately offer anyone who comes to us asking for help and support with some issue or another a very practical and genuinely helpful option - to publicise it.

In addition, this is other stuff we are involved in:

*The Tesco's demo this saturday, which may be justs a one off or may turn in to something more sustained.

*One member has help set up a Playgroup Support Group with other parents and playgroup workers to fight council plans for playgroups in the borough to compete against eachother - and eventually swallow eachother up.

*We are working with a resident who has been successfully campaigning against new mobile phone masts in the area.

*Flyposting, stickering etc are ongoing activities.

*We have theoretical discussion meetings.

Stuff we have been in involved in:

*We were instrumental in setting up a group to campaign to save the local cinema from a dodgy pentecostal church. This has been a very successful effort which has helped keep the issue of the cinema alive when it had been shut for a while and people seemed to be giving up on it a bit. We have also exposed the churches immense wealth, power and general crapness (something no-one really knew about beforehand) and so added a whole new dimension to the efforts of local people to get the cinema back. The cinema group, for example, co-ordinated the distribution of 10,000 leaflets by local voluteers about the cinema and church.

*Various public meetings, including putting on Robert King Wilkerson, ex black panther and one of the Angola 3, which was very well attended.

Stuff we may be doing in the future:

*There are a number of huge building sites open or opening in the borough over the next few months and we are considering leafleting them all.

I'm sure there's more but I can't think of anything else off the top of my head and am in a bit of a rush. Hope you get the general idea of the sort of stuff we do. For me the group is about getting away from cliched anarchism delivered via the TV or newspaper and making it real for people. We get involved in specific issues because they are of concern to people in the group. As we all live as part of the working class we have found that our concerns have resonated well with working class people in general.

All comments, especially constuctive criticism of our activities is welcome.

rich
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Joined: 14-10-03
May 28 2004 11:45

Excellent stuff about what you do, The Blast!

Questions:

The Underdog is double sided A3 if I remember correctly - how do you put it together? Is it like SchNews where it's done by a quite dedicated team? Is it collectively edited, or is it delegated?

What WAG events get the most interest in anarchist ideas and interested in WAG itself? Which are your most successful activities?

I would also like to know how you organise and structure theoretical meetings - they're something I would like to try and organise here in Norwich.

I like the way that there are local issues that you can organise around - it also has synergy with the Underdog. I think the trouble with our bi-annual schedule is it really hampers this kind of synergy.

------------------------------------------------------

More aboutf Norwich Anarchists:

Norwich Anarchists meet monthly - this is an organising meeting, with extra meetings for specific events/actions - the most regular thing we do is produce Now or Never (our biannual newspaper), and currently we're mainly organising the Norwich @ Bookfair. We've got a stall going to Glastonbury, and a joint event with Ipswich @s possibly upcoming. Lots of people in NA are also parts of other groups - e.g. Hunt Sabs, EF!. There is also a fledgling Norwich Anarchist Student group, which does its own things, but also links up with N@ for events. The student group meet once a week in the main term time, has done several 'swap shops', as well as been key in an anti-Albright protest, an anti-Oil & Gas careers event, also shown videos, and has had other ambitions.

Cheers, Rich

AlexA
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Joined: 16-09-03
May 28 2004 13:35

Wow interesting stuff guys!

The Blast
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May 30 2004 15:22
Quote:
The Underdog is double sided A3 if I remember correctly - how do you put it together? Is it like SchNews where it's done by a quite dedicated team? Is it collectively edited, or is it delegated?

Thats right - folded, double sided A3. Its produced by all group mambers. Each issue starts with us suggesting subjects for articles and deciding which will be good. We then go away, write them and post them to our internal e-mail list. People then make comments and alterations are made. A very rough first draft is then put together and is e-mailed to the list in time for the next meeting where it is discussed.

Generally, if a disagreement occurs between 2 people about something in an article and no-one else is bothered either way those 2 people will discuss it between them in their own time and come up with a solution. If more people have an opinion on it then we all discuss it til we are all happy about it.

After the meeting any changes are made, new drafts sent to the list and hopefully it will only need rubber stamping at the next meeting.

this works pretty well. The whole group is on the e-mail list so we have decided its ok to make decisions there. We have consistently failed to rotate the actual layout work though which has always been done by the same person. We are aiming to put this right for the next issue.

Quote:
What WAG events get the most interest in anarchist ideas and interested in WAG itself? Which are your most successful activities?

I'm not sure about us generating interest in anarchist ideas. I'd like to think that we do. The Reclaim our Cinema group that came out of the public meeting we held wasn't anarchist in name but was run in total accordance with anarchist principles. We didn't hide our beleifs and argued as anarchists for stuff like no steering committees, rotating meeting chairs, all correspondence dealt with openly, consensus decision making etc. Not that we had much arguing to do though as this sort of stuff comes naturally to people if the left aren't sticking their oar in.

I'd say that our most successful activities have been the things about really specific issues that directly impact on peoples lives.

Quote:
I would also like to know how you organise and structure theoretical meetings - they're something I would like to try and organise here in Norwich.

We choose a topic at a meeting, then we circulate texts on it, read them and go right ahead. This time we agreed to put some stuff on the w@g forum here and have some preliminary discussions online but only 2 of us have bothered! We invite people on the periphery of the group also.

Quote:
I like the way that there are local issues that you can organise around - it also has synergy with the Underdog. I think the trouble with our bi-annual schedule is it really hampers this kind of synergy.

Yes, it works pretty well. We sometimes tie the lead article in with a public meeting on the issue it is about. In the following issue we will then have a report back on the meeting and details of any related plans and activities that came out of it. This gives our practical work and the paper a consistency that otherwise might be lacking. (Don't want to get sidetracked, but I think that a lack of consistency is a real problem for anarchism in Britain. We are all too inclined to jump from one issue to the next rather than concentrate on specific things with the aim of actually getting a result).

A downside is that we can't get into an issue very deeply and often have to hack articles down massively. This is where your papers format would be better.

Also, I think that a single folded A3 sheet is stretching the definition of the word newspaper!

It sounds like you have more of an anarchist/radical scene in Norwich than we do in Waltham Forest. All we have are the News from Nowhere Club who are really liberal. So I guess our choice of activities are more limited. Although some group members are involved in different national groups I suspect that w@g is a bit more of an island in Waltham Forest than N@ are in Norwich.

I'd love for us to do something like the bookfair you are organising. I've always been into the idea of some kind of local "Anarchy Day". I'll be interested to hear how it goes.

I like your idea of having different meetings for different things. We tend to lump everything in to our fortnightly meetings which makes them really hard work sometimes. It also means that we don't have a regular more laid back meeting that we can invite people to who are vaguely interested in us.

rich
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Joined: 14-10-03
Jun 4 2004 18:15

"We didn't hide our beleifs and argued as anarchists for stuff like no steering committees, rotating meeting chairs, all correspondence dealt with openly, consensus decision making etc. Not that we had much arguing to do though as this sort of stuff comes naturally to people if the left aren't sticking their oar in."

It's true enough! People left to themselves do organise anarchistically. BTW I really liked the Wot Anarchists Fink bit on organisation in the Underdog I've got. And when I reread the Underdog I was impressed! Keep up the good work!

"It sounds like you have more of an anarchist/radical scene in Norwich than we do in Waltham Forest."

I suppose! We've got the EF! lot, ageing peaceniks, Norwich Anarchists & NA Students, Hunt Sabs, a cool free party crew, but it's a much bigger place than Walthamstow!

Hopefully next academic year the students will have some theory discussions. It's an area that we neglected a bit this year. We'll probably use that same structure as you. I think the first will be a discussion of "The Dispossessed" by Ursual Le Guin...

"I'd love for us to do something like the bookfair you are organising. I've always been into the idea of some kind of local "Anarchy Day". I'll be interested to hear how it goes."

The bookfair seems to be shaping up nicely. Hopefully the weather will be good, and it'll all be beautiful!