✊ [Wednesday 3rd March] Action Design Workshop

Action Design Workshop

When: Wednesday 3rd of March, 6pm - 8pm Sydney Time

Online on Zoom, all rebels welcome. (NVDA Training Assumed but not Required)

RSVP form here.

Reinvigorating your local group or starting a new affinity group? Ready for Action?

What is the strategic goal of your action? Have you thought about the three classic pillars of XR Actions?

These are:

  • Disruption
  • Outreach
  • Visioning.

What tactics will best enable you to achieve your goals?

What location, and art, will get across the message or story you want to tell?
Your answers to these questions will shape the design of your action.

Join us for an interactive action planning workshop to creatively discuss your action ideas, vision, strategic goals, logistics, safety, legals, roles, and embodying a regenerative culture as we follow a cycle of action, reflection, learning, and planning for more action. Learning from other movements and contexts as well as our own experiences.

Pre-workshop Exercise

Before coming along, please have a read of the XR Actions How-To Guide, and have a think about the questions above. Talk about it with other rebels if you can (and invite them!).

Share your thoughts in a reply below!!

Background

At the core of Extinction Rebellion’s philosophy is nonviolent civil disobedience. We promote civil disobedience and rebellion because we think it is necessary – we are asking people to find their courage and to collectively do what is necessary to bring about change.

We have no other choice. We rebel against the systems that drive us towards extinction. We rebel for the future we want. We rebel because it is our responsibility to act. We have no more time to waste.

Nothing is impossible - we can still write the story we want and we will. We as individuals can make a difference, collectively. We will do this together. Transform the world. Create lasting change. Create a prosperous future for all.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” - Nelson Mandela

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Hello from the Karla Crew in Adelaide.

Note: We realise how fortunate we’ve been in Adelaide to not have lengthy Covid lock downs. This has enabled us to carry out actions and to meet face to face with only limited restriction. We all feel for those of you caught up in serious lock downs and can’t imagine how hard that must have been.

WHO WE ARE
Karla (Keep a Rebel Laughing Amigo) is part of XRSA. In the SoS structure we’re embedded in the Affinity Group Circle as a project - THE KARLA PROJECT - a ‘disruptive action incubator’. Our actions are edgy and increasingly risky. We are open to anyone from within XR who is prepared to be a CP with us on the streets, or thinks they might like to come out and try it with us. Currently we have about 15 members with an active core of about nine rebels who plan our actions and take on the key roles including CP.
Our actions range from small (5-6 people) to reasonably large (up to 40 or 50).
Here’s a look at our stuff from last year.

EARLY PLANNING - THE IDEAS
We use Signal as the ideas incubator, to pick our target, location and theme. We let any ideas come though, nothing is off limits. It can get pretty random and go off on tangents but we value everyone’s ideas and don’t rein it in.
Then someone steps up to filter out the key ideas into a document. That becomes necessary when the Signal chat is too complex and long. At that point we meet face to face and talk the key ideas through, around a bottle of wine and some food. The social aspect is a really important component and has helped us stay together, even when disagreements have surfaced, and they can. It’s probably inevitable when you’re stepping into taking action that might be risky to you and confronts corporations, police or the public. We all have our fears and we try to find roles that suit people for each stage they’re at. Often the planning discussion is about how to do something one level up from the last action but to do it safely. We are only taking incremental steps up from one action to the next to ensure people are comfortable, which so important for new members/CPs to see.
DRAFT PLAN
Then someone will write a draft plan which we’ll share around on Protonmail. The discussion returns to Signal to re-visit ideas in the draft plan and perhaps add in new ones. Every idea is valuable. Some just fizzle out, naturally, some get saved for later and some get in. It is an iterative process between draft plans and Signal.
Ideally we start the process 5 or 6 weeks out from the proposed action date. XRSA has a great action planning template. We’ve modified it for our Karla process but it’s a great starting point. As our experience has grown we’ve found we can actually plan a small action in a week eg Koalas on the Freeway. But that’s an intense week! We also have a core group of seriously good jazz musicians in Adelaide who come to our actions and really enjoy themselves. We let them pick up the mood of the action and play whatever they thinks suits. T
Having live music has lifted our actions significantly.
PLAN LOCKED IN
Once we’ve agreed a plan it’s locked in, apart from minor tweaks. Then we call out for help filling roles, seek legal advice, talk to media and messaging. We do keep refining the plan and especially the messaging right till the day of the action. Signal again.
FACING FEAR
As the day of the action gets closer we all start getting scared, all of us. One way to help that is to meet face to face again just before action to discuss legal consequences, safety and to rehearse. With more food and wine of course! The rehearsal is so important. Your nerves on action day can be overwhelming so knowing your role really well is important as it helps you bypass your nerves and get set up automatically.
CELEBRATE
Once the action is done and everyone is accounted for we usually head to our favourite pub. They know our orders now, even for breakfast. Coffee, beers and vegan pizzas!
That’s our Karla process in a nutshell. We know a process like this is not for everyone, many like more structure in the planning process, with a more visible lead. But our Karla (Keep A Rebel Laughing Amigo) crew are happy with an all-in and spontaneous planning process. We’re hoping to keep building on what we’ve learned so far. Look out for us on 10th March!
We’re happy to share action plans or briefings with anyone, just get in touch batswing@protonmail.com
Sorry Trish and I can’t be at this meeting. We hope it goes well.
Rebel hugs to all
Ian on behalf of Trish, Ronny, Cate, Mai, Sandy, Eugene, Sarah, Louis, Jenny

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Just an update that I’ve added an RSVP form to the event up above.
RSVP here.

The zoom booking has been changed. The zoom is now at: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/5256267272?pwd=MFA4eEY1TlZrWjg4S2JqNDQvREJQQT09

The links on Action Network and the OP of this topic are updated.

Action Design Workshop Post-Evaluation

We held the 1st Action Design Workshop yesterday.

@cherrybomb and I co-hosted it.

Workshop Plan and Structure

Before the session, participants were asked to do some exercises if they had the time. This was intended to give a chance for self-directed learning and avoid having didactic presentations fill the workshop.

We worked off a basic agenda that we designed to emphasize the participatory practice of action design, with the workshop consisting of several sessions in small breakout groups to develop action designs from the ideas of the participants.

The Workshop Agenda is below:

Action Design Workshop Plan / Agenda

Action Design Workshop

Sections 1, 2, 3 involve a short introduction by facilitators, then working in groups, followed by a brief report-back to the big group with some time for quick feedback or reactions.
Section 4 is a longer report-back in the big group on how the plan looks, with more time for feedback.

0. Intro and Check-ins (15 mins)

  • Acknowledge traditional land owners.
  • Introduce session
  • In check-ins share something you would like to see in an XR action.

1. What is the action for? What is the goal(s) of the action? What ideas do we have? How might an action achieve that goal? (20 minutes)

1-2-4-All Exercise to Come Up with Ideas - Enter Ideas In Cryptpad (Maybe use a more visual board / mind map to record the ideas?)

2. Rebels in small groups work up a basic Action Plan together. (20 minutes)

Rebels grouped according to the ideas they like the most and the kind of action they want to organize. Groups of about 4.

What’s your action goal? What might the action do to achieve the goal? Work on the tactical outline of the design and come up with an overall narrative description. You might come up with multiple ideas that would make sense for different actions - that’s ok. Report back the multiple ideas to the group. Try to pick the favourite action design of the group and focus on that one.

If there are disagreements, try to find a way that works best for the group, while not getting too stuck on them:

  • Is one way good for one action design while the other way could be good for another action design? Do you have multiple good ideas for different actions?

  • What is more popular with the group?

  • Want to ask the big group to mediate the disagreement?

(Optional) Bonus questions : How would you design your action if 6 people were doing it? What about if 60 people were doing it? What if you had 6 affinity groups and were expecting hundreds to show up?

3. Logistics and Organising (20 mins)

What needs to happen for the action design to work?

Think about the specific actions people will have to take, the people and roles that will need to be carried out. e.g. maybe we need to enlist another affinity group to take on one part of the action. If you’re blocking a bridge, you might need 2 affinity groups to block each end, a police liaison for each end, etc.

Best to start from the overall patterns of what needs to happen, then move into the details. Don’t go too deep into the details if you don’t have time.

Fill out the Action Template for your action. What rebels do you need to ask to help with your action? Does anyone need to carry out any preparation tasks (e.g. researching and scouting locations) to get ready?

4. Share and Critique Action Plans (20 mins)

5. (Optional) Revise and Update Plans in Small Groups Based on Critique

What Happened?

The workshop was advertised through social media and mattermost in the week and days leading up to it. Promotion of the workshop was with less than a week’s notice because we were pressed for time in planning it and putting it together.

There were 8 participants (from 14 RSVPS) including myself and Cherry. This included 2 from Canberra and 2 from Brisbane, as well as 1 from Brunswick in Melbourne and 1 from Illawarra.

A cryptpad was used to allow participants to record some of their ideas during the brainstorming sessions.
NB: This had mixed success due to technical issues. Some people were unable to use it and write their ideas in the cryptpad, and used paper instead. Some ideas are from the individual silent brainstorm, and others typed by people listening to others speak during pair sections.

Cryptpad Ideas

The report-backs from the 1-2-4-All brainstorming session included ideas on a range of actions. Cherry and I each helped out in one of the groups of 4, and the 3 others in each group were serendipitously interested in putting together similar kinds of actions.

Action Designs Developed

The two groups chose to work on the action ideas from Brisbane and Canberra, which were focused outreach actions, intended to raise awareness of the public about an issue as well as build their group. These issues were (respectively):

  • (Brisbane) The biodiversity-loss emergency, Australian species going extinct and the role of fossil fuel companies and government in making this happen.
  • (Canberra) The existence and role of the APPEA gas lobbying group in Canberra, and it’s role in capturing and controlling state resources to expand gas extraction in Australia and take us to extinction.

In each group, there were two rebels working on their own action, and 2 rebels from other XR groups helping them work on the action.

In the case of the Brisbane group, they worked on an action design that had already been percolating in XR Meanjin - an outreach action using large corflute photo cutouts of extinct birds, music and voice-over audio, with an affinity group taking them through a high-pedestrian part of Brisbane to raise awareness of the biodiversity emergency. The breakout group developed the idea, adding features and ideas, and working through logistics and roles required to do it well. I think the group filled out an action plan template and are planning for the action to happen within a month.

In the case of the Canberra group, there were several ideas for actions present, and the workshop was used to align the ideas with strategic goals and what would work for the Canberra group. In the end ideas were separated out into a series of escalating and complimentary actions that would be enacted in sequence in order to build the group and the issue, as well as link the actions in to a wider campaign with other XR, climate and community groups around the country. The Canberra rebels are now intending to bring a proposal to their local group work on a few discrete actions in sequence over the next couple of months. Something like:

  • Action 1: Banner drop and social media awareness campaign (handful of rebels and roles required)
  • Action 2: Flyering and outreach
  • Action 3: Die-in or discobedience or theatrical action (more input from local group required)

Regarding the workshop agenda, we did not manage to keep to time and so merged sections 3 and 4 into a longer section of working on the actions. The different groups got to different stages of completion on their plans - the Brisbane group got to a more-or-less complete design, while the Canberra group will need to continue to nail down the specifics of their action designs.

One useful feature of the session was being able to link action ideas that groups had up with other actions that other groups around the country are working on. This interlinkage could be used to link small groups together with other groups to build a more powerful base of action. For example, the Canberra actions, being planned by a small group, link in well with the anti-gas and anti-Santos actions being planned by other groups around the country at the moment. The board of APPEA is just a list of executive directors of oil and gas companies, and the managing director and CEO of the board is the CEO of Santos.

Feedback

Feedback at the end of the session was overwhelmingly positive.
Participants were grateful for being able to advance their ideas closer to combat-ready action plans and reported more confidence in designing actions.
Participants who worked on other people’s action designs also reported a usefulness in being able to practice designing actions with others and being able to bring that practice back to their own designs.

What Next?

In my opinion, this facilitated action design workshop should be continued as a regular session - if it were running every 6 weeks or every month or so we could develop a flow of helping groups develop their action designs and develop the ability of our rebels to design actions.

It would be good for the Actions working group to follow up the participants after some time and check on progress of their action plans.

My theory is that this practice can be taken back to action groups who can run through a similar process within their own groups in their own time when designing their actions in a purposeful action design process.

The presence of some experienced action rebels in the workshop appeared to be useful in helping less experienced rebels practice their action design and get their ideas closer to completion. It was also useful in a community-building sense as rebels from across the country had a chance to develop a connection with other rebels and get to know eachother better.

If these sessions were done regularly, and scaled up to have more participants, there may be a challenge involved in handling the scale - having good facilitation and managing the time of the sessions while allowing participation in depth. This could be managed by encouraging participation of experienced rebels to help facilitate the sessions, by creative use of breakout rooms, and by capping participation numbers per session (and having more sessions when demand is high).

Another possibility could be having Action Design workshops broken up into two session - one more focused on brainstorming and visioning, and one about converging on a specific design and then following it through to organisation and execution.

I would envisage these sessions to be part of a larger Actions training program with the NVDA trainings and Affinity Group Formation Workshops.

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