Professional organizers

2011-08-21

in Politics, The environment

The ongoing Washington protest has given me my first real exposure to an interesting group of people – professional organizers of protests. These are people who provide direct action training, run websites, work with the press, etc. The organizers are progressive people – to be sure – and I am sure they are selective about the causes they support.

The organizers are distinct from activists in that activists are usually firm believers in a specific cause. The activists in this particular protest are the people who are willing to get arrested to express their strong opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline.

Those people are obviously necessary, but it has been interesting to learn a bit about the general logistical side of things – watching people work in dark cubicles on a Sunday, updating websites and watching the news coverage roll in.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

oleh August 21, 2011 at 10:41 pm

Organizers seem a key to a successful campaign, whether political, economic, social, military or athletic. Based on the attention that the protest against the Keystone XL pipeline is receiving, it would seem the organizers have been and are doing a very good job.

Milan August 22, 2011 at 8:35 pm

The training sessions are particularly interesting to watch. The trainers take a group of strangers and use four hours to turn them into a coordinated force that can effectively drive forward a coherent message the next morning, as well as deal with the logistics of civil disobedience and arrest.

oleh August 23, 2011 at 1:37 am

I have been following the news and , looking at the you tube videos. I am struck by the sense of calmness and purpose among the participants, and the respect that the police are showing towards those they are arresting. It re-enforces the effectiveness of non-violent civil disobedience.

It is quite distinct from the violence and avoidance of responsibility that was shown by the masked protesters at the G-20 in Toronto.

Even if Obama cannot come out publicly and support or admire the protesters, I am confident that he respects them and they have influence on him.

ihor August 24, 2011 at 1:09 am

Milan,
The yahoo news listings on the internet today posted an article describing
what was happening in Washington and finished the article with a spokesperson from the pipeline company saying that the company does
not mind if protesters express their views but described the environmentalists views as ” rhetoric ” and not based on facts and therefore not the truth. I wonder if an editorial letter should be sent
to yahoo so that yahoo sends out another article stating that the
environmentalists views are indeed factual. Great work Milan !

Milan August 24, 2011 at 6:32 pm

The protestors have different motivations for participating in the action, but concern about climate change is certainly a major one.

Because there is so much oil in the Athabasca oil sands, there is considerable climatic importance to the question of how much of it gets burned. If we can be successful in blocking the construction of pipelines, we can help to keep that carbon safely underground.

There is nothing rhetorical about that.

oleh September 6, 2011 at 12:36 am

The attention on the protest appeared quite sustained and effective in the media. How did the organizers feel in general at the conclusion?

Milan September 7, 2011 at 6:19 pm

People were very positive at the end. I think this was the biggest civil disobedience event any of the organizers had ever worked on, and I think it was effective at raising public attention in both the United States and Canada.

oleh September 8, 2011 at 2:15 am

The organizers and the participants can be proud not only of the raised awareness and publciity, but also the manner in which they conducted their acts of civil disobedience. It generated further respect for the environmental movement. It is easy to garner publicity with violence , but with that there is not the garnering of respect. The civil disobedience of the Kestone protest attracted both increased awareness and respect for the environmental movement.

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